As a thick fog rolled in and settled Christmas morning, my husband showed me a goosebump-raising photo that was a gift from our friend Mark Hudson.
Also shrouded in fog, the vintage shot featured my dad, Ron Kostelnik and his friends and teammates Henry Jordan and Lionel Aldridge in a 1965 game I have since learned became famous both for the foggy conditions in Baltimore and its lopsided score.
In its December 20 1965 edition, Sports Illustrated called that game A Ghostly Massacre.
The Packers beat the Colts 42-27, which proved to be one of the catalysts that jump-started them into the post season and on to the 1966 World Championship.
Another catalyst was Head Coach Vince Lombardi’s unusual method of motivating (and moderating) his troops by sequestering them for five days in a Washington hotel ahead of the big game.
“The ballplayers stayed at the motel all the time,” Lombardi said (according to the article) with a certain tone of grim satisfaction after the game. “They had a 10:30 curfew and they got lots of rest. Today they showed it.”
If you think the five-day sequestration was an anomaly, you don’t know how much Coach Lombardi and his players wanted to win. According to the SI article, the team flew by chartered jet directly from Baltimore to San Francisco following the Colts game, bypassing home and family in Green Bay and settling in to prepare for the 49ers.
“Shows you the value of clean living,” Hall of Fame running back and chief rabble rouser Paul Hornung reportedly said.
No wonder the Lombardi era players built lifelong friendships during those championship years. They spent a whole lot of time together! As did their families back home. My mom would have been back in Green Bay with a 2 1/2 – year old son and an 18-month old daughter (me!) at the time of Lombardi’s gleeful two-week team sequestration.
The Packers did not beat the 49ers, but they did tie them 24-24 and they beat the Colts again the next week to win the Western Conference at a stadium newly named for Curly Lambeau, who had just died two months earlier. In fact, the Packers beat the Colts three times that season in three different cities — Baltimore, Milwaukee and Green Bay.
I really love this photo of a famously foggy football game and the clear insight it provides into the Lombardi dynasty.