Sea Isle Polar Bear Plunge 2012: Yes, We Jumped in the Ocean

Sea Isle Polar Bear Plunge 2012: Yes, We Jumped in the Ocean

The premise is fairly simple: go to the shore in the heart of winter and jump in the freezing ocean.

As I learned on Saturday at the 2012 Polar Bear Plunge in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, getting zig-zag-walking wasted also seems to be a common activity of participants in the yearly ritual.

Now, first let me say that before I write about what a shitshow our day was, we also saw some really cute/awesome kids who looked to be about 5 years old run into the ocean with their dad. So at least parts of the plunge could be family friendly. But that warm and fuzzy feeling didn't last very long.

Here are the most memorable anecdotes from my experience of jumping into the ocean on Saturday and hanging out with a bunch of lunatics all day in Sea Isle.

This was our first Polar Bear Plunge. My older cousin has had it on his bucket list forever and for whatever reason he rounded up a bunch of us this year to drive down to Sea Isle early Saturday morning. I wasn't amped about the idea initially, but what the hell, right?

There's a whole formal event with costume contests and even an organized walk on Sunday to raise money for charity, but being noobs we were just there to do two things: drink some beer and jump in the ocean so we'd have a story to tell.

The most memorable moment of the day could have happened before we even arrived at the plunge site located around the 40th Street promenade. Parking is pretty tough in the hours leading up to the 2:00 p.m. jump off, so we had to park about 15 blocks away and take a nice walk on a beautiful day.

Once we were about 5 blocks from the event, we heard a burly man hanging over a deck balcony with a red solo cup in his hand screaming into his cell phone.

"I can't walk up there. I'm too drunk!"

This was shortly after 12:00 noon and hours before the plunge was even set to start. It pretty much a perfect summation of the day.

Prior to jumping into the ocean with temperatures in the low 40s, you want to get your body nice and warm. My preferred method of choice was a couple of Yuenglings and a shot of tequila at the Ocean Drive (The OD), a bar resembling a football field's worth of a basement. The plan worked like a charm as my experience of jumping into frigid water proved to be rather fun and enjoyable.

I will admit, however, to standing on the beach surrounded by what seemed like tens of thousands of people, wondering to myself what exactly in the hell were we doing there. (As for the actual attendance, we have no idea, but the guy at the registration booth told us that they had already given out the 4,000 t-shirts they ordered so were were out of luck there.)

Some people hesitated, dilly-dallying, etc. But it seems like you just have to pull the band aid off and go right for the full submersion. It was cold but it wasn't nearly as cold as I'd thought it would be. We were treated to one of the warmer February days at the shore in ages. I hung out in the water for a good 30-45 seconds before heading back in. The view from the water of the throngs of people on the beach was wild.

After jumping in the water and doing a quick switch out of wet clothes into something fashionable like sweatpants, we hit up the OD for some celebrating. Being first timers, we weren't sure what kind of scene to expect at a bar 2 blocks off the beach in February. So after a few celebratory beers, we headed back to our hotel to clean up and put on something that would impress the classy women of Sea Isle. The problem with this plan was that when we returned to the bars around 6:00-6:30 p.m. it was like a zombie convention. It appeared as if nobody else had taken a quick "break" to shower up and get their act together before a long night.

Our first stop was the Springfield Inn and I can 100% assuredly say I've never seen a place full of so many sloppy drunk people. The guy who checked our IDs at the door told us they were closing at 8:00 p.m. which made no sense to us at all? But after about five minutes in the joint it was pretty clear why they wanted to close so early on such a busy day for them. The place was a madhouse.

We didn't think there was any way to catch up with these people. A couple of guys in bathrobes were working the dance floor pretty hard before a guy who could only be described as a 300-pound man you'd see tripping his face off at a Grateful Dead concert tried to steal the show.

The crowning event of the evening was, however, a bar-clearing brawl started over an argument about very important things. The thing about the brawl that was so damn entertaining was the fact that there were only about seven or eight bouncers while there were about fifteen or so combatants. It wasn't one of those throw a couple punches and dudes get separated type fights, punches were thrown, people were tossed, bouncers were in headlocks, more punches were thrown, shirts were pulled off. It was nuts.

We were also treated to the rare sight of seeing a guy's head used to open a couple of doors while in mid-headlock on his way of getting kicked out. You've always got to respect a bouncer who takes his cues from Robert De Niro in Casino.

This all went down at some point around 7:00 p.m. We probably hit up four or five more bars, drank for another five or six hours, and woke up on Sunday feeling like we'd just finished competing in an Iron Man competition.

But we all had our wallets. Only one of us lost a credit card and only one lost a cellphone. Pretty good Sunday breakfast at Uncle Bill's Pancake House and that's a weekend at the shore for you.

Hopefully it's like 20 degrees colder next year.


Here's a 360 panorama I took while in the ocean. Click to scroll:

And here's high-quality footage of us jumping in the ocean. Video by Going to the Shore:

Eagles-Vikings 5 things: Game much bigger than Sam Bradford's return

Eagles-Vikings 5 things: Game much bigger than Sam Bradford's return

Eagles vs. Vikings
1 p.m. on FOX

Eagles +3

A familiar face comes to town on Sunday when the Eagles host the Vikings, the NFL's last unbeaten team at 5-0.

There's more to this matchup than a certain jilted quarterback returning to Lincoln Financial Field though. After an inspired 3-0 start, the Eagles have come out flat in two consecutive games, both losses. If this squad has any hope of getting back on track in Week 7, they can't afford to focus on the high-profile former teammate in purple sleeves.

Grinding it out
How good is the Vikings' defense? Even though they're ranked fourth in the league against the run and eighth in yards per carry allowed, they've faced the second-highest number of rushing attempts. Simply put, between a fierce pass-rush and ball-hawking secondary, offenses are afraid to put the ball in the air against this team.

Opponents have decided the best way to beat the Minnesota defense is by keeping the ball on the ground — shorten the game, try to create manageable third downs and play the field position game. Of course, the best way for the Eagles to beat Washington's 28th-ranked run defense last week, with a fifth-round rookie right tackle making his first career start mind you, also would've been to hand the ball off early and often, which wasn't exactly the game plan that we saw.

As good as Carson Wentz is, the Eagles probably aren't going to beat this team by airing the ball out. It may be inefficient and look ugly, but this time, head coach Doug Pederson needs to lean on the ground attack and take the pressure off of his first-year quarterback and tackle. Otherwise, a Vikings defense that ranks third in the NFL in sacks and fourth in interceptions can take this game over.

Self-inflicted wounds
Ticky-tack calls or not, you can't blame the judgment of the officials for all of the penalties the Eagles have taken the past two weeks. Last week in Washington, they drew 13 flags for 114 yards. The week before, it was 14 flags for 111 yards. Is it really any coincidence in two losses the Eagles have been penalized 27 times for 225 yards? Unlikely.

Were one or two or even a handful of those calls excessive? Have officials missed some potential calls that could have gone the other way? Yes and yes, as is always the case. When it's that many penalties for that many yards though, you can only place so much blame on the refs.

Simply put, the players need to clean up their acts. According to, the Eagles are committing the most penalties per game at 9.8. Only one other team is above 9.0. All excuses aside, the Eagles lack discipline right now, and it's hard to beat anybody when they are continuously shooting themselves in the foot, let alone the only undefeated squad in football.

No gimmes
There is no bigger indicator of winning and losing in the NFL than turnovers. So what happens when the two teams who cough the ball up the least are going head-to-head?

One thing the Eagles did correct in Washington was the little giveaway problem that cost them the game in Detroit. After losing their first fumble and throwing their first interception of the season in the final three minutes of their loss at Detroit, the offense went back to playing turnover-free football on Sunday, one of the positive things that could be said for the performance.

Yet the only team that's committed fewer turnovers than the Eagles is the Vikings, who have just one through five games. The ball security these clubs have displayed is remarkable bordering on unheard of. So what happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? The first one to blink, or in this case make a mistake, might just cost themselves the game in what could be a tightly contested tilt.

Just a pit stop
If it feels like the Eagles' 34-3 romp of the Steelers at the Linc was a long time ago, well, it has been almost a month. Since then, there's been a bye week followed by trips to Detroit and Washington, putting the last home game at exactly four weeks ago.

Don't get used to the feeling either. After their game against the Vikings on Sunday, the Eagles go back on the road for two contests against the division rival Cowboys and Giants.

What does it all mean? Besides a travel-heavy stretch, it suggests this sandwich game with the Vikings is an especially significant spot on the Eagles' schedule, particularly given the slow starts they've jumped out to as the visiting team of late. That can't be blamed entirely on going on the road of course, but it certainly hasn't helped. Vikings or not, the Eagles could use a positive showing on Sunday before they go away again.

The Bradford Bowl
You didn't really think we were going to completely gloss over Sam Bradford, did you? Not even mention his name?

It's interesting, because right now, the trade that sent Bradford to the Vikings and cleared the way for Wentz to start at quarterback for the Eagles looks like a win-win. Both head coaches agreed with that sentiment as well. Mike Zimmer says Bradford gave the Vikings an energy back after starter Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with an improbable injury, while despite coming back down to earth a bit the last two weeks, it's obvious the Eagles' future is bright with Wentz.

That being said, there are some additional bragging rights at stake for both signal-callers this week, whether they acknowledge it or not. If the Eagles win, it shows their gamble on Wentz being prepared to start right away was justified. If the Vikings win, pundits could argue the Eagles never should've traded Bradford in the first place.

These are only narratives of course, and the Eagles' investment in Wentz and the Vikings' desperation trade for Bradford are both left to be judged somewhere down the road, long after this game has been played. Nonetheless, the result on Sunday is sure to spark some interesting debate in the coming days.

Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21

Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21


STATE COLLEGE – As his team slogged through back-to-back 7-6 seasons in his first two years as Penn State’s head coach, Langhorne native James Franklin heard time and again that he was in need of a signature victory.

Now he has one, even if he refuses to admit it.

Junior cornerback Grant Haley returned a blocked field goal 60 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:27 left as the Nittany Lions stunned second-ranked Ohio State 24-21 on Saturday night.

“That’s for you (media) guys, all that signature stuff,” Franklin said.

Not exactly.

“It’s just a game that put Penn State back on the map,” Haley said. “We needed that signature win, and we did it tonight.”

The fans stormed the field after the Lions, 5-2 after their third straight victory this season, beat a ranked team for the first time since 2013 (Wisconsin). It was also PSU’s first victory over a team ranked in the top five since 1999 (Arizona) and its first over a team slotted as high as No. 2 since 1990 (Notre Dame).

Ohio State (7-1) saw winning streaks of 20 straight road games and 17 straight Big Ten road games come to an end, despite building a 21-7 lead through three quarters.

The Lions whisked 90 yards in five plays to cut the gap to seven with 13:32 left in the game, with quarterback Trace McSorley running two yards for the TD.

Freshman linebacker Cam Brown then blocked Cameron Johnston’s punt to set up a 34-yard field goal by Tyler Davis with 9:33 remaining, making it 21-17.

Ohio State mounted a drive behind J.T. Barrett, their splendid quarterback, moving from its own 13 to the PSU 28. Barrett’s 34-yard connection with wide receiver Noah Brown was the big play.

But the Buckeyes stalled, and Tyler Durbin came on to attempt a 45-yard field goal. Penn State safety Marcus Allen made a leaping block, however, and Haley scooped up the bouncing ball and beat Durbin and Johnston, the holder, down the left sideline for the go-ahead score.

Ohio State’s final drive of the night ended with a pair of Penn State sacks, the last a combined effort by defensive linemen Kevin Givens and Evan Schwan with 1:02 left.

When the final gun sounded, several Penn State players sprinted toward the south end zone and launched themselves into the front row of the stands, Lambeau Leap-style, among the delirious students. And thousands of fans, all clad in white for PSU’s traditional White Out, flooded the field.

“This is for everybody,” Franklin said later. “This community’s been through so much in the last five years (a reference to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and its aftermath), and this is a big step in the right direction, in terms of healing. I said very, very early on that for us to get where we want to be, we need this entire community together, and a win like tonight – I know I’m biased – but I believe that football has the ability to bring a community together like nothing else.”

Moments later, he caught himself and said he “didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the big picture.”

Rather, he added, “I just want to enjoy tonight.”