Home field advantage—this is the phrase that we want to say we have before the game, and something that we say with a slight air of reservation when we mention it in relation to our opponent.
Despite the reputation of being such a good and admirable advantage, not all teams have the statistical advantage of being at their optimal prime while at home. In fact, some do better the further away that they get from their franchise fans. Interestingly enough, the New York Giants win more games away than they do at home, and the Detroit Lions, despite the fact that they only win at home 38 percent of the time, still win at home 2.4 times more often than they do away.
One stadium in particular is revered for the unique advantage that is holds for its team: the Frozen Tundra in Titletown, Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. This fan-owned stadium has been sold out for every game since 1960, and despite the just-announced upcoming expansion, don’t expect it to hold open seats anytime soon. The waiting list for season tickets extends well beyond the life span of a Packer fan, and the list should only get longer with the increased anticipation of more seating.
Playoff games, played in the frigid temperature of the dead of winter, are a special advantage in Green Bay. While many players are from warmer climates or temperature-controlled domes, the Boys from the Bay are out on the frozen tundra of Lambeau practicing regularly, acclimating their bodies to the intense conditions that are offered there under the harsh open sky of a grey Wisconsin winter.
This advantage is so predominant that the Packers previously won each and every post-season game played there for their first 45 years. Ongoing today is the reputation of success and dominance on the field, something that has certainly been earned by the Packers, and not merely a handed title.
While the majority may think that one of the coldest and most frigid states should house a dome for their players, it is exactly these adverse weather conditions that help to give the Packers their edge while bringing opponents into their territory.
Made famous by the 1967 Ice Bowl, this game has been revered as one of the greatest in NFL history, and is the origin of the term “frozen tundra”. Under the direction of coach Lombardi and led by quarterback Bart Starr, this game is one that is used as a measuring stick against Green Bay perseverance and determination.
With wind chill pitting the players against each other in what felt like -48˚F, more was to go wrong. The system which typically heated the turf malfunctioned, creating an ice-like surface for the championship game to be carried out on. To this day some claim that this mishap was intentional, an advantage for the cold-climate Packers against the visitors from the Lone Star State.
Due to the weather, musical performers were transported to the hospital for hypothermia, and instruments froze and malfunctioned, cancelling the game’s musical entertainment for half time.
Metal whistles, frosted and cold, froze to the lips of referees, removing skin and freezing the blood to their lips. For the rest of the proceeding game, hand signals were used in substitution.
Unsurprisingly, it was the Packers who clinched the win in this intense face-off. Despite the joy of the win, the players suffered physical repercussions after the game. Their bodies were taxed, the apparent result of a gauntlet of adrenaline and a pummeling of their bodies on a frozen hell. Toe nails fell off, and frost bite was set in on the fingers of Bart Starr and on the toes of many others players. The exhaustion of the game led many players to weep openly in the locker room after the game, their minds and bodies taken way beyond the ultimate level of endurance.
When one may ask why the Green Bay Packers have the home field advantage that they have, it is games such as that which we can point to for supporting evidence. That is the type of player that Lambeau field breeds. And that is the reason that the Green Bay Packers have, and will likely continue to have, the highest home field advantage in the NFL.