Former Cowboy Lilly recalls infamous Ice Bowl
Moments before I was supposed to interview Bob Lilly on Wednesday, the news spread that his teammate Jethro Pugh had died at age 70. Lilly found out from former Cowboys linebacker Lee Roy Jordan.
Pugh was one of the central figures in the famous Ice Bowl in Green Bay. Packers quarterback Bart Starr was able to sneak in from the 1-yard line to win the NFL Championship on that frigid day in 1967. Guard Jerry Kramer blocked Pugh on the play, but Lilly insisted Wednesday that it wasn’t Pugh’s fault. He blamed it on the frozen turf.
Lilly, who remembers nearly every aspect of that day, joined "The Afternoon Show with Cowlishaw and Mosley" on 103.3 FM ESPN.
"We were standing on ice," Lilly said. "That particular quadrant of the field, it froze so hard that brass copper pipe under the turf there that (Vince) Lombardi installed to circulate hot water to keep (the field) from freezing actually froze and broke.
"That particular area was just like ice. The only thing we could have done, we talked about it in the huddle, calling timeout and getting a screwdriver and trying to dig some footholes. We really did talk about it. We knew that they had more people to put up against us. They were gonna run up the middle cause they tried Donny Anderson on a little slant play a play or two before and he slid down. We could tell by the way they lined up. There wasn’t much you could do, cause they had 500 or 600 pounds vs. 270 pounds. Jethro took that. Plus Chuck Mercein came up and gave a pretty good little bump to Bart, although he had his arms up cause if you pushed somebody with the ball forward you had a penalty back in those days. That wasn’t Jethro’s fault. It’s just the way it was."
The weather Sunday in Green Bay won’t be quite as harsh. Gil Brandt won’t have to rent galoshes from a stranger for $20 this time around.
Rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens told us Wednesday he’d never heard of the Ice Bowl before Jason Garrett mentioned it in a team meeting this week. But it’s something Lilly can never forget.
"We were kind of shell-shocked in that game anyway with the weather," he said. "It was supposed to be 15 degrees. It was 18, I think on Saturday, 17 or 18. We played in many games that were 8-10 degrees and it wasn’t bad at all unless the wind was blowing 25 or 30 miles and hour, which it was that day. So we had 35 mph wind and by the time of the game, it was probably 18 below zero."
Pugh was only in his third season with the Cowboys in 1967. He played in the league for 11 more seasons. And on Sunday, he’ll be on the minds of his teammates and fans.