As Super Bowl XLVIII approached last winter and the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks prepared for potential poor weather, the Pro Football Hall of Fame decided to take a look back at the NFL's coldest championship games to date.
Through this process, a businessman from Brookfield, with no affiliation with the NFL, learned he had became a small part of history.
At nearly 88 years of age, Scott Olsen has seen many places and done many things. As it turns out, one of those places was Lambeau Field in the dead of winter in 1961. And as it turns out, one of those things was becoming the first man to provide heating systems on the sidelines for NFL players during a game.
"A gentleman from the Hall of Fame called me and told me that he had been doing some research and found that I was actually the first person in the history of the NFL to keep the teams warm on the sideline," Olsen said.
To flashback, Olsen, a sales representative for Space-Ray Infrared Gas Heaters Co., and his friends were in Green Bay. Olsen overheard a team trainer discussing the cold and decided to make some calls. Two days prior to the game, temperatures plummeted to -15 degrees Fahrenheit.
"The next day I got a bunch of people together, and we got some propane heaters to try to protect the players. We set it all up and the coaches saw it and said, 'Oh, it's great,'" Olsen said.
He didn't charge the Packers a cent for the system, instead receiving permission (which was later rescinded) to hang a sign promoting Space-Ray Heaters on the backdrop.
"They made me take the sign down, but I still didn't charge them anything. Now, when the Giants came to town, I charged them $500," Olsen said. "So the day of the game, we kept both teams warm."
Temperatures warmed up somewhat from -15 earlier in the week to 20 degrees at game time. But even those chills were not to be felt with great severity on the sidelines, where Olsen's heaters had helped to make the air around the benches 70 degrees.
"At one point, one of the players took his jacket off and threw it on the heater. I had to run over and grab it because it would've melted," Olsen said.
Olsen, a World War II Navy veteran, has maintained his lifelong love of the Packers, as evidenced by pictures and memorabilia hanging around the home he shares with his wife.
"I'm still rather proud of having done that for the Packers and for the NFL," Olsen said. "I got to stand on the same sideline as Vince Lombardi."
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