Mike Florio Suggested a Radical NFL Rule Change When the Packers Last Hosted the 49ers in the NFL Playoffs

Article Highlights:

  • NBC Sports’ Mike Florio proposed a radical rule change following the San Francisco 49ers’ road victory over the Green Bay Packers in the 2013 NFL Playoffs
  • Florio suggested the league consider a rule that games couldn’t be played outdoors under a certain temperature
  • Although the idea makes sense, the NFL will likely never consider adopting a temperature rule

The 2021 NFL Playoffs are quickly proving to be a reunion tour for the San Francisco 49ers. A thrilling Wild Card Round victory over Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys marked the latest chapter in the extensive rivalry between both iconic franchises.

Next up for the No. 6 49ers is a clash with the No. 1 Green Bay Packers on Saturday, Jan. 22, in the ninth postseason showdown between both teams. When these two last played in a win-or-go-home at Lambeau Field, the concerns about the game’s playing conditions were so significant that NBC Sports’ Mike Florio proposed a radical rule change in the days before kickoff.

Mike Florio suggested the NFL consider a temperature rule when the Packers hosted the 49ers in January 2014

San Francisco 49ers players walk off the field after a victory in the 2013 NFC Wild Card Game.
San Francisco 49ers players wore long sleeves and bundled up during the 2013 NFC Wild Card Game | Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via Getty Images

Anyone who wore a hat, jacket, heavy pants, and boots to Lambeau Field on Jan. 5, 2014, likely spent the afternoon freezing. Those who chose to wear a short-sleeve shirt — or worse, go shirtless — might still be feeling the effects of a game that featured a 5 degrees Fahrenheit temperature at kickoff and 10 mph wind.

Compared to pregame expectations, the game must have felt like a January trip to Cancun. According to ProFootballTalk, the Jan. 3 weather forecast called for a high of 5 degrees below zero and a low of 20 below on gameday.

Two days before kickoff, Florio shared that NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league didn’t have a predetermined temperature reading that would postpone a game. In response, Florio publicly suggested the NFL reconsider that stance:

“Players and officials will be exposed to those conditions for roughly 90 minutes in the first half of the game, along with another 90 minutes in the second half — even more if there’s overtime. And while fans can, in theory, exit the seating area and look for a warmer spot in the stadium, how warm will any spot in the stadium be, other than the restrooms?”

Mike Florio

Florio did not suggest a potential temperature range at which the game would be too cold. As for the idea of games being too hot in the summer, most preseason games are played at night or indoors.

The less-than-ideal weather didn’t stop 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick from totaling 325 total yards (227 passing, 98 rushing) and engineering a game-winning 14-play, 65-yard drive in the final 5:09.

Although Florio’s idea makes sense, the NFL will likely never consider it

In theory, Florio has the right idea. The problem is there are far too many logistical options to ever make such an idea truly work.

At the time, Florio suggested the NFL consider moving the game up to Saturday, Jan. 4, and either playing three games that day or moving a Saturday game to the Packers’ Sunday slot. Nearly a decade later, it is difficult to imagine the league voluntarily moving its schedule around because of cold weather, especially given the TV slots.

Suppose an outside party proposed an idea in which a cold-weather Packers playoff game would be moved to either Detroit’s Ford Field or Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium, both of which are indoor facilities. In that situation, the league would effectively punish the Packers for low temperatures and wind, both of which are out of their control.

The difference between moving a game over a snowstorm and moving one over temperature is simple. In chilly, windy weather, fans can safely make it to Lambeau Field or Chicago’s Soldier Field. They cannot do so if the road is covered in ice and snow.

The pride and home-field advantage elements also make such a rule change unrealistic. Teams like the Packers or the Kansas City Chiefs want as much of an advantage as possible. In theory, hosting a warm-weather team or one that plays in an indoor facility should provide that advantage. Although, of course, the 49ers didn’t care for that theory in January 2013 or 2014.

The NFL has had good luck avoiding extremely cold playoff games over the last decade

The reality of life in the NFL is that games will be cold in January, especially when the likes of the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Buffalo Bills are hosting postseason games. However, the league has mostly managed to avoid games with temperatures as potentially dangerous as they might have been when the Packers hosted the 49ers eight years ago.

Ten of the NFL’s 32 teams currently play in stadiums that are either domed or feature a retractable roof. The league also has three Florida-based teams that worry more about downpours than wind chill this time of year. No one is expecting 10-degree weather at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

With that said, the 2015 Wild Card Round showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium still ranks as one of the coldest games in NFL history. The two NFC foes clashed in a game featuring -6 degree weather and a -25 degree wind chill at kickoff. Seattle infamously won, 10-9, after Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal in the final minute.

Had the league listened to Florio, maybe Walsh would have kicked inside Ford Field and ensured the Seahawks’ season ended. Life went on then, and it will go on regardless of whatever the kickoff temperature is for Saturday’s game between the 49ers and Packers.

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