Compendium of cold quarterbacking

"No," he said, sitting in his office in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, "never had that opportunity."

He actually sounded sad. The funny thing? Starr, still remarkably spry just past his 80th birthday, helped win the coldest game on record in NFL history, the 1967 league championship game.

Coming out of the University of Alabama in 1956, Starr was a 17th-round pick by the Green Bay Packers.

"It can get very, very, very, very cold," Starr said of that modest Wisconsin city. "This may surprise you, but I really loved it. My wife was of a different nature. She thought I was crazy, and I may have been."

Starr's sparkling résumé includes MVP performances in the first two Super Bowls. Those games were played in Los Angeles and Miami, and the temperatures were recorded at 72 and 68 degrees. But before that, there was a record cold game for the ages -- the ice ages.

The Dallas Cowboys visited Lambeau Field on Dec. 31, 1967, to play for the right to represent the NFL in that second Super Bowl. They were greeted by a temperature of minus-13, the equivalent of minus-46 when the wind was factored in.

The Packers were trailing 17-14 when they got the ball back on their own 32-yard-line with 4:50 left in the game. Starr, completing three passes, took them all the way down to the 1-yard line. Once there, he twice handed the ball to running back Donny Anderson, who slipped on the frozen field and was stopped for no gain. It was third-and-goal with 16 seconds left when Starr took the Packers' last timeout and walked to the sideline to discuss things with Vince Lombardi. The head coach wanted to try Anderson one more time.

"I said, 'Coach, the back is great, but he's hard-pressed to do this,'" Starr said. " 'He's slipping and sliding trying to get to the line of scrimmage. I'm standing upright there. I can shuffle my feet and just lunge in.'"

Lombardi didn't hesitate. "Then run it," he said, "and let's get the hell out of here!"

In the huddle, Starr called Brown Right 31 Wedge, a run by Anderson. But when the ball was snapped, Starr followed right guard Jerry Kramer over the goal line. The Packers won 21-17, in a contest that would famously become known as "The Ice Bowl."

Starr's advice for the Super Bowl quarterbacks?

"Find a way to put that weather factor in the back," he said. "Don't even think about it. Concentrate on what you need to do to get the job done. I think your attitude is the key to your success."

Starr, who won all five of his playoff games played in freezing conditions, said he forced himself to focus on his mechanics even more than usual.

"What you have to overcome is how cold the ball feels in your hand," he said. "I understand they have gloves today that actually you can pass the ball with. I wish we would have had some of those in those days."

A chilly narrative

Ah, the miracle of the passing glove. It changes everything.

Manning, sheltered by a dome for his 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, experimented over the years with a number of models in practice. He will almost certainly be wearing one on his throwing hand in the Super Bowl. Maybe his left hand, too.

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