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Original Issue

Zebra Crossing

Some refs can't help getting in the game

The old saw is that a perfect game for an official is one nobody knows he worked. By that standard the SEC's Wilbur Hackett Jr. had a rough one on Oct. 18 (page 27). Hackett, 59, the umpire in LSU's win over South Carolina, inexplicably leveled Gamecocks QB Stephen Garcia late in the first half. The play has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, but it was no harm, no foul: The SEC ruled that the contact was inadvertent, and South Carolina scored a TD later on the drive. Hackett isn't the first official to get a little too involved in the action:

Gerry Davis Trailing the Indians 4-2 in September, the Red Sox have runners on first and second with two outs when Jeff Bailey scorches one toward leftfield. It looks to be a sure two-run double, but the ball strikes third base ump Davis (right) in the thigh. Both runners stop at third, and lead runner Jason Bay is tagged out in a rundown. The Red Sox lose 4-3. "You see something new on the field every day," says Bay. "That certainly ranks up there as one of them."

Bill McCreary In Columbus last February the Blue Jackets' Rick Nash streaks into the Capitals' zone with one man to beat, Washington's Shaone Morrisonn. That obstacle disappears when Morrisonn skates into veteran NHL ref McCreary (left, with Nash); they fall to the ice, and Nash breezes in for an easy goal. "I'm just glad it wasn't the deciding factor," says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team wins 4-3. "[McCreary] would have felt like crap."

Phil Luckett In 2001 against the Panthers, the Saints run a flea-flicker. A wide-open Joe Horn slips behind the Carolina secondary, looks back for an apparent scoring pass--and plows into Luckett (right), the back judge. The collision costs the Saints a TD, but luckily for Luckett, they win the game. "I thought it was another defensive back until I saw the official rolling around," Horn says. "If I would have seen him, I probably would have stiff-armed him."

Stephen Walkom After an empty-net goal by the Hurricanes in 2001, disgusted Penguins winger Alexei Kovalev fires the puck toward center ice--where it hits the backside of the referee. Kovalev, who earlier barked at Walkom for not calling a penalty when he was tripped, insists he wasn't aiming at the zebra. The NHL doesn't buy it, saying Kovalev violated its rule against physical abuse of officials, which triggers a three-game suspension.

John Coyle With Mike Tyson pounding Lou Savarese in the first round of their 2000 bout, Coyle tries to stop the fight. But Tyson flails away, and Coyle (left) hits the canvas when Iron Mike catches him with a left. "I didn't take a full shot," Coyle says. "If I had, I would still be in hospital." Since he has already stopped the fight, Coyle can't disqualify Tyson. "[He] just wanted to keep fighting," Coyle says. "It was quite strange."