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Former Green Bay Packers linebacker Dave Robinson shares memories from the Ice Bowl, which was played 50 years ago on Dec. 31, 1967.

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Fifty years ago this month, the Ice Bowl became the most iconic game in Green Bay Packers history. On Dec. 31, 1967, playing in frigid temperatures of 13-below zero at kickoff, the Packers won their record-tying third straight NFL championship, beating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 on Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak with 13 seconds to play. They went on to win Super Bowl II in Vince Lombardi’s final game as Packers coach.

This is the third in a series of stories and videos of Packers who played in the Ice Bowl sharing their memories of that unforgettable experience. We asked each participant what they remembered about that day: before, during and after the legendary game.

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Dave Robinson

Packers linebacker Dave Robinson was a key member of a defense that held the Cowboys to 192 total yards.

Before the game:

Do you remember what you had for breakfast that morning?

“I had the same thing every day: a little steak, maybe 4 ounces or so; I had toast with butter. Hot tea with lemon and honey, and scrambled eggs. That was it. And I didn’t have a whole lot. I wanted enough to satisfy my hunger, but I wanted to go into the game hungry, both physically and mentally hungry. And protein takes four hours to digest, so for a noon game I had to be finished eating by 8."

When did you first realize how cold it was?

“I got up early, go down to the kitchen, I was preparing my meal. My wife called to me, she said turn the radio on, it’s 20 below out there. I said no, the day before they’d said 10 above. Ten above is a nice day in Green Bay for Dec. 31. He may have said 20 degrees, not 20 below. She said turn on the radio and the guy said 'oh, it’s cold, it’s 20 below!' And he said it was going to warm up by game time: to 13 below.”

Did you think they might call off the game?

“I knew we were going to play, because the only person who could cancel or delay the game was the commissioner. Pete Rozelle chose to go to Oakland for the AFL Championship that day. And when asked why he wasn’t in Green Bay, he said, ‘Well, I’ve never been to an AFL Championship game before.’ I thought, isn’t that interesting, an NFL commissioner had never went to an AFL Championship game … I wonder why that is? But he’s going this year because it’s 13 below in Green Bay and it’s 80 degrees in Oakland! If he had been here, I think he would’ve delayed or postponed the game because the conditions were horrible.”

During the game:

What do you remember about the game-winning drive? Did Packers linebacker Ray Nitschke really yell to the offense, “Don’t let me down”?

“That isn’t exactly what he said, as I remember it. (laughs) Ray said something all the time. But we went in there before that last series, we had this mindset that we had to come up with a fumble or an interception because our offense was doing nothing. All we needed was a field goal (trailing 17-14), so all we had to do was get a turnover in their territory. And we failed to do it. So we ran off the field and that’s when Ray hollered to the offense …. He said some things I won’t repeat." (laughs)

Your memories of Bart Starr’s game-winning quarterback sneak, which came on third down with only 16 seconds left?

“We were thinking we were going to kick the field goal. I’m trying to get warm because I’m on the field-goal team. So (during a timeout) Bart talks to Vince and he runs that way and Vince turns to us and says, ‘Field-goal team, get up here.’ And I say, ‘Oh Jesus, hope it’s a good play.’ … I was standing right next to Vince and he said, ‘If we don’t make this, you guys run on the field as quick as possible and get the field goal. I look at the clock and it said 16 seconds and we had no timeouts. I said, ‘What are the chances of the Dallas Cowboys hopping up and lining up so we could kick a field goal? They’re going to lay on the ball for 16 seconds. If we don’t make this, it’s over.’ So when I saw the referee throw his hands up for a touchdown, that was one of the prettiest sights in the world.”

After the game:

What was the feeling after you'd won?

“To me, this meant everything. Three (NFL titles) in a row had finally been finalized. And I knew we were going to face a very strong Oakland Raiders team … I wasn’t cocky, I knew we could possibly lose. But even more important, we were under pressure to win by three touchdowns. We had to show the first year (a 35-10 victory in Super Bowl I over Kansas City) wasn’t a fluke, that the National Football League was stronger and better organized, better played. … But this was it, we had won the third in a row. I was celebrating, I was on top of the world. … The Super Bowl was just a bonus.”

For more Ice Bowl 50th anniversary coverage, visit icebowl50.com

 

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