Snow football has me in its icy grip

For some people, it’s train crashes in the Himalayas. For others, it’s Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen. For me, it’s football played in snow. When this happens, some hormone kicks in that prevents me from changing the channel, no matter how hard I try.

This is why I missed Deante Purvis returning a kickoff 98 yards for a UNLV touchdown Saturday.

Army and Fordham were playing football in the snow. Lots of snow. A freak October nor’easter dumped nearly 2 feet of the heavy, wet stuff on states where they talk funny. The pah-king lots were a mess.

Michie Stadium on the West Point campus was transformed into Kitzbuehel during the World Cup skiing season. It was like the Battle of the Bulge, minus the Panzer divisions. Army defended its side of the field as if it were Bastogne. 

Fordham’s offensive line once was composed of Vince Lombardi and the Seven Blocks of Granite. Against Army, it consisted of Seven Snowmen named Frosty.

At the other end of the field, the Black Knights made white snow angels in the end zone. Army scored 55 points. Fordham scored none.

I have never watched a 55-0 football game to its conclusion, not even when the players were wearing lingerie. But I did not turn away from Army-Fordham, because it kept snowing and those hormones had seized control of the remote.

“I kept saying it was like Christmas,” said Max “Yeti” Jenkins, the Army quarterback. “It was my first snow game and a lot of other guys’, too. How could you not get a little excited?”

Fordham coach Tom Masella did not sound nearly as excited. For starters, the Rams are a passing team and the equipment managers did not bring snowshoes and tire chains. Like Garth Brooks, Fordham traveled in three buses, and one broke down. The Saint Bernards didn’t arrive until the fourth quarter.

Twenty of the Rams never made it to the Banks of the Hudson. Everybody else got snowballed. Except for one. Masella said kicker Mike Marando was afraid of the Winter Wonderland and pretended to be Parson Brown.

“He thought he was going to screw up,” Masella said. “I said, ‘It’s 55-0, there’s not much we can screw up at this point.’ “

Marando is a 5-foot-10-inch, 145-pound freshman. Had he played, they might still be digging him out of a drift.

This would have been just another meaningless game on the CBS Sports Network — that’s Cox channel 2,014 on your TV dial — were it not for the snow. The wintry weather rekindled memories of other meaningless football games played in snow, and of firing snowballs at long-haul truckers.

Remember the 2000 Independence Bowl between Texas A&M and Mississippi State? The game was played in a blizzard — in Louisiana — and featured a blizzard of points. The Bulldogs won 43-41 when quarterback Wayne Madkin scored the last touchdown of the 20th century on a draw play in overtime. Snow games on the last day of a century should always go to overtime.

The 2000 Independence Bowl was one of eight football games nicknamed the Snow Bowl that Google turned up. One of these was an all-star game for NCAA Division II seniors played in Fargo, N.D. In 2001, it moved to Kingsville, Texas, and was renamed the Cactus Bowl. Don’tcha know the Coen brothers and Marge Gunderson were not pleased.

There also are Snow Bowls in Vermont, Arizona and Montana, but these are skiing locales.

Though most games played in snow would not be historical footnotes were it not for Mother Nature getting up on the wrong side of a low-pressure front, one game of significance was played under such conditions. The Patriots, who are almost always involved in these games, beat the Raiders 16-13 in the AFC playoffs on Jan. 19, 2002, after Tom Brady appeared to fumble away the season. Then, upon further review, the Tuck Rule was created. The pah-king lots were a happy mess.

Two more dubious snow games worth mentioning: the 1993 Thanksgiving Classic, during which Leon Lett went slip-sliding away in snow and sleet and muffed a victory for the Cowboys; and the infamous Snow Plow Game of 1982, when Ron Meyer, the former UNLV and Las Vegas Posse coach, then of the Patriots, ordered a convicted burglar on work-release to get on his John Deere 314 and sweep off an area so John Smith could kick a game-winning field goal against the Dolphins.

Meyer, always the showman, gave plow operator Mark Henderson a game ball after New England’s 3-0 victory.

I was thinking about that, and how Meyer looked way better coaching in a long, red parka than he did with a bare, bronzed chest leaking tanning oil (which is how he coached practice with the Canadian Football League’s Posse) when the Army-Fordham game went off, and the Harvard-Dartmouth game came on.

It was snowing heavily in Cambridge, Mass.

So I also missed Philip Payne setting the UNLV record for TD receptions.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.

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