The NFL has bowed to hurricanes in the past. It has postponed or relocated games due to heavy snowfall or blizzard-like conditions, or when that accumulated moisture collapses the inflatable roof of a since-bulldozed multi-purpose stadium (tip of the cap to Minnesota's Metrodome). The league has even moved a game across state lines after wildfires encroached too close to San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.
But since 1933, the NFL has never postponed, moved or canceled a football game due to dangerously low temperatures. The Packers and Cowboys played the 1967 NFL Championship Game despite minus-13 temperatures with a windchill that neared 50 below zero.
Cold is not an excuse. And fans love it -- at least the ones watching on TV, who revel in seeing a game played in such Spartan conditions. But that cold is a genuine challenge for players, especially during their long stretches on the sideline.
NFL teams have found a number of inventive solutions to combating cold weather. You'll see most of them on display in Sunday's NFC wild -card playoff game in Minneapolis between the Vikings and Seahawks, where temperatures at kickoff may be as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Outdoor heaters are a common sight on any NFL sideline stricken with bitter cold, but these can come in different forms. The low-tech versions are simple space heaters providing a modest injection of warmth to bench areas. In other setting, such as Green Bay, teams have geared up with gas-powered heaters that blow heat across the entire sidelines. These generate 600,000 BTUs of heat, enough to elevate the sideline to a moderate temperature even in sub-zero temperatures.
There are risks, of course. Stand too close, and you risk warping or melting parts of your uniform -- including your helmet, which is custom molded to your head. More than one NFL player has also melted part of his receiving gloves while trying to warm up his hands with these heaters.
Deodorant ... on your feet
Forget foot odor: A little anti-perspirant can help athletes retain their heat in frigid temperatures. As Ravens equipment manager Ed Carroll explains to Popular Mechanics, perspiration does more than just release body heat, and in cold weather it can sabotage an athlete. Anti-perspirant can solve the problem.
"If you don't perspire, you don't get as cold," he says. "A lot of guys say, 'What the hell are you talking about?' But when the feet perspire, the socks get wet and it makes it feel colder."
Heat packs, tucked in a pocket
When you see quarterbacks, wide receivers and other skill position players tucking their hands into a muff worn around their beltline, they're not just sheltering their hands from the cold -- they're likely wrapping their hands around chemical heat packs that generate warmth when exposed to the air. It's a small way to access some artificial warmth during long drives that keep players on the field -- and away from the heated comforts of the sideline.
League-issued thermal baselayers
Cold-weather base layers are made by almost every maker of athletic performance-wear. In the NFL, though, players have to adhere to the league's contract on base-layer equipment. That means they're all wearing the Nike Hyperwarm Flex, designed for maximum insulation and warmth, according to Sports Illustrated.
Players likely have their own preferences when it comes to base layers, but we all know how the NFL feels about diversions from its dress code.
Nike owns the base-layer domain, but underwear is a different matter. In the Seahawks-Vikings game, both teams will be wearing high-performance underwear supplied by a true underdog. Minnesota-based WSI Sports has gained a reputation for supplying the best underwear experience when playing professional football in sub-zero temperatures. As USA Today reports, the company first supplied undies to the Packers and 49ers for a 2014 playoff game. Now, it has cornered the market again.
"This has been a big break for us," the company's owner and founder tells USA Today. "I've spent most of my life pounding away, and we've been successful. But over the last few years, we've gotten noticed by designing better and better cold-weather gear."
Love for the glove
Wide receivers have taken to wearing gloves in every regular-season game as a way of improving their catching. And gloves are catching on among quarterbacks as a weekly staple, regardless of the weather conditions. Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, for example, always wears a glove on his throwing hand, so he won't have to make much of an adjustment for this week's cold weather.
Still, both skill position players and non-skill players will likely be wearing gloves in frigid temperatures, both to keep their hands warm and to improve their grip -- low temperatures can affect feeling on players' fingerpads, which could otherwise interfere with ball-handling and even tackling.
Where's your shirt, son?
Few sights are as stunning as the image of a football player standing bare-armed while local governments issue a winter weather advisory. When it comes to staying warm, basic coverage should be Step No. 1, right? But there's some logic behind this decision.
As some may presume, part of it is in the spirit of projecting toughness. Former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo told Business Insider that sleeves are often a no-no among tough-minded NFL defenses:
"That reinforces a mentally tough state of mind and it also is used as an intimidator to the opposing team, like a gorilla pounding on his chest in jungle, saying, "Look at me I don't need sleeves in the cold."
But there is a tactical argument, too: Sleeves create another surface for opponents to grab and tackle with. Some offensive players do wear them, but they're fair game if a defender grabs a piece of fabric and pulls a player to the ground with it.
If those reasons don't satisfy you, there's also biological argument: Arm sleeves simply don't make as much of a difference. Athletes lose much more heat from their heads, hands and feet than their arms, so warming this part of the body isn't a high priority.
A mish-mash of solutions will help players weather the harsh temperatures. But for all the partial fixes, such low temperatures are almost certain to have an impact on any football game.
That's both a beauty and a burden for NFL playoff football, but in either case, it will make for great TV. Perhaps there are some hot toddies waiting for players in the locker room.