What’s It Like Playing Football In Snow? Former NFL Players Weigh In

Philadelphia Eagles receiver Torrey Smith celebrates a first down against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl 52 on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis. This game was played in the friendly confines of US Bank Stadium which is a domed venue. Smith has said he doesn't like playing in bad weather. AP PHOTO/GREGORY PAYAN

What is the perfect temperature for an NFL football game?

It depends who you ask. Some former players AccuWeather spoke to have specific numbers in mind: 60 degrees and 72 degrees.

The two games of the NFL wildcard round will be played on Saturday, January 14, 2023. There will also be three games on Sunday January 15, 2023. One game will take place on Monday January 16, 2023.

Sports analysts are predicting that the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles will be among the teams set to make the playoffs.

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It is likely that one or more games could be played in colder climes. Will this unsettle the players?

One of the top quarterbacks in the 2021 NFC Championship game said he likes his game temperature significantly colder.

After his team’s second-round playoff win over the Los Angeles Rams on Jan. 16, 2021, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made a small request to Mother Nature for the team’s next home game.

“Hopefully it’ll be a little colder than tonight,” Rodgers said. according to Packers Beat writer Ryan Wood.

Rodgers got his wish. Temperatures for the game against the Rams were in the low 30s, which is actually above normal for January 16 in Green Bay.

While football fans can enjoy watching huge playoff games played out amidst the elements, be it heavy rain, snow or even frost, for athletes on the gridiron playing football in inclement weather is not always optimal , depending on the position they play.

Former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, who had an eight-year career with the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants, told AccuWeather that while he only played one game in the snow as a pro , “but it was the most fun I’ve ever had.”

A Los Angeles native, Schwartz never got to play in the snow until he attended the University of Oregon.

Schwartz, who has continued to study the game since retiring from the sport, said one of the reasons he loves to play in the snow is because it gives an advantage on offense.

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“The snow favors the attack because we are the ones who know where we are going and the defense is very reactionary. And when their footing is bad, they don’t move as fast as we do,” Schwartz said.

Former NFL wide receiver Torrey Smith, who won Super Bowls with the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles, recently took to Twitter about what it’s really like to play in bad weather. His opinion was slightly different from Schwartz’s.

“That is what I said [a] a few weeks earlier. Playing in bad weather is only fun as a kid. As a professional, it sucks, but you still have to assert yourself.” Smith wrote. Smith declined to comment further on this story.

“I know nobody cares about the big guys, but playing in the snow for an offensive lineman is great. This DL [defensive linemen] can’t move very well,” Schwartz said in a reply to Smith’s tweet.

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Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is congratulated by guard Geoff Schwartz after scoring a touchdown in the first half of an NFL game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland December 8, 2013. Schwartz told AccuWeather he enjoys playing games in snowy conditions. AP PHOTO/PABLO MARTINEZ MONISVAIS

Schwartz said there is often some public misconception about playing in the snow.

“We hear these narratives that say, ‘Oh, you can’t score; you can’t work in the snow,’ and that’s really not true,” Schwartz said. “A lot of points are scored in the snow.”

In the midst of one of the few snowy games of the 2020 NFL season, the Packers defeated the Tennessee Titans 40-14 on December 27 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. In 2013, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Detroit Lions 34-20 in the midst of a heavy snowstorm.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy rushed for a franchise-record 217 yards that day. Afterwards he said: “That was the worst game I’ve ever played in terms of weather. Also the best game.”

Four years later, on December 10, McCoy produced another memorable performance while playing for the Buffalo Bills against the Indianapolis Colts in the Snow Bowl. Heavy lake effect snow dumped 16 inches of snow in Orchard Park, a suburb of Buffalo, with 8 to 9 inches falling during the game alone. McCoy scored on a game-winning 21-yard touchdown rush. He had a monster game that day, rushing for 156 yards on 32 carries. This game was a fewer points affair, however, with a final score of 13-7.

Former NFL tight end Owen Daniels, a two-time Pro Bowl pick who played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos, agreed with Schwartz. The offensive seems to have an advantage in bad weather.

“Usually knowing where you’re going when the field is a little slippery, whether it’s raining or cold or even frozen, it’s usually an advantage on offense,” Daniels said. “It’s less of a reactionary movement where I think there’s more slippage if you’re just kind of reacting to someone else moving or cutting somewhere.”

Daniels spent eight seasons with the Texans, a team that plays in a retractable-roof stadium, so he probably didn’t play most of the snow until 2015 in Denver, he told AccuWeather.

When it comes to going open in the NFL, speed is an important factor, as is separation from the defender. Here the right studs and a stable footing are a great advantage, especially when the fields are slippery.

In terms of accumulation, even a light layer of snow is enough to affect play, Daniels said. On several occasions, Daniels had to change the type of cleats he wore during a game to get a better stance.

Owen Daniels
Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels in action against the Green Bay Packers during an NFL football game December 7, 2008 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Daniels told AccuWeather it was the coldest game he’s ever played, kicking off with a temperature of 3 degrees. AP PHOTO/MIKE ROEMER

“We’ve had a couple of games in Denver where snow accumulated on the field and there’s a difference between [the field] be dry and even just a bit like a coating,” he said. Daniels added that a layer of snow could give a player a false sense of security – that they can still run and cut as usual.

Precision and timing when running a route are critical for offensive players, who often walk to a spot on the field where the quarterback expects them to land. Even a small slip for a player can be enough to result in a game-changing defense turnover, Daniels said.

Daniels said if an offensive player moves more tentatively in heavy snow or even a light buildup, it might make defense a little easier.

When it comes to playing in severely cold conditions, Schwartz said it’s not so bad when you play on the field. But it can be effective when players are resting on the sidelines or trying to warm up before the game.

“Most guys don’t warm up when it’s cold, or when they do, it takes a lot longer to warm up,” Schwartz said. “They know they wear long sleeves and thermal tights. They put petroleum jelly on their bodies to keep the heat in. They wear extra gloves. When the weather is bad, you have to prepare yourself in a different way.”

In 2008, Daniel’s third year in the league, the Texans took a road trip to Green Bay to play the Packers in December. The game temperature that day was a freezing 3 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Pro Football Reference.

It was “absolutely” the coldest game of Daniels’ career, he said. Luckily it wasn’t windy that day, so the cold was almost bearable, he said, laughing.

Daniels said for Southern teams that have to travel north to places like Green Bay late in the season, there’s really no way to prepare for the cold. However, he doesn’t think that will affect the Buccaneers this weekend, largely because of the size of the game and Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady’s long postseason history in cold-weather games for the New England Patriots.

“If it’s a championship game, if you… want to come out victorious, if you’re going to succeed [in] We can’t let the weather play a role in this game,” Daniels said.

If he could pick his ideal weather to play in, Daniels would choose 60 degrees and cloudy so the sun doesn’t play a role, especially in stadiums where shadows come into play.

Schwartz said his perfect weather would be 72 degrees with an offshore breeze.

“If they played in Santa Monica, California, that would be the best place to ever play,” he said.

Produced in collaboration with AccuWeather.

The Western Journal did not review this story prior to publication. As such, it may not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided as a service to our readers by The Western Journal.

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