Philadelphia Eagles News

Sanchez, Eagles Prep For Historic Lambeau

Mark Sanchez's eyes lit up when the topic popped up in his press conference Wednesday. This Sunday's showdown with the Green Bay Packers will be the first time the sixth-year quarterback will have a chance to play at Lambeau Field.

The storied Lambeau Field; the venerable Lambeau Field.

"Yeah, first time," he said, sporting a wide smile. "Pretty cool."

For eight years, the massive structure just east of Route 41 was called City Stadium, referred to by locals as New City Stadium so as to distinguish it from a high school football stadium located nearby. In August of 1965 it was renamed after team founder Curly Lambeau, who had passed away two months earlier.

The stadium itself sits at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, one Green Bay football giant parked on another.

Center Jason Kelce said he appreciates the sense of football lore and history in the parking lots surrounding the titanic venue.

"I think it's pretty cool," Kelce said, "the history of the team, the location of the stadium, everything significant up there."

Lambeau Field is the apex of football venues; it's steeped in equal parts history and myth, but unlike many other sporting folk tales and fabled venues, Lambeau Field lives up to the lore.

For players, the Frozen Tundra is a truly special place to play.

Even the normally reserved Brent Celek cracked a smile when asked about playing at Lambeau. Is there a mystique to the venue?

"I think there is," Celek said. "When you go in and see they've got the bleacher seats, it's so old-school, but it's awesome. That's football. I love playing there, and I'll love playing there this week."

Safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has played in Lambeau once before in his career, agreed that the real thing lives up to the reputation.

"It's a stadium with a lot of tradition, a lot of history," Jenkins explained. "It's an experience if you've never played there, just because of all the highlight reels you see on Lambeau Field and all that stuff."

Sanchez said playing at Lambeau is "one of those bucket list things" for football fans and players alike, a trip all avid fans of the game hope to have the opportunity to make during their lives.

A big part of the atmosphere upon kickoff is the Packers' fans relentlessness, the pandemonium in the stands.

"They're tough at home," Sanchez said. "A lot of that is due to their fans, their system, their enthusiasm, their energy. That's going to be a good challenge for us."

Another part of the atmosphere? The actual atmosphere. The notoriously chilly temperatures in Wisconsin, the frigid gem of the north-central United States, earned the stadium the Frozen Tundra nickname for a reason. The record low for Green Bay in November is 12 degrees below zero; this Sunday, the forecast is calling for a high of 29 degrees, and a 30 percent chance of morning snow showers.

Sanchez, who was a California boy until he was drafted by the Jets, said playing in cold weather takes a little while to get used to.

"You've got to put your rainbow sandles away after Halloween," the Long Beach native said with a laugh Thursday. "That was a shellshock, wearing a heavy coat was a shellshock, playing in the snow was different."

Sanchez said during his time in New York, trainers helped him prepare by dumping footballs in water, dumping the balls in snow, and having him throw the freezing pigskins around in practice. He experimented with sleeves, gloves, and even duct-taping the ear holes of his helmet shut to protect his head from the bitter winds.

"Just trying to get comfortable and get used to it, and that really helped," Sanchez said.

If snow indeed falls this weekend, with more than 80,000 raucous fans in attendance, Lambeau will certainly be at the peak of its powers.

The even-keeled veteran Jenkins, however, put all the lead-up to this game, to Lambeau Field and everything that comes with it, in respectful perspective Wednesday.

"You get [to Lambeau], you see the crowd - they've got a great fanbase," he said. "It's definitely an experience.

"But once the ball snaps, it's still just football."

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