When sideline heaters are being used to thaw water bottles, you know it’s cold

This weekend marked the beginning of a funny ritual in the NFL.

When the calendar gets to December, players will go out in short sleeves in below-zero temperatures and tell everyone who will listen they're not cold and they're not intimidated by the weather, like everyone will be fooled into thinking that minus-12 wind chill isn't cold.

It's cold. We all know. And it makes playing football very difficult.

At kickoff of Monday night's game in Chicago, the temperature was 9 degrees with a wind chill of minus-8. It got so cold that ESPN found equipment managers holding water bottles up to the sideline heaters because the water inside was freezing up. During one timeout, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo didn't stop to talk to the coaches, he went right to the heater, pushing teammates out of the way like George Costanza fleeing a fire.

Monday night was the second-coldest game in Cowboys history. The coldest, obviously, was the "Ice Bowl," the NFL championship game at the end of the 1967 season at Lambeau Field. Monday was the coldest Bears home game this season, and pretty close to the coldest Bears home game ever. That record is 2 degrees, set for a Dec. 22, 2008 game against the Packers.

But did that matter to either team? No way!

"I don’t think the weather was too much of a factor," Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant said.

"I don’t know what the weather was to be honest," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "The field was good. It was cold, but it seemed like everyone handled the ball pretty well."

"Other than not being able to feel my toes, that’s about it for me," Bears quarterback Josh McCown said, when asked if he was affected. "Little windy at times, but we did a good job."

Sure, fellas. At least Bears tight end Martellus Bennett was honest, saying "I just felt like a popsicle the whole time." That we can believe.

There will be plenty of games like this over the next couple months in the NFL, maybe even the Super Bowl in New Jersey. The frozen ball will feel like a rock, it'll be hard to run on a field that feels like a skating rink and even the water for the players on the sideline won't be safe.

Players will be miserable out of the field for three hours, playing in conditions that aren't conducive to showing off their elite athleticism. But they'll say it felt just great out there.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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