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Braving The Cold

If the thought of spending an entire afternoon outside in Minneapolis during the winter makes make your teeth chatter, you’re approaching cold weather games the wrong way. According to the Seahawks anyway.

If the thought of spending an entire afternoon outside in Minneapolis during the winter makes make your teeth chatter, you're approaching cold weather games the wrong way. According to the Seahawks anyway. They don't think about how low the temperatures drop.

"Play ball and don't think about it. You got to play ball, do your thing," strong safety Kam Chancellor said. "Your mind is strong. It's all in your mind. You can't think about it."

Linebacker K.J. Wright agreed. "I feel it in the mind," Wright said. "The mind controls the body."

For the record Wright isn't a fan of freezing temperatures. Cold doesn't bother him, but anything below freezing requires an extra level of focus – and petroleum jelly. It's an old trick for staying warm in extreme conditions. A layer of petroleum jelly on exposed skin keeps body heat from escaping. Wright needs just small application on his arms. Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin takes it a step further after spending the first seven years of his career in Cleveland where he dealt with the lake effect and subzero wind chills.

"You'd see old veterans rub it on their face or parts of their arms, but I just took it to an extreme and put it all over my body," Rubin said. "It looks ridiculous but you gotta do what you gotta do to perform at a high level."

Even then, there's only so much you can do on the sidelines. Heated benches and capes take the edge off, but extreme temperatures take their toll.

"You can definitely tell. If it's real, real cold it's hard for you to think and focus," Rubin said. "But if its super hot you're dealing with cramps and dehydration you just have to be mentally tough as a football player."

And try not to approach one game differently from another. Which means not changing their game day attire. Despite Wright's aversion to cold, you won't see him wearing long sleeves on game day.

"It's a man thing. You got to prove your manhood," Wright said. "As linebackers we don't allow such things. I'd rather freeze than have sleeves on. I know it sounds silly but it's about being a man."

It's also about keeping your edge during the game and not letting the opponent see a weakness, which isn't hard for defensive lineman Jordan Hill.

"I like playing in the cold," Hill said. "I grew up in Pennsylvania, played at Penn State in the middle of the mountains so I feel like I play better in the cold. I probably wear fewer clothes. I love it. I hate playing in heat, I'd rather play in the cold all season."

The defense seems more likely to get a charge from cold weather games.

"I don't get tired in the cold, don't get winded in the cold," Chancellor said. "My body runs on a real hot temperature and in the cold I just don't get tired."

The more snaps played, the easier it is to forget about the temperature.

"I'm not going to wear long sleeves," left guard Justin Britt said. "Kind of after that first hit you don't think about it. For the people who have to jump in for certain personnel [groups] I can't imagine how stiff they get. For someone who's out there the whole game you really don't think about it."

"It affects me more than someone who's a starter because I don't play as much and I'm not out there running around but if you're out there playing I don't think it's a huge affect," special teamer Kelcie McCray said.

McCray plays around 20 snaps a game on special teams. His defensive counterparts in the secondary usually get around 60 snaps. That's a lot of time between plays for McCray. 

"I'm tying to stay warm, I'm trying to make sure I don't get stiff," McCray said. "So I try to ride the bike, stretch and hop around and stay as warm as possible and make sure my body stays warm."

McCray can usually shake the cold midway through the first quarter. Receiver Kevin Smith can't afford to let the cold sink in at all.

"You got to worry about your fingers as a receiver," Smith said. "They can get really, really cold and get like frozen fish sticks or bricks, so when the ball hits your hands it's a painful thing."

Smith relies on hand warmers throughout the game and sustained drives to stay on the field and moving. He agrees with the rest of his teammates who say blocking out the cold is the best way to combat it.  

That means that for the next couple weeks you'll see the Seahawks mental toughness on display just as much as their game preparation. 

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