Let me just put this out there – I don’t enjoy cold weather.
I don’t know any guys who really do. I can handle 115 degrees and playing football and sweating and cramping up. But that cold weather, that’s another animal. Guys at least are starting to get smarter about it and technology is helping with these suits they wear – you probably saw Matt Barkley wearing a triathlon suit under his uniform Sunday.
But, really, when it’s below zero, you’re just going to be cold.
There’s a certain temperature – probably in the single digits and below – where you can’t do anything to stay warm. I had one of those games against the Bears. It was my third year in Houston and I don’t know if I had 15 completions in that game, but I’ll never forget how cold it was. Twelve degrees and minus-8 with the wind chill, which is colder than it was for Sunday’s Bears-Packers game with the wind chill.
They weren’t icicles, freezing straight up and down. It was freezing straight out with the way the wind is blowing. It’s one of those things you have to experience at least once, I guess, but I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.
I remember getting on the bus at the hotel and there wasn’t any more room for bags under the front side of the bus, so I walked around to the other side and as soon as I did the wind hit me. I had my suit and my big jacket on, but the wind hit me right in the chest and my heart, my breath, kind of stopped. I had never been in that situation where it was so cold I couldn’t catch my breath. I was not prepared for that. I just thought, “This is going to be insane.”
Then, we’re driving to the stadium and we go by Lake Michigan and these big waves are rolling in. Um, this is a lake – there aren’t supposed to be waves! There was a dock out there and there was an antennae at the end and just a normal railing and the water was freezing horizontally as it came across the dock. They weren’t icicles, freezing straight up and down. It was freezing straight out with the way the wind is blowing. It’s one of those things you have to experience at least once, I guess, but I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.
During the game, we were out in the middle of the elements and the wind was blowing. Our right guard got knocked out of the game and in came our backup and he hadn’t played a whole lot. We called a pass play the first play he was in and he completely whiffed and I hit my hand on the defensive lineman’s shoulder pads. I thought my hand broke off. I was waiting for my fingers to fall into pieces on the ground. For three months after that, I had a spot on the back of my hand that didn’t have feeling in it. And that was the only part of my body that wasn’t covered. I had long tights on, probably three shirts and a turtleneck on under my shoulder pads and also a full-head hood.
Corey Sears, one of our defensive linemen, went full-on Arctic Ocean and wore a 3-millimeter wetsuit. But by halftime, he was sweating and cramping because nothing could get out. He was fine and we ended up winning. I threw a touchdown pass to Corey Bradford – the safety didn’t get wide enough in Cover 2 and Bradford scored. But that might have been the only play we had all game that went for more than 20 yards. It was a miserable game. We all just wanted to get out of there and go home, honestly.
Corey Sears, one of our defensive linemen, went full-on Artic Ocean and wore a 3-millimeter wetsuit. But by halftime, he was sweating and cramping because nothing could get out.
Back then, they tried to do everything they could to keep us warm.
I didn’t learn this until I got to New York – I wish someone would have told me before I played in that game – but a lot of guys would use Vaseline. They had it out on the table in the middle of the locker room and guys would just put it on their arms and chest, the back of their neck, basically the spots where you’d get cold. I thought, “There’s no significance to this. It’s not like Icy Hot or anything.” But they’re like, “No, you put that on and then the wind can’t get in. You put that on and then you slide your tights over it and then your pants and it helps.” And it did.
So Barkley’s triathlon suit – that was ingenious. He heard that from Tom Brady. That’s actually really smart. We didn’t have those when I was playing, but they’re very flexible and guys swear by them. They’re basically just a little bit thicker than tights, but it’s a full body suit and the shoulders are flexible so quarterbacks can throw with them and receivers can catch with them.
I might have to give that advice to Derek if he’s going to play in some cold-weather games in the playoffs.
Question of the week
From Steve Herman: I enjoy your appearance on the NFL Network. Can you give us the back story on some of the on-air personalities and how the daily topics are decided upon for you to discuss?
I go down there on Monday and we have a meeting around noon where we lay out the topics of the day and what we might discuss. The producers and directors, everybody who puts the show together, they listen to our feedback. I’m usually there with Willie McGinest and LaDainian Tomlinson. We go through about a dozen topics or so and they hear our responses and how we interact with it and they put the show together through that one-hour meeting. We put together some pre-tapes – we’ll do interviews because everyone who comes on the show, they can’t always come on right when we’re airing. Then the show will start and we go for about 90 minutes. It’s a lot of fun. We have some people who do a great job bringing us information – these stats we pull up, we don’t just pull those out of thin air. They do a great job preparing us and giving us information.
Then on Thursday I do the postgame show. Most of my buddies on the East Coast are asleep or waking up at 3 in the morning if they catch me on that show. But the fun part of that is we get to watch the game together in the green room, the whole crew. The bases are covered with Willie on the defensive side and offensively, LaDainian and I cover that. L.T. has a good feel for the big picture also – he has been in San Diego and with the Jets and I’ve been around a couple of places, too. Willie, he played with the Patriots and the Browns, but we don’t count the three years he was with the Browns. We don’t bring that up.
It has been a lot of fun to get involved in that and give my input. If you play football long enough, especially at the quarterback position, you have a feel for every position because you have to know what every position is doing offensively and defensively, so I just try to share it with the fans and hopefully make the game more enjoyable.
David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.
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