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Worse for the weather
By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published January 20, 2008
The forecast for today's AFC Championship Game in Foxborough, Mass., is cold. The forecast for this evening's NFC Championship Game in Green Bay, Wis., is really cold. We could see single-digit temperatures in both games. We might see a little snow, too. This on the heels of last week's winter wonderland in Green Bay.
So to get you warmed up, so to speak, for today's games, we look back at some of the worst weather conditions in NFL history.
Dallas at Green Bay, Dec. 31, 1967
Still the coldest game in NFL history. Game-time temperature was minus 13. Throw in the wind and it felt like minus 48. Several players suffered frostbite. Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith was hospitalized afterward with pneumonia. The marching band couldn't play because instruments froze. Officials' lips stuck to the whistles, which didn't work after the opening kickoff anyway. On top of all that, it was a classic game, with the Packers winning the NFL title 21-17 on Bart Starr's 1-yard sneak with 16 seconds left. And it all happened onthe frozen tundra of legendary Lambeau Field.
San Diego at Cincinnati, Jan. 10, 1982
The temperature at kickoff was minus 9. Winds howled at 35 mph, making it feel, at times, like 59 below. By the way, Bengals coach Forrest Gregg played in the Ice Bowl as an offensive lineman for the Packers. The game was fairly well-played considering the conditions. Well, well-played by the Bengals, who advanced to the Super Bowl with a 27-7 victory.
Philadelphia at Chicago, Dec. 31, 1988
When this division playoff game started, all was normal. But in the second quarter, a dense fog rolled into Soldier Field, cutting visibility to a mere 10-20 yards. Players said they couldn't see the first-down markers or even the sidelines. Fans had no chance of knowing what was going on. Randall Cunningham threw for 407 yards, but his Eagles couldn't score a touchdown and lost to the Bears 20-12.
Tuck Rule Game
Oakland at New England, Jan. 19, 2002
This division playoff game is best remembered for an apparent Tom Brady fumble that was ruled not a fumble, allowing the Patriots to continue their drive and force overtime with a late field goal. The Pats won on another Adam Vinatieri field goal. But what is often forgotten is the game was played in a blizzard. The field was covered in 4 inches of snow - all of which fell during the game - making Vinatieri's 45-yard tying field goal and 23-yard winner all the more impressive.
Miami at New England, Dec. 12, 1982
Once again, Foxborough was the site for a legendary snow game. Neither the Dolphins nor Patriots scored because of the heavy snow being dumped on the field. New England finally moved into field-goal position late, but the conditions made it nearly impossible to kick. Snowplows were used to clear off every 5 yards, but that's when Pats coach Ron Meyer ordered a prisoner on work release plowing the field to veer off course. He did - clearing a perfect patch for John Smith to attempt a 33-yard field goal. Miami coach Don Shula went nuts, but the snowplow driver cracked, "What are they going to do, throw me in jail?" Smith made the field goal, and the Pats won 3-0.
Kansas City at Tampa Bay, Dec. 16, 1979
With four weeks left in the season, all the Bucs needed to make the playoffs for the first time was a victory or Bears loss. What followed were three straight losses and three straight Chicago victories. That left a final-week showdown against the 7-8 Chiefs ... and the weather. A classic Florida torrential downpour turned Tampa Stadium into a swamp. Water poured down the steps of the stadium like waterfalls. The Bucs scored the only points on a 19-yard field goal by Neil O'Donoghue with 8:50 left and won their division title.
Red Right 88 Game
Oakland at Cleveland, Jan. 4, 1981
The division playoff game started with a temperature of 4 degrees, the coldest since the Ice Bowl. Trailing 14-12 late, the Browns appeared on their way to moving closer to their first Super Bowl berth as they drove into Oakland territory. But nervous because Don Crockett had missed two field goals and had an extra point blocked, the Browns tried to score a touchdown, throwing on a play called Red Right 88. Brian Sipe's pass was intercepted in the end zone by Mike Davis with 41 seconds left, preserving Oakland's win and crushing the Browns' dreams.
San Francisco at Green Bay, Jan. 4, 1997
Among all of the bad-weather games, play in this division playoff game might have been the most affected. First,rain turned the field into a Slip 'n Slide. Then it turned to snow. Then back to rain. Then back to snow. By the fourth quarter, the field was a half-frozen, half-slushy mess. Despite their high-powered offenses, the Packers managed only 210 yards, the 49ers 196. Green Bay jumped out to a 21-0 lead and cruised 35-14.
Buffalo at Cleveland, Dec. 16, 2007
Why is it called the Snowman Game? Well, for starters, there was enough snow in Cleveland to make one as a mix of snow and wind blew off Lake Erie and plowed over Browns Stadium. The snow held down the offenses as Cleveland won 8-0. Get it? The No. 8 looks like a snowman. "When you're a kid, you dream of playing in a game like this," said Browns receiver Joe Jurevicius, who grew up just east of Cleveland.
Seattle at Green Bay, Jan. 12, 2008
Yep, this was just last week as the Packers wiped out a 14-0 deficit to win 42-20. It was one of those games you love to watch - from the comfort of your cozy, warm living room. It was snowing so hard, it looked like giant bugs attacking the cameras. The memory from this game will be quarterback Brett Favre playing as if he were 10 years younger and acting even younger by throwing a snowball at a teammate after a touchdown. And, of course, it was only appropriate that it happened at Lambeau Field.