By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s around 70 degrees inside U.S. Bank Stadium, but it could be in the single digits when the Vikings and Packers play at Lambeau Field Saturday.

So how do the players keep warm on the frozen tundra? Good Question.

Vikings football at old Met Stadium frequently featured playoff games with no gloves, no heaters but plenty of cold — just the way legendary Coach Bud Grant liked it.

“Cold is not debilitating,” Grant said during an interview a couple of years ago. “We learned that from the Eskimos. You can still be cold and function.”

But like a good defense, it helps if you can get a little coverage.

Joel Wiens is the owner of WSI in Eagan. When the cold comes calling, so do NFL teams — WSI outfits the Vikings and Packers along with players like Tom Brady and Larry Fitzgerald.

“It’s got to be light, thin and warm. And that’s what we are really good at,” Wiens said.

From undershirts to socks and gloves, it’s where science meets sports.

“Your moisture activates that fiber to expand, and the expansion is generating up to 40 percent more warmth compared to other fibers on the market,” Wiens said.

WSI uses “Heatr,” a type of fabric that heats up. Built-in wind stops keep out the wind and wicking technology pulls sweat away from the body so it can evaporate — all while keeping body heat in.

“You get that combination of moving that moisture away from the body — because there’s nothing worse than sitting on the sidelines when you have cold, damp, wet skin,” Wiens said.

Take it from former Gopher and Packer running back Darrell Thompson — he played five seasons at Lambeau Field.

“‘It’s not that cold out.’ That’s the mindset,” he said.

When Thompson played in the early ’90s, he didn’t have the luxury of heat stems that keep helmets warm or benches that warm your entire body. It was mind over matter.

“So I wore thermals underneath, and sometimes I wore nylons,” he said. “You just embrace the moment and realize it’s one of those special film-camera moments that you’ve been waiting for your whole life.”

Thompson said the Vaseline or balm you see some players use on their arms is more for looks than battling freezing temperatures.

This weekend will be cold, but the Vikings have played in much colder games. When they played the Seahawks in a playoff game two season ago at TCF Bank Stadium, it was -6 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of -25.

And for the record, Darrell Thompson is also a Vikings fan, even though he played for the Packers.

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