CLEVELAND, Ohio — Oh, the weather is awful outside, but the Browns still plan to put on some Christmas cheer at their final home game at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday against the Saints.
“Whatever we have to play, buckle up, put on your extra sleeves, wear your leggings, whatever you have to do, but you can’t worry about it,” Myles Garrett said Thursday. “You have an opponent in the lead and you have to go 1-0.”
Saints defender Paulson Adebo likely spoke for many players on both sides about the mindset going into this dangerously cold game.
“Even though they’re playing out there, they’re going to be so (expletively) cold,” he told reporters in New Orleans. “We’re all in the same boat.”
Featured Browns Stories
The boat will be more like a cryomachine, according to Weather.com, with a playtime forecast of 12 degrees, with wind gusts of about 30 miles per hour and a perceived temperature of minus 10, according to Weather.com. If true, it will be the fourth coldest game in Browns history. The last time the Browns played in 15 degrees or colder was on December 10, 2009 in a 13-6 win over the Steelers.
It’s so cold that tickets are only $3 and $5 at StubHub and Ticketmaster, respectively. Conditions are so dangerous – with danger of frostbite to exposed skin within minutes – the Browns allow fans to bring additional items into FirstEnergy Stadium: a thermos, 20 ounces or less; Blankets, as well as portable chargers and non-dry batteries (both no larger than 6″ x 3″ x 1.5″) to power heated clothing. Battery packs must be disconnected during security checks.
“This is by far the worst or coldest thing in my life,” said rookie defense end Alex Wright, who will start in place of Jadeveon Clowney (concussion). “I just have to go in with the attitude: it’s not cold, it’s not cold, it’s not cold. It’s not like I’m just going to be out there shaking. I will be football on my mind. I get locked into the game. So it won’t be a big deal at the end of the day. I’m just out there playing soccer.”
Wright doesn’t plan to be shirtless in pregame warm-ups like tight end David Njoku said, or be sleeveless during the game like Nick Chubb plans to be.
“Oh no, I wear long sleeves,” Wright said. “But that just comes with just feeling good and playing confidently, just not having any kind of distraction.”
Greg Newsome II, who grew up in Chicago and played for Northwestern, has played in freezing conditions, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
“I don’t think you can necessarily prepare for that,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be cold, but it’s like a decision you have to make. It’s like you let that affect you, doesn’t it? That’s the only decision. Everyone likes to say that you went to the Northwest and you can prepare for a cold. I’m cold too. But it’s just the attitude you go into the game with.”
He said the cold was more of a factor on the touchlines than on the field.
“When you’re on the field, think about what game they’re going to play,” Newsome said. “You’re thinking about hitting your husband across from you. So I have a feeling you can do that. Of course there is compression stuff, but personally I don’t think any of it really works.”
Kevin Stefanski hasn’t necessarily banned Njoku from warming up shirtless, or Chubb from playing sleeveless.
“We’ve educated everyone, if you’re into these types of games, whatever the unique part of the game, you make sure you educate your players and we will do that. At the end of the day, these guys know their bodies.”
Stefanski has played in at least one game that cold—a Seahawks 10-9 win over the Vikings in an NFC wild card game on Jan. 10, 2016. More than 50,000 fans braved the cold at TFC Bank Stadium with kick-off temperatures below freezing 6 and wind chills of minus 25. It was the coldest game in Vikings history and the third coldest playoff game in NFL history.
“It was all good until my lashes froze,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said after that game. “Then you kind of realize it might be pretty cold out here. I went outside to warm up before everyone came out and jogged. My contact lenses are almost frozen. You can never prepare for this weather or cold because it’s like sitting in the freezer.”
But Stefanski downplayed the weather all week. The Browns still have a 1% chance of making the playoffs and they plan to keep everything on the field. The 5-9 Saints have about a 2% chance of making the playoffs. They are in a three-way tie with the Panthers and Falcons, just a game behind the 6-8 Bucs.
“Again, that’s the great part of our league, you have games that you can play in different conditions,” said Stefanski. “Sometimes you’re playing and it’s really hot. Sometimes you’re playing and it’s windy and it’s really cold or whatever. The truth is that the conditions will be exactly the same for both teams, so it will be about who executes and who does their job.”
The Saints flew to Cleveland on Thursday after practicing in New Orleans to weather the storm and performed a tour of their downtown hotel’s ballroom on Friday. They stayed indoors all Friday but enjoyed the chilly views of Lake Erie and the driving snow from their hotel.
With most flights to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport canceled Friday, most reporters covering the Saints were stuck in New Orleans and will not be covering the game in person.
The only one who made the trip is Ricardo LeCompte, sports host and reporter for WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate in New Orleans. But LeCompte had a head start. His fiancee, Jen Hannon, is from Wellington, Ohio and they drove here for their Christmas vacation last week. LeCompte told cleveland.com he thinks he and Saints team reporter Erin Summers would be the only two local Saints reporters at post-game press conferences.
“It could be kind of interesting,” LeCompte said. “Hopefully I don’t forget an important point.”
LeCompte, from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., will be doing some post-game video coverage from the field, but shoveled snow in Wellington on Friday and got a feel for what it’s going to be like.
“I think I’m ready,” he said.
So are some of the Saints players.
“I can’t wait,” offensive linemen Calvin Throckmorton told Saints reporters. “I’m really looking forward to this game. I’ve never played in the snow or that cold.”
Offensive lineman James Hurst added, “Really, you’re talking about under 20 degrees. It’s like, what does it matter? you are freezing It’s all the same. At this point, it’s just a number.”
The Browns hope the post-game number is 7 — not the time, but their wins.
STATES: OHIO PRE-LAUNCH BONUS
GET A BONUS
+ START PROMO
With the arrival of FanDuel in Ohio, bettors in Ohio can start betting on January 1st. Other sportsbooks entering the state include Barstool Sportsbook, Caesars and DraftKings.
If you or a loved one have questions and need to speak to a gambling professional, call the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 or the National Council on Program Gambling Helpline (NCPG) at 1-800-522 . 4700