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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Leslie Frazier once played for Chicago, where winter weather was simply part of the late-season routine.
He recently recalled, perhaps with slight exaggeration brought by the passage of time, a game against Green Bay during his career in the early 1980s that went on with the biting backdrop of an unfathomable low wind chill.
“That was like, I think, minus-61 if I remember,” said Frazier, now Minnesota’s interim coach, smiling and shaking his head.
Frazier won’t be able to keep his body moving to keep warm on Monday night, when the Bears visit the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. He’ll be running the show from the home team sideline, bundled up as best he can.
The Vikings take occasional late-December trips to play the Packers or the Bears, but the team from arguably the coldest city in the NFL is not accustomed to frosty conditions. They’ve played home games inside since 1982, when the Metrodome opened. The roof caved in last weekend, though, forcing an emergency relocation to this open-air location a few miles away.
Frazier was asked this week how much of a home-field advantage cold-weather teams truly have when the temperature sinks and the snow starts to fall.
“Look at these banners,” Frazier said, motioning to all the purple division and conference championship flags that hang in the Vikings‘ practice facility, recognizing their dominance under Grant, their gruff-and-tough coach, throughout the 1970s.
“I can remember Jackie Slater coming up to me before the game and saying, `Man, you guys need to get a dome over this place,’” Frazier said. “Immediately I knew, in pregame, he ain’t thinking about winning no football game. He’s thinking about the cold.”
So who has the advantage this time?
The Vikings will have their fans in place, but the Bears are certainly more accustomed to the conditions. Last week at whited-out Soldier Field, they were blown out by the surging New England Patriots.
Though several of his players voiced concerns this week about the safety of the field, given the lack of heating coils underneath the turf, Bears coach Lovie Smith downplayed the significance and the effect of a potentially hard surface or frigid air.
“You’re going to have two teams that are going to play under the same environment and conditions,” Smith said. “So again I just don’t see that being an issue in the end. We’re not from Florida, so it’s not going to be a factor for us.”
Well, Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin is a Sunshine State native, as are others.
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