Back when I was young I used to listen to my Mother's "Rock" music in the basement whenever I could. My early albums included Neil Diamond, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, and Hair. My affinity for musicals and theater can be directly linked to my Mom.
We added an 8-track cassette player which meant more music options. I recall one particular 8-track, Jerry Butler, standing on top of cubes of ice, with the title "The Iceman Cometh". While he was no Al Green, he was pretty cool.
And cold standing on all that ice.
As temperatures are dropping below zero, I am reminded of the cold days of the past. Without a doubt, one reason Minnesota was so successful in the 1970s was that it played home playoff games at Met Stadium in December and January. I went to many home playoff games as a child. I would be wrapped up in my snowmobile suit, given blankets and a thermos of hot chocolate, and sent off to tailgate in the parking lot in the early hours of the morning.
As most know through legend or life, Bud Grant kept his players without gloves and heaters. As a fan I joined others in taking great pride in the toughness of our football team. I recall games versus the Rams and Cowboys where they would be huddled around a single heater, two or three rows deep, close together trying to create enough warmth to avoid frost bite. Meanwhile, the Minnesota players would be standing tall, in a straight line, looking as if the biting winds somehow went around them.
And we would laugh at the "warm-blooded" teams.
All that changed upon the making of the Metrodome. And while I was thankful for the Dome in helping us bring World Series rings to Minnesota in 1987 and 1991, I have never been of the belief that we should have moved the Vikings under a bubble, thus eliminating the elements. The only adversity left, trying to avoid bursting ear drums due to piped in music at 150 decibels.
We lost our toughness.
For the last thirty plus years we have been a soft team from a Dome. Even 1998, when we were 15-1, we had this softness about us. Our division rivals, the Packers and the Bears, continued on with their frigid playoff games and both won Super Bowls while we stayed warm.
We have become the Detroit Lions.
Today we have a chance to change all of that. The TCF Bank Stadium will be cold. Very cold. A noon start with temperatures expected to be near zero. The Seattle Seahawks are not a cold weather team. They are a very strong team that has relied more and more on the pass this year than in their recent past. And now with Marshawn Lynch unavailable, and the best running option Christine Michael, it appears that the worse the playing conditions are, the better for our Purple.
Watching Saturday's playoff games was educational. Both visiting team won mostly because the quarterback experience was on the side of the visitors. Brian Hoyer had five turnovers for the Texans in a 30-0 loss to the red-hot Chiefs. Alex Smith just did his job and watched his counterpart implode. An injured Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a final winning drive late in the game. Those whom watched that game know that the two biggest idiots on the Bengals committed costly personal fouls on the same final drive which handed the victory to Pittsburgh. But it also did not help Cincinnati that inexperienced quarterback A.J. McCarron took a long time to get into the swing of his first ever playoff game.
Today's games have a eerily similar look. Russell Wilson has a lopsided wealth of more experience than Teddy Bridgewater. In the night game, Aaron Rodgers the same as opposed to Kirk Cousins. If the games play out like most expect, Seattle and Green Bay will win because of their quarterbacks.
Well, they think Seattle should win. Not too many are high on Green Bay after last weekend.
And so we look to the cold. We hope that the elements reduce the skills of Wilson, and that the defense contains him while shutting down what is left of the Seattle running attack. Sure, it will also hamper our own attack, but most fans reason Adrian Peterson can do more against the Seahawks defense than Michael can versus the Vikings.
There is a reason Minnesota was made a 7 point underdog at home to start this playoff week. And there is also a reason that "line" has shrunk to 4 or 5 points. The cold weather will have a hand in leveling the playing field.
As the icy conditions worsen, we grow greater in hope. Never mind that Teddy Bridgewater is not used to playing in the cold. Never mind that we are still an offense built for artificial turf and a Dome. As it gets closer to dangerously cold, we just think of how it will impact our opponents. We hope they are huddled around a heater. Miserable in every way.
Let the cold weather cometh. Where are you Jerry Butler?