Bart Starr and Don Meredith didn't have the advantages Brett Favre and Byron Leftwich will enjoy this Sunday in Green Bay.
Starr and Meredith were the quarterbacks in the famous "Ice Bowl" game of Dec. 31, 1967, when Starr's quarterback sneak claimed another NFL championship for the Packers. It was a game played in such bitter cold that players on both teams lost toes and finger tips to frostbite.
This Sunday, Favre and Leftwich will lead their teams into the chill of a December nightfall in Wisconsin, but the quarterbacks' fingers, toes and ears will be toasty warm.
"They didn't have the technology then," Jaguars equipment manager Drew Hampton said of the "Ice Bowl" game. "If we played the 'Ice Bowl' today we'd be able to overcome a lot of the adversity they had that day."
Here are some high-tech advantages Favre and Leftwich will enjoy that Starr and Meredith didn't have:
• Helmet heaters—A Green Bay company developed a heated two foot by two foot wooden box in which Favre's and Leftwich's helmets will rest when each quarterback is on the sideline. That means Favre and Leftwich will be able to put on stocking hats to keep their heads warm, without having their helmets go cold on the bench.
• Toe warmers—A charcoal-activated powder is encapsulated on an adhesive strip and affixed to the sole of players' shoes; from the ball of the foot to the tips of the toes. Step down and feel a rush of warmth.
• Hand warmers—Same principle applied to the pockets of muffs worn around the waist. If this technology had been available for the "Ice Bowl," Bob Hayes wouldn't have had to stick his hands in his pants.
• Thermal tops, bottoms and gloves—High-tech fabric that keeps players warm and keeps moisture away from their bodies makes icy sweat a thing of the past.
• Sheepskin helmet liners—Forget about the sting of frozen vinyl. The players' helmets will be lined with sheepskin; head and ears will be as soft and warm as a baby's bottom.
Hampton has been preparing for this trip to the "Frozen Tundra" ever since it appeared on the Jaguars' schedule last April. "When I knew we were going to be playing in Green Bay in late December, that's when I placed the order for the (helmet) box," Hampton said.
The Jaguars normally pack about 13,000 pounds of equipment for road trips. This weekend, they'll pack another couple of thousand pounds.
Preparing for the trip to Green Bay is so labor-intensive that Hampton and his equipment guys will require separate arrangements from the team. Upon landing in Green Bay, Hampton and his guys will take the equipment directly to Lambeau Field, while the Jaguars team will go to its hotel in Appleton, Wisc., which is about an hour away from Green Bay. Hampton and his boys will stay in a small lodge in Green Bay Saturday night so they might get an early start on game-day preparations.
Upon arrival at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Hampton will immediately check field conditions. Keeping the players warm is important, but keeping them on their feet will be the top priority, and that will require proper cleat length.
Hampton will have four cleat lengths available to the players: half-inch, five-eighths, three-quarters and one inch. He'll make cleat-length decisions based on the condition of Lambeau Field and players' position needs, and he'll change cleats immediately for any player who isn't satisfied by his traction.
"It's like a NASCAR pit stop. We have a box of cleats right there (on the sideline). We have a special cleat-removal bit for our drill," Hampton said.
Ironically, the guys responsible for outfitting the Jaguars will be the ones most ridiculously dressed. In New England last year, Hampton and his cohorts wore shorts in the Foxborough cold and snow. Hampton said he's going to be in shorts again this Sunday night.
"Just an idiot, I guess; so we get on TV," he explained.
Coach Jack Del Rio went coat-less in New England, which was an attempt on Del Rio's part to give his team an aggressive mind-set against the cold. Del Rio, however, has already said he'll be more warmly attired in Green Bay.
"I definitely think he'll be wearing a jacket this week. He doesn't want to make an issue out of the cold, but I think he realizes it's going to be a little colder than it was in New England last year," Hampton said.
How cold? Well, the weather forecast for Green Bay on Sunday is for a high of 15 degrees, a low of four degrees and snow showers. It'll be a modern-day "Ice Bowl."