A Packer Fan’s Remembrance
I rarely share personal stories in this forum (mostly ’cause I figure no one cares) but the UW/MU game yesterday coupled with this weekend’s weather reminded me that it was just over 25 years ago that I attended one of the most ‘storied’ games in Green Bay Packer history: The 1985 “Snow Bowl”.
I was invited to attend the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by my friend Brian, with whom I still attend many games. Though we both now live in Ashwaubenon, at the time he resided in Manitowoc while I was still in Stevens Point, so we arranged to meet at his parents’ home near the airport. The plan was to go out in Green Bay on Saturday night (as was our habit at the time) and to return home shortly after the game on Sunday, as I was scheduled to work early Monday morning.
This being the days before “The Weather Channel” and the 24 hour news cycle, there wasn’t the blizzard warning that we had this weekend and even if there was, I probably wouldn’t have heeded it. It was unseasonably warm that last day of November, brilliantly sunny and about 40 degrees. I remember listening to the Badgers/ Warriors game on the radio as I drove over to Green Bay Saturday afternoon. (The Badgers won by one point, which I took as a good omen.)
It began snowing that evening but being two young Wisconsin guys we thought nothing of it and followed through with our plans to go out on the town. The next morning we awoke to find over a foot of snow on the ground and still falling. Brian used to drive a Pontiac Trans Am which was terrible in the snow so he had already stored it in favor of his winter ‘beater’, a 1972 Oldsmobile 98 with a big block engine and snow tires, which we took to the game passing many cars that were stuck along the way. As fate would have it, this was also the day of his niece’s christening that his parents were attending across town so we agreed to meet back at their home for supper after the game.
By the time we got to Lambeau, it was pretty apparent that I wouldn’t be going to work on Monday so we totally got into the spirit of the event. There were only 19,000 and change that made it to the stadium that day, leaving over 30,000 “no shows”. I remember we sat in the south end zone and it was snowing so hard that you couldn’t see the action on the other side of the field. If it happened today, we probably would have moved to mid-field to get a better view but we were having too much fun with the few ‘regulars’ where we were so we stayed put.
Other than the weather, the game itself was insignificant in the overall scheme of things, just two bad teams playing out the string late in the season. Packer quarterback Lynn Dickey put on one of his patented snow storm performances in leading the Packers to a 21-0 win. (To prove that wasn’t a fluke, Dickey would have another magnificent game on a similarly snowy Monday night in Denver) To be honest, I couldn’t tell you much more about the game beyond the fact that Tampa Bay’s quarterback was a highly touted rookie refugee from the USFL by the name of Steve Young.
With road conditions being what they were, it took us awhile to get back to Brian’s folks home after the game. Shortly after we got there, a single jet flew overhead and I joked to Brian that must be the Buccaneers getting out of town. Sure enough, we got inside and turned on the news to learn that there was only one flight out of Austin Straubel airport that day–the Bucs charter.
I managed to get ahold of my boss in Stevens Point to inform him that I wouldn’t be making it to work on Monday. As things turned out, Brian’s parents didn’t make it home that night either. They got stuck on the east side of Green Bay and had to spend the night with some benevolent strangers. So we lit a fire in their fireplace and proceeded to drink up his dad’s beer. Luckily, they were in the habit of video-taping the games so we were able to go back and watch all the action we missed, even though it was still tough to see on TV.
Brian now has season tickets of his own and invites me to the last home game every year; a tradition that was born on that day. His Olds 98 came to be known as “The Driftbuster” and was eventually retired in a demo derby at the Manitowoc County fair. And unlike many fans, I still look most forward to the ‘winter’ games at Lambeau Field.
FYI-’PD Sunday Sampler’ will appear later this morning.