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Packers Preparing For Record Heat


The 80s music that played over the sound system in the Green Bay Packers' locker room Thursday smacked of potential. But, alas, no Buster Poindexter.

Instead, the Packers took to the Don Hutson Center for the second straight day in preparation for this weekend's hot, hot, hot meeting with the Arizona Cardinals.

Afternoon temperatures are expected to reach 104 degrees in the Valley of the Sun, Sunday.

If that's the case, it will be the hottest regular-season game that any Packers team has ever played, surpassing the 102-degree kickoff-temperature that greeted the Green and Gold at San Diego in 1978.

"It's hot as hell out here," Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis said bluntly this week, "but that's where we live."

And, unfortunately, it's where the Packers will have to play this weekend, in the worst part of the day, wearing their green uniforms that are traditionally used for home games, while the Cardinals dress in white.

"Maybe we'll feel like we're at home then," linebacker Nick Barnett quipped.

Then again, maybe not.

Even though the Midwest humidity drove temperatures in Green Bay to the high-90s this summer, the Packers' training camp conditions were a far cry from the oven-like climate that awaits them in Tempe.

"There's nothing that could happen in training camp that could simulate 102 degrees," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said. "Towards the end of training camp we did practice in the heat of the day in anticipation of warm games and of us traveling down to Arizona, but still it didn't resemble the heat issues that we're going to face this weekend."

If it had, the Packers probably would have done their best to stay out of it anyway.

"They're probably practicing either early in the morning or late at night," quarterback Brett Favre said of the Cardinals. "It's no difference between us and the cold (in Green Bay). We don't really practice in the cold."

Instead, the Packers hold the majority of their winter workouts in the Hutson Center, which is just where they have been practicing this week.

Although some reports have mistakenly suggested that the Packers have in fact cranked up the heat inside the indoor practice facility, the closed airspace and the relatively warm temperatures outside have been enough to keep conditions around a breezeless 80 degrees.

Making it any warmer than that might be counterproductive.

"It might drain us, actually," safety Darren Sharper said. "Just closing the doors inside is going to make it hot. The main thing we need to do is hydrate and drink a lot of water and Gatorade and electrolyte this week and we'll be fine."

Hydrating has been the theme of the week in Green Bay. Players have been asked to ingest at least three bottles of water or Gatorade a day, and the coolers outside team meeting rooms and in the dining hall are well stocked as always.

Despite the adverse conditions and the heightened possibility of cramping, some of the Packers are actually looking forward to the warmer weather.

One of them is wide receiver Robert Ferguson, who spent his youth and college years in Texas and believes the heat will actually help his sprained right knee loosen up before the game.

Another is Javon Walker, who attended Florida State, and has spent the past two summers working out in the Phoenix area.

Offensive guard Mike Wahle, who spends his offseasons in Las Vegas, went as far as to repeat that standard Southwest refrain: "It's a dry heat."

"(In Green Bay) we're pretty accustomed to having that humid weather that really saps your energy," Wahle said. "From that perspective, I think that the humidity is a little worse than just the blaring heat."

Even if it's not, the Packers won't be the only ones made to suffer.

"It's hot for us, too," McGinnis said. "It's not exactly like we play on the shaded half of the field and everybody else plays on the sunny side."

Warmest Recorded Games In Packers History:

09/24/78 @ San Diego (W 24-3) 102

09/19/65 @ Pittsburgh (W 41-9) 90

09/13/92 @ Tampa Bay (L 3-31) 90

09/20/81 @ Los Angeles Rams (L 23-35) 89

10/14/90 @ Tampa Bay (L 14-26) 88

10/27/91 @ Tampa Bay (W 27-0) 88

09/23/84 @ Dallas (L 6-20) 87

09/18/88 @ Miami (L 17-24) 87

11/11/90 @ Los Angeles Raiders (W 29-16) 87

09/24/00 @ Arizona (W 29-3) 87

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