By now I would imagine there aren’t many sports fans in the country who haven’t seen the clip of SEC official Wilbur Hackett giving a forearm shiver to Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia (video). I think it was just an instinctive move by Hackett, but I have to say it could easily be interpreted as being intentional (and has been by a lot of message board posters).
I didn’t know the identity of the umpire, and so out of curiosity I looked him up. It turns out that Hackett is a veteran SEC official, and he has an interesting personal history. If you thought he looked like a linebacker on that play, well, maybe it’s because he was a linebacker — for Kentucky, in the 1960s. Hackett was one of the first black football players in the SEC.
While researching this, I discovered an old article from the Los Angeles Times about the integration of the Kentucky football program. It recounts a tragic death that I had never read about before, and includes comments from Hackett and longtime Atlanta Falcons center Jeff Van Note, as well as an anecdote illustrating the coolness of Archie Manning. It’s worth a read: