Not sure how I never saw or heard of what happened at the 1977 NFC Championship game seeing as how I specialize in the craziest of the crazy happening off the field. Weird that some Boomer didn’t step forward over the years and drop a “Yeah, but do you even remember the ’77 NFC title game? Probably not junior,” dig at me. Turns out a guy wearing a snowman costume got too close to a vendor selling hot chocolate and the vendor’s Sterno lit the costume on fire, sending Daniel Yoder into a flaming ball running through the stands.
Thanks to the University of North Texas, we can watch footage from KXAS-TV in Fort Worth that shows Yoder flaming and freaking out as the game goes on. It’s one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen in the stands at a sporting event over more than a decade. It’s right up there with Bills fan falling out of the stands.
Yoder survived and A Cowboy Life podcast posted an interview with Yoder earlier this month where he describes the day and circumstances surrounding it including how he came to be in a snow man costume. It’s pretty wild how it all came together and how he ended up on fire.
Dan says a high school girl working as a vendor was holding the Sterno and looked to see him in the costume. She spilled the Sterno on him and he’s engulfed in flames. The full story is one for the ages. Dan says everything healed back up besides where the zippers burnt him.
Yoder suffered second degree burns from the flaming snowman costume as told by the NY Times on Jan. 3, 1978:
In fact, the most anxious moments for some persons in the chilled crowd of 61,968 in Texas Stadium came when a man almost• burned to death after his furry snowman’s costume brushed against a flaming can of Sterno liquid.and caught fire.
The victim, 24‐year‐old Daniel Yoder of Dallas, suffered second‐degree burns on his neck and legs and was saved by a Vietnam veteran, Clarence Walters of Dallas, who threw his •fur• coat over the costume. Yoder, who is listed in fair condition in Parkland. Hospital, rented. the :suit for a costume party and wore it to the game as a ‐joke. The Sterno was being carried by stadium vendor who was selling hot chocolate.
“There’s only one thing I regret and that’s losing my coat,” said Walters. “If only Tex Schramm [the Cowboys’ president] would buy me a new ‘coat with a nice, fur collar, that would make it a great Super Bowl New Yew’ for me.”