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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Stirring up gridiron ghosts

Big doings in pro football tomorrow. The New York Giants (technically from New Jersey nowadays) play the Green Bay, Wisconsin Packers for the championship of the National Football Conference. The game will be played in frigid weather, as one would expect for Wisconsin (or New York, for that matter) in January. The incredible violence of American football will combine with the brutal cold to set the stage for a classic battle of human toughness.

The last time these two teams did this, I was a boy of around eight years old, living in New Jersey and rooting for the Giants. Back then, this championship was the pinnacle of the entire National Football League, but today it just sets the stage for the Super Bowl, where the National Conference champ takes on the American Conference champ, in two weeks. (In those days, before any Super Bowl, there was an entire American Football League, in which New York had a team, the Titans, that we real football fans couldn't have cared less about.)

Ah, the rosters. For the Giants: Y.A. Tittle, Alex Webster, Del Shofner, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli. For the Packers: Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Ray Nitschke (who went on to play a guy named Bogdanski in a major motion picture -- you could look it up), Jim Taylor, Herb Adderley, and of course Coach Vince Lombardi. Those were unspeakably essential football games, in which the men played under the influence of not human growth hormone but Seagram's 7. The championship took place on the Sunday of Christmas week. It was every bit as cold back then as it will be tomorrow. There were no girlie "playoffs" -- the two best teams went head to head in a single game, period.

Tomorrow we'll be looking at Plaxico Burress, but we'll be seeing Jim Katcavage.

Comments (8)

Do you spose the temps are gonna hurt the scalpers?

In Green Bay? Nah.

And remember: wind chill is for babies!

The New York Times ran a great article about the '61 and '62 NFL Championship games between the Packers and the Giants. Some great history.

*That* movie is one of my favorites. Your scene is a cringe-inducer.

Here's hoping your Sunday goes better than that!

It's so cold, Green Bay Packer fans are putting cheese fondue on their heads.

Thanks for bringing up some of those memories of the old NY Giants. As a small boy of 9, I still remember attending a NY Giants Football game at the old Polo Grounds way back in the mid-1950s. I clearly remember going onto the field after the game and seeing some of the players - who I thought were HUGE at the time. That was during the period when pro sports players still had to earn real money outside of the pro season.

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