July 25, 1998 -- Chris Spielman was the major topic of conversation around the Buffalo Bills' training camp on this date, for all the wrong reasons.
The veteran linebacker had announced the day before that he was taking the '98 season off because his wife Stephanie had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Indeed, she had already undergone surgery and started chemotherapy.
The reaction around the team was quick and sympathetic.
"It's a great loss, but the greater loss is his wife coming down with such an illness," cornerback Ken Irvin said. "That's the most important thing, the condition of his wife. His wife needs him, and it's a great thing that he's doing."
"Naturally, we understand Chris' decision," coach Wade Phillips said.
Spielman tried to make a comeback in 1999, but retired after suffering a neck injury. Stephanie died in 2009 after cancer returned for the fifth time.
--- Budd Bailey