Don’t ask Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett about the weather for Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers.
Never mind that it will be the team’s first playoff game at Lambeau Field since the famed Ice Bowl in 1967 when temperatures were 13 degrees below zero.
This Ice Bowl II matchup is balmy compared to those standards, with the temperature expected to be around 22 degrees.
All Garrett knows is that it’s going be cold in Green Bay, as it always is this time of year.
But his message to the Cowboys will be the same as it’s been since he took over midway through the 2010 season: Control what you can control. Be your best regardless of circumstances and be prepared to play your best football whether its home, away, parking lot or moon, rain, shine, cold or snow.
“He hasn’t mentioned that that much this week, but he’s mentioned it in the past. You definitely don’t want to have your hands in your pockets this week. Any type of showing that you’re cold this week is bad in front of coach Garrett, definitely,” defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford said. “I am from Canada; that’s not allowed for me.”
Crawford’s perception of Garrett has been dead on.
“We’ll try to re-create that atmosphere wherever we are. That’s why the environment is really meaningless,” Garrett said.
Cowboys equipment manager Bucky Buchanan said the team is taking tons of equipment to Green Bay and the players will have the latest and greatest cold-weather gear available.
“We will have heated benches,” Buchanan said. “We have brought in a couple of more benches. They will have the platform in front to blow hot air up and more hot air blowers on the sidelines. They will have tights, thermals, hand warmers, foot warmers, muffs and layers. I will have the equipment there. That’s up to them if they use it.”
What they will use will vary depending on the player.
One thing is for sure, there won’t be any unified macho look as in Chicago last year when the entire team came out in short sleeves in frigid 8 degree weather.
The Cowboys lost 45-28 and the team looked as cold as it played.
“I learned my lesson last year in Chicago,” safety Barry Church said. “We tried to be tough with the no-sleeves. And I felt like I couldn’t move out there. You have to be comfortable, especially in that type of weather. I will have the ski mask that covers everything except for your eyes and make sure the wind doesn’t touch anything.”
Receiver Dez Bryant and center Travis Fredrick have practiced in the cold weather in Dallas over the last week wearing short sleeves and will probably go sleeveless in the game.
The rest of the Cowboys have bundled up.
“If we’re cold, you’re supposed to wear something when you’re cold. You’re not going to wear sweaters in the summer,” Crawford said.
The key word in the locker room has been “comfortable.”
“It comes down to what is your resistance to the cold, how much can you tolerate it,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “This game, this time of the season: get comfortable.”
The big question is how good can you can feel in bitter cold temperatures?
“Every player wants to play comfortable,” defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. “If you feel comfortable, you’ll play well. It’s hard to get comfortable [in that weather]. I’ll be over there by the heater a lot.”
Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760