NFL -- Lightning Ends Exhibition Early -- Kansas City Given Victory When Game Stops In 3Rd Quarter
CHICAGO - Bad weather is part of Chicago and part of NFL lore. Always has been, always will be.
But when lightning threatened fans and players last night at Soldier Field, it was time to go home.
The drenched fans who were still around headed for the exits, the blimp landed, and the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears went to their locker rooms.
A rarity - an NFL game, even an exhibition, being canceled because of a storm.
"The lightning could strike anywhere, and we're all standing around out there in the puddles," Bear tackle James Williams said. "You never know what could happen."
The game was called with 4:20 left in the third quarter. Kansas City led 14-10 and was declared the winner.
"If you make a mistake and there is a tragedy, you cannot go back and say I am sorry. . . . It was in the best interest of everyone concerned that we conclude the game," Kansas City Coach Marty Schottenheimer said.
Soldier Field, across the street from Lake Michigan, has had its share of bizarre-weather games. This was not the first one wiped out.
In 1976, what turned out to be the last of 42 College All-Star Games was called because of a thunderstorm with Pittsburgh leading 24-0.
In 1994, the Bears and Green Bay Packers played in a driving Halloween rainstorm. The game went on in gale-force wind.
And there was the 1988 "Fog Bowl" playoff game between Philadelphia and Bears, when visibility became so limited it was
difficult to see players.
The storm last night began at halftime and pounded the lakefront for a half-hour before the game was stopped. Players slipped and fell on the soggy field while thunder rolled.
"Let's not get anybody killed," Kansas City President Carl Peterson said in the press box as he discussed the situation with Bear President Mike McCaskey and Jerry Seeman, the NFL director of officials.
"I'm glad they called it," Chicago quarterback Erik Kramer said. "The last thing I wanted to do was get lit up tonight."
Kansas City finished with a 3-1 exhibition record, the Bears 1-3.
-- Placekicker Kevin Butler, the lone remaining player from the Chicago Bears' only Super Bowl team, was among seven players waived today.
Butler, an 11-year veteran, holds 19 Bears records and is the 19th leading scorer in NFL history with 1,116 points. He is fifth among active players. But Butler, 34, lost a training-camp battle with Carlos Huerta, who kicked the past two seasons in the Canadian Football League.
-- Chicago's Rashaan Salaam, the 1994 Heisman Trophy winner who rushed for 1,000 yards as a rookie last season, hurt his right leg in the first quarter against Kansas City and was scheduled for an MRI today. The injury initially was described as a hamstring problem.
-- Carolina rookie running back Tim Biakabutuka, who ended his holdout last week, is expected to see his first game action tonight against the New York Giants. The Panthers opened a roster spot for their first-round draft pick by waiving wide receiver Reggie Jones.
-- Philadelphia signed quarterback T.J. Rubley and guard Guy McIntyre and waived running back Vaughn Hebron.
-- Cincinnati linebacker Andre Collins ended his holdout.
-- Miami signed tight end Brett Carolan, who played mainly on special teams with San Francisco the past two years.
-- Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre is negotiating a contract extension that would require him to forfeit money if he violates the NFL's substance-abuse policy, his agent said.
"The team would like to have some protection. That's understandable, and Brett has no problem with that," attorney James "Bus" Cook said.
Favre, in the third year of a five-year, $19 million contract, entered the NFL's substance-abuse program in May to be treated for addiction to painkillers.
-- Al LoCasale, an executive assistant with the Raiders since 1969, remained hospitalized in Los Angeles six days after undergoing four-way bypass surgery.
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