Unlike their NFL colleagues, officials in the Canadian Football League don't have to worry about instant replay second-guessing them. Still, they are concerned about errors.
At halftime of the Sept. 27 game between Hamilton and Ottawa, some friends of umpire Bill Wright ventured down to the officials' locker room. They knocked on the door.
"Yeah?" barked someone in reply.
"Ah...is Wright in there?"
"Nobody's right in here, pal."
The Denver Bronco players loved Barney Chavous, their thoughtful, sensitive defensive end from South Carolina. They teased him about his thick southern accent. Defensive line coach Stan Jones made up weekly philosophical sayings for the locker room bulletin board and dubbed them words of wisdom from Barney Chavous.
But last summer head coach Dan Reeves told Chavous that the 35-year-old probably wouldn't make the 45-man roster. So, after 13 seasons and 182 games—more than any other player in Bronco history—Chavous chose to retire rather than be released. He quietly said goodbye to a few close teammates, packed his bags and went home to South Carolina. He hasn't been heard from since.
His former Bronco teammates miss him. Bronco equipment manager Dan Bill took it upon himself to retire Chavous's locker. His nameplate remains taped across the top, and a pair of shoes rests on the floor. "We're keeping it open in remembrance," Bill says. "He's the Duke. We'll keep it like that the rest of the season. We can't have somebody spend 13 years here and just forget about him."
Linebacker Jesse Solomon, the Minnesota Vikings' 12th-round draft pick, the 51st linebacker and the 318th player chosen in '85, is an early-season sensation. He is now the leading tackier on special teams.
What makes Solomon's success story so amazing is his circuitous route to the pros. For starters, he quit the Madison (Fla.) High football team after his junior year. "I was a maverick," he says. "I was independent. I wanted to play by my rules. I used the time off to better myself academically."