It’s cold there, and then it’s cold on Soldier Field at the end of December. Bearish weather, that’s what they call it.
For those unfamiliar with the phrase, many — including famed coach Mike Ditka — believe the winter conditions put the Bears’ opponents at a disadvantage.
“We do very well in bad weather. Those sunny days in Tampa and Miami give us trouble,” Ditka said in December 1985 after a cold game against the New York Jets, about six weeks before the Bears won their first — and only — Super Bowl.
But the Bears went only 6-4 in the The 10 Coldest Games at Soldier Field since they moved there in 1971. Saturday’s game against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills could crack that cold list.
The score difference—Bill’s lead by 9½—numbers higher than the lakeside temperature, which 8 degrees is expected at the start (noon, CBS-2) with wind chills as low as minus 14. The National Weather Service on Wednesday issued a winter storm warning for the Chicago area from noon Thursday until 6 a.m. Saturday, and although the snow is expected to leave the area well before the game , severe cold test the bravado of even die-hard fans.
In Week 11, a snowstorm forced the Bills to move their home game against the Cleveland Browns to Detroit. On Saturday, they played the Miami Dolphins on a cold and snowy night in Orchard Park, New York. Now they head to Chicago for another battle with the elements.
The problem is, the Bills know cold and snow as well as anyone, and the Bears (3-11) are in last place in the NFC North and are waiting for the No. 2 pick in the 2023 draft. And the Bills (11-3) lead the AFC East and enter the game as the No. 1 seed in the conference.
But Bears fans are hopeful. Many, like the McGuire family of Northfield, plan to attend the game regardless of the conditions. Stephanie McGuire recalled the cold she sat through – 20 degrees with wind 2, according to Pro Football Reference — during the Bears-San Francisco 49ers NFC Championship game on January 8, 1989. Stephanie, her husband Dan and their children Charlotte and Dylan decided to start a new family tradition after Dylan gifted the family with tickets to Saturday’s game.
“Football is a religion in the McGuire household, and what better way to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus than at Soldier Field against a great football team like the Buffalo Bills?” – said Charlotte.
Best friends Jordan Frum and Scotty Williams attended the Bears-Green Bay Packers game on Dec. 18, 2016. It was 11 degrees at kickoff — the seventh coldest Bears game in Soldier Field history — with a windchill of -4. They will be at the game on Saturday and not worried about the weather.
Frahm said he had no doubts about going because participating in the “coldest game ever” was intriguing. But Williams had some hiccups: “I don’t want to miss Christmas dinner at Aunt Sandy and Uncle Don’s house in Park Ridge, so good we got noon. This is Bears football weather.”
Another Bears fan, Vanessa Corral, traveled from Columbus, Ohio to the game as part of her birthday celebration. She originally planned to arrive in Chicago on Friday, but after seeing news reports of potential blizzard-like conditions, decided to leave Thursday morning. Corral was determined to do it, though her boyfriend, who is not a soccer fan, might be less enthusiastic, she said.
The common theme of this group of Bears fans is that they intend to use alcohol to keep warm (surprise!) and they all know how to stay cool by wearing multiple layers of clothing, arm warmers, hats and scarves. , winter boots and long pants.
But Fram went even further.
“This is the game where I’m going to wear a light jacket under a giant ’70s faux fur-lined coat,” he said. “It’s like putting a 30-pound gravity blanket on a game. Also good insulated snowshoes. When you see people wearing sneakers for a game like this, I say a little prayer for them.”
Frahm offered another tip for fans new to cold-weather games: Bring some corrugated cardboard to stand on to keep your feet warm. His father learned this trick from the Bears’ days at Wrigley Field, and the family still does it to this day.
While everyone is excited about the game, despite the harsh forecast, there are limits. Instead of spending the day outside, the McGuire family and Corral plan to forgo the road trip and opt for a pre-game brunch indoors. As for Fram and Williams, they follow their shared riding tradition.
“Misery loves company,” Williams said. “The tailgate is the main event in lean years like this one. … A few changes to accommodate the cold, like a propane heater and the biggest pot of chili you’ve ever seen.”
But the truest test for Bears fans will be: Will they leave early in windy and bitterly cold conditions with the team down big at halftime?
“Damn it!” Corral said. “I am ready for anything, even if I have to be alone.”
Charlotte McGuire added: “Win or lose, we still drink! We have die-hard Bears fans in our family, and as a member of the Bills Mafia, I’m not going anywhere and I won’t let my family go either.
Frahm said he is also staying put.
But Williams? He can leave early and watch the rest of the game on the radio. Can’t keep Uncle Don and Aunt Sandy waiting too long.