Commentary

Role players

It's not just NFL players who go to work every Sunday

Updated: November 17, 2011, 1:13 PM ET
By Carmen R. Thompson and Amy Parlapiano | ESPN The Magazine

This photo essay appears in the Nov. 28 "One Day, One Game" issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Texans Unsung HeroesNathaniel Welch for ESPN The Magazine

Lizzie Revels, elevator operator: I arrive at 6:15 a.m., and soon I'm checking everyone's credentials. I mean everyone's. I can't remember all the names. But they all know me.

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Lou Cappi, TV timeout guy: TV gets five timeouts per quarter. When my hands are crossed, officials know to take one of them. As soon as my friends at the game see me do that, they run to the restroom.

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Samantha Barnes, photo vest collector: I just got my journalism degree. I hand out media vests for field access: video gets black; photography, tan; Texans staff, green. I network at the same time.

Texans Unsung HeroesNathaniel Welch for ESPN The Magazine

Sgt. Stanley Tucker, color guard: I've been in the Army 10 years, deployed twice. I've been on color guard for two years. When you're at the game, you realize you're serving a whole country. That feels good.

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Steven Wiley, sound guy: I've got it better than camera guys. The mic lets me see the field, so I can move fast. You look at players and think, Your arm is bigger than my leg. That's just wrong.

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Michelle and Rachel Lewis, cheerleaders: We decided to try out this year as twins, which meant that either both of us would make it or neither of us would. That's the Texans' rule.

Texans Unsung Heroes Nathaniel Welch for ESPN The Magazine

Ryan Huntsman, ball boy: I've been here eight years, so you build relationships. I just had a baby, and our former kicker recommended a pediatrician for me.

Texans Unsung Heroes Nathaniel Welch for ESPN The Magazine

Todd Urbanek, friend of Texans fullback James Casey and Casey's son, Cannon: I painted the mask and carved the horns. The plan is to add a bull snout and put dry ice inside so smoke is coming out of the nostrils.

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Ramon Camareno Jr., custodian: It's always the popcorn spills. There's popcorn all over the floor all the time.

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Earl Lloyd, beer vendor: I started back in the Astrodome. My famous slogan was, "Coldest foam in the dome!" After 20 years, I don't have to do much selling -- my regulars yell out, "Hey Earl, is that the foam from the dome?"

Texans Unsung Heroes Nathaniel Welch for ESPN The Magazine

William Yates and Raul Escobedo Jr., keg experts: Yates: Each keg weighs 160 pounds. We carry two on our dolly and lift the kegs as a team. Escobedo: Customers get impatient waiting a long time for their beer.

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Brett Tatum, police officer: I've been doing this eight years, and my main function is handling visiting-team security. Sometimes the teams bring guests. I've met Mean Joe Greene, Jim Brown and Joe Namath. It's just amazing.

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Erin, bomb-sniffing dog, and handler Tim Lee: We start at 7 and check the buses at the hotel and the stadium. Erin is 3, but she's well-trained. She won't bite.

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John Bruno, cameraman, CBS Sports: A guy carries a 500-foot cable for me. I sprinted to the end zone once for a shot, but he didn't trail. A ref got tangled in the cable. He wasn't happy.

Texans Unsung HeroesNathaniel Welch for ESPN The Magazine

Wahnetta Mitchell, receptionist: I'm 87, the oldest one here. A fan once called to ask whether the roof would be open. I said I'd ask and call him back. He said, "Yeah, right." He was so grateful I did, he called my boss.

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Darius Harris, Texas Southern University marching band: A drum major is the first person the crowd sees at the half. I have to be fierce. It gets everybody pumped.

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