TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — The Last Chance To Be Cold … And Love it

When my cellphone rang the other day, I was tempted not to answer it. After all, I was comfortably relaxed on the couch, cuddled up with a blanket, watching another ballgame on the big screen. Not to mention, our gas fireplace was hard at work nearby, making it extremely difficult to move more than an inch, let alone respond to that disturbing duck sound across the room.

Let me begin with an explanation of “that disturbing duck sound.” At 62, my hearing is fading a bit. And despite hundreds of other more soothing options for my ring choice, I wanted something I could definitely distinguish. So I now answer to a series of loud quacks.

For the most part, it’s proven to be a sensible choice because it’s invasive enough to drown out any other sounds that might otherwise confuse me. Oh, there was that one middle-of-the-night experience when I was rousted out of bed for what I thought was an emergency phone call. As I rubbed my eyes and struggled to find the phone in the dark, I soon realized there was no indication of an incoming call. Turns out, a real duck was perched on our roof, making mating calls identical to my ring tone.

But I digress. On this occasion, I got there by the fourth quack and was able to discern that my old college buddy, Tom Novak, was calling. It would be an invitation to join him for this weekend’s NFL playoff game between our beloved Minnesota Vikings and the heavily favored Seattle Seahawks.

Tom and I are both sports lovers and have certainly attended more than our share of Viking and Minnesota Gopher football games together. In fact, since Tom’s father, Harry, passed away about a decade ago, I’ve usually been the guy lucky enough to share his dad’s longtime season tickets. And considering the Vikings haven’t played in a home post-season game in six years, this should have been a no-brainer.

But rewind a moment. Back to this aging, hard of hearing fellow reluctant to leave the warm couch, who just happened to have watched the extended local forecast moments before. As I was enthusiastically committing to a Sunday at the stadium, my wimpy side was conjuring up terrible thoughts. Very COLD thoughts.  Three pairs of pants, heavy boots and a lined parka kind of thoughts.

As I hung up the phone with Tom, not wanting to admit I had serious reservations about just making this bone-chilling commitment, there was a sense of deep disappointment surging through those bones as well. Whatever happened to that dashing young man of the 1970s, smug and secure in a snowmobile suit? The guy who could sit on cold benches at Metropolitan Stadium, tailgate with the best of them and then laugh at those pathetic Los Angeles Rams huddled by the portable heaters on the sidelines?

I guess he just got old. And way too comfortable. After years of watching indoor winter sports at the Metrodome, buying a car with heated seats and spending too many nights snuggled up by the fire, times have changed.

Sunday’s forecast calls for a high near zero, with winds likely to push the game-time wind-chill reading into the minus teens. Unless the Vikings advance and eventually play a lower-seeded team in the NFC Championship game, which is highly unlikely, this will be the last time local fans will brave the frozen tundra. Next season, Minnesota moves into a state-of-the-art indoor facility. It will have lots of glass, spacious walkways and even license fees for its plush and warm seats.

The coldest professional football game on record, was played on Dec. 31, 1967, in Green Bay, Wis. That classic match between the home-town Packers and the Dallas Cowboys offered a temperature of 13 degrees below zero and has been appropriately dubbed “The Ice Bowl.” This Sunday’s game might make the top five.

Much like former Viking Coach Bud Grant tried to instill in his players during those glory years of the ‘70s, I plan to “embrace” the cold this weekend at TCF Bank Stadium. We won’t need gloves or face masks. In fact, I think we might even sneer at those Seahawks if they try to hang out by the heaters. After all, we Midwesterners like to believe the cool, fresh Minnesota air helps keep the “riff-raff” out.

Yeah, right. Did I also mention I watched an interview with the now 88-year old Grant last night? Even he admitted that the attempt to convince his players that it wasn’t really all that cold was actually a bit of “showbiz.” Thanks, Bud.  My wimpy side just returned.


2 thoughts on “TOM COYNE: Back In Circulation — The Last Chance To Be Cold … And Love it”

  • Jeff New January 7, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Enjoyed the “chilling” article Tom and I too am going to brave the elements and head on down to Sunday’s game, with my Tarvaris Jackson Seahawks jersey being the outermost of the many layers I will be donning.
    Jeff New (your former sports intern at KX).

    1. Tom Coyne January 8, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      Thanks, Jeff and great to hear from you! I’ll be in Section 139 but I have to go get some more socks and a new pair of boots tomorrow. Just hope I wear enough layers to survive.


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