Later, Butler was told that the man she had turned away was Young. "Oh," she said, "I thought he was the janitor."
Since releasing tight end Jimmie Giles three weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Bucs have had a hard time keeping a replacement healthy. The Bucs signed free agent Chris Faulkner. In his first practice Faulkner tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Next up was Jeff Spek, who was signed on Oct. 31. He must have thought he was a fortunate man—until he suffered a partial tear of his left knee's anterior cruciate ligament while covering a punt return in only his second game. (Jerry Bell, yet another Buc tight end, fractured his right ankle Sunday and is out for the season.)
Last Wednesday, Spek found himself undergoing arthroscopic surgery in a Tampa hospital. The only familiar face belonged to his wife, Melissa.
"There was a tremendous feeling of isolation, as if I was in a foreign land," says Spek, who will be sidelined the rest of the season. "Football toughens you up. You learn early not to depend on anybody else for support, only to depend on those closest to you. My wife is the only one who really knew how I felt."
Every week, the tattered business suit would turn up at Rayson Sports, on top of the heap of uniforms in the Chicago Bears' laundry bag. And every week, Rosie Ficarelli would have to add another patch. "I spent three hours each week with that suit," she says. "I finally went to Mr. Rayson and asked him, 'Why doesn't this gentleman get a new suit?' "
The navy blue suit belonged to Papa Bear George Halas. "It was his lucky suit," Rosie says. "How was I to know?"
Rayson Sports has cleaned and mended uniforms for almost all of the Chicago-area sports teams—professional, college and high school levels—since 1938. Rosie, who is 93 years old, has been a fixture at Rayson Sports for 46 years. So has her single-needle Union Special sewing machine. "It has never been repaired," she boasts. "I baby it. Oil it up good."
Early Monday morning the Bears' uniforms arrive with instructions for mending, alterations, applying numbers or nameplates. Dennis Gentry wants his pants shortened; Matt Suhey forever needs his jersey taken in an inch or so.
Though Rosie has severe arthritis in her hands, she has never failed to meet her Wednesday afternoon deadlines, even if it means working until midnight. "It's rush, rush, rush," says Rosie, who pins good-luck notes inside the jerseys of her favorite Bears, including Walter Payton's.