The first winter storm of 2014 has largely come and gone, but it has left snow, frigid temperatures and untold delays in its wake. Caught in the mess are the thousands of NFL players, fans and members of the media trying to get to Cincinnati, Green Bay, Indianapolis and Philadelphia, where wild-card games will be played this weekend.
Although many of the players will compete in freezing temperatures, they have not faced many major hurdles yet. After all, the San Diego Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints fly on their own jets and are expected to reach their destinations roughly on time.
Reporters and television crews are another story. Some members of the media, unable to make their flights, have canceled their trips. Fans, too, have been forced to scramble or have decided to stay home.
By Thursday, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers still had not sold out their stadiums, raising the prospect of an NFL playoff game being blacked out in a local market for the first time since 2002, when the Baltimore Ravens-Miami Dolphins playoff game was not shown in and around Miami.
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But the league gave the three teams extensions until late Friday afternoon. That did the trick as team sponsors bought blocks of seats, helping the Bengals, Colts and Packers sell out their stadiums.
Fans planning to attend the Green Bay game Sunday at Lambeau Field are bracing for frigid conditions. Alex Sosnowski, a senior meteorologist at Accuweather.com, expects temperatures at kickoff to be below zero, dropping to about 10 below by the end of the game. With winds up to 20 mph, the wind chill could fall to about 20 below.
The Packers plan to pass out 70,000 hand warmers, packets that fit inside gloves or boots and stay warm for hours. The team will also provide free coffee and hot chocolate.
NEW YORK — Peyton Manning was the only unanimous choice for the 2013 Associated Press NFL All-Pro team.
It was his seventh time as a first-teamer, tying Hall of Famer Otto Graham for the most by a quarterback.
The Denver star set NFL records this season with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards through the air.
He was chosen on all 50 ballots from media members who regularly cover the NFL.
New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and Indianapolis outside linebacker Robert Mathis each drew 49 votes. Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman had 48.
• New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas was ruled out of the team’s playoff game against Philadelphia on Saturday with a back injury.
• Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was fined $21,000 by the NFL for using the crown of his helmet to hit Eagles defensive end Damion Square last weekend. Green Bay linebacker A.J. Hawk and Baltimore safety James Ihedigbo were each docked $15,750 for hitting defenseless offensive players with the crowns of their helmets.
• Baltimore Ravens running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery won’t be back in 2014.