Former Packer George Koonce recalls playing in frigid weather

GREEN BAY (WITI) -- Lambeau Field will live up to its "Frozen Tundra" nickname on Sunday, with an arctic front expected to push through the area. Former Green Bay Packers linebacker George Koonce says he will never forget his first winter playing for the team.

"It was an absolute shock in the beginning," said Koonce. "When the weather gets to zero degrees or -22, that's unbearable for anyone."

The North Carolina native eventually acclimated to the frigid winters, even playing in one of Lambeau Field's coldest games on record.

"In '93 the Raiders came to Lambeau, December 26th, it was zero degrees," remembered Koonce. "Prior to the game, Reggie White was in the locker room walking around with Vaseline and pantyhose telling the guys that's the way to kind of stay warm. Put the Vaseline on first and then put the pantyhose on top of it."

The Packers won that game 28-0.

Fans are hoping for a similar outcome Sunday, when the green and gold take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game. Temperatures are expected to be in the single digits, and falling.

"It's gonna be tough, but I think the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers, anything is possible," said Koonce.

Koonce will be watching the game from a box but says he can never forget the games he spent huddled near the sideline heaters.

"They had hot chocolate. They had cider," remembers Koonce. "Go in the locker room, some guys go in the steam room, some guys go into the sauna."

Waiting on the sidelines to play, Koonce said, was the hardest part -- but insists playing in the cold weather was never a problem.

"I tried to block out the crowd, the weather, anything that would distract me," said Koonce.

During his time with the Packers, Koonce says the field was heated but by the end of the game it could get pretty hard, making tackles slightly more painful. The cold, he added, also had a way of making old injuries ache.

Koonce did get used to the Wisconsin weather and made the state his home. He works as the Director of Development at Marquette University.