CLEVELAND — Having just spent the better part of four hours on or around the sidelines here at Cleveland Browns Stadium, let me try to convey just how ridiculously cold it is. We’re talking temperatures around 10 degrees, 40 mph wind gusts and a wind-chill that could approach minus-17, they’re telling me. It’s the coldest game ever played between these two rivals, which tells you something.
And having been down there, I’m buying it. I have layer upon layer on, and at least twice my feet just started cramping/freezing. There is a reason this stadium is half full, and it’s not the Browns’ 1-11 record. This is a grudge match and normally Steelers fans travel in swarms, especially to Cleveland. But this place is empty because it’s so flippin cold. I couldn’t imagine sitting out there for four hours, not able to move much. It’s a will-sucking chill, I tell ya.
Which brings me to one of my all-time pet peeves about December football: Dudes playing without sleeves in absurd conditions. A vast majority of the starters on both teams are lacking sleeves out there. What’s up with that? Guys, we already know you are the toughest of the tough. You are playing the ultimate man’s game at the highest level possible. There is nothing left to prove in terms of toughness. Listen to your mothers and put a darn layer of thermal on. It’s not going to make you any less of a warrior.
I’ll never get that. I can’t even begin to fathom what it would feel like to have your bare arms scraping across this freezing turf, or the frost burn that could set in. Okay, rant over. Plenty of game stuff to come.