Browns and Saints ready to Brrrring it on at FirstEnergy Stadium for one of the coldest games in the history of the NFL

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the Browns still plan to provide some Christmas cheer in their last home game at FirstEnergy Stadium Saturday against the Saints.

“Whatever we gotta play in, strap up, put your extra sleeves on, wear your leggings, whatever you gotta do, but you can’t be worried about that,” Myles Garrett said Thursday. “You got an opponent ahead and you’ve gotta go 1-0.”

Saints defensive back Paulson Adebo likely spoke for plenty of players on both sides about the mindset heading into this dangerously cold game.

“Even though they play out there, they’re going to be cold as (expletive) too,” he told reporters in New Orleans. “We’re all in the same boat.”

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The boat will actually be more like a cryo machine, with a game-time forecast of 12 degrees, with wind gusts of about 30 mph and a feels-like temperature of minus 10, according to weather.com. If that holds true, it will be the fourth-coldest game in Browns history. The last time the Browns played in 15 degrees or colder was Dec. 10, 2009, a 13-6 victory over the Steelers.

It’s so cold, tickets on StubHub and Ticketmaster are going for as low as $3 and $5, respectively. Conditions are so dangerous — with the threat of frostbite for exposed skin in minutes — the Browns will allow fans to bring additional items into FirstEnergy Stadium: one thermos, 20 ounces or less; blankets, as well as portable chargers and non-dry cell batteries (both no larger than 6 inches by 3 inches by 1.5 inches) to power heated apparel. Battery packs must be disconnected during security inspection.

“This is by far the worst or coldest in my life,” said rookie defensive end Alex Wright, who will start in place of Jadeveon Clowney (concussion). “I just gotta go in with the mindset, It’s not cold, it’s not cold, it’s not cold. It’s not like I’m just going to be out there just shivering. I’m going to be football in my mind. I’m going to be locked into the game. So it’s not going to be a big deal at the end of the day. I’m just out there playing football.”

Wright has no plans to go shirtless in pregame warmups like tight end David Njoku said he’ll do, or sleeveless during the game like Nick Chubb plans to do.

“Oh no, I’m wearing long sleeves,” Wright said. “But that just goes along with just being able to feel good and play confidently, just not having any type of distractions.”

Greg Newsome II, who grew up in Chicago and played at Northwestern, has played in frigid conditions, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

“I don’t think you can ever necessarily prepare for that,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be cold, but it’s like a decision you gotta make. It’s like are you going to let it affect you or are you not? That’s the only decision. Everyone loves to say you went to Northwestern, you can prepare for cold. I’m cold too. But it’s just the mindset that you go into the game with.”

He said the cold is more of a factor on the sidelines than on the field.

“When you’re on the field, you’re thinking about what play they’re going to run,” Newsome said. “You’re thinking about beating your man across from you. So I feel like that’s something you can do. Obviously there’s compression stuff, but me personally, I don’t think any of that honestly works.”

Kevin Stefanski hasn’t necessarily forbidden Njoku from warming up shirtless, or Chubb from playing sleeveless.

“We’ve educated everybody when you get into these types of games, whatever the unique part of the game is, you make sure you’re educating your players, and we’ll do that. Ultimately, these guys know their bodies.”

Stefanski has played in at least one game this cold — a 10-9 Seahawks victory over the Vikings in an NFC wild card game on Jan. 10, 2016. More than 50,000 fans braved the cold at TFC Bank Stadium, with a kickoff temperature of minus 6 and wind chills of minus 25. It was the coldest game in Vikings history, and tied for the third-coldest playoff game in NFL history.

“It was all good until my eyelashes froze,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said after that game. “Then you kind of realize it might be kind of cold out here. I went out to warm up before everyone came out and took a seat. My contact lenses almost froze over. You can’t ever prepare for that kind of weather or that kind of cold because it’s like sitting in the freezer.”

But Stefanski has downplayed the weather all week. The Browns still have a 1% chance to make the playoffs, and they plan to leave it all on the field. The 5-9 Saints have about a 2% chance to make the playoffs. They’re in a three-way tie with the Panthers and Falcons, just a game behind the 6-8 Bucs.

“Again, this is the great part of our league is that you have games that you get to play in different conditions,” Stefanski said. “Sometimes you play and it’s really hot. Sometimes you play and it’s windy and it’s really cold or whatever it is. The truth of the matter is the conditions will be the exact same for both teams so it will be about who executes and who does their job.”

The Saints flew to Cleveland on Thursday after practicing in New Orleans to beat the storm, and conducted a walk-through in the ballroom of their downtown hotel on Friday. They stayed inside all day Friday, but enjoyed the frosty views of Lake Erie and the whipping snow from their hotel.

With most flights into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport canceled on Friday, most of the reporters who cover the Saints were stuck in New Orleans and won’t be covering the game in person.

The only one who made the trip is Ricardo LeCompte, sports anchor and reporter for WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate in New Orleans. But LeCompte had a head start. His fiance, Jen Hannon, is from Wellington, Ohio, and they headed here last week for their Christmas vacation. LeCompte told cleveland.com he thinks that he and the Saints’ team reporter, Erin Summers, will be the only two local Saints reporters in the postgame press conferences.

“It may be kind of interesting,” LeCompte said. “I hope I don’t forget an important point.”

LeCompte, from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., will do some postgame video reports from the field, but shoveled snow in Wellington on Friday and got a feel for what it will be like.

“I think I’m ready,” he said.

So are some of the Saints players.

“I can’t wait,” offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton told Saints reporters. “I’m super excited for this game. I’ve never played in the snow or that cold.”

Added offensive lineman James Hurst: “Really, you’re talking about below 20 degrees. It’s like, what does it matter? You’re freezing cold. It’s all the same. It’s just a number at this point.”

The Browns are hoping that number after the game is 7 — not the temp but their victories.

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