The Falcons finished the season 4-12. The offensive line had surrendered 61 sacks of Atlanta quarterbacks. During the campaign, Travis had played through a groin pull, a strained biceps and a sprained knee. In all he had played well enough, however, to receive the Falcons' Rookie of the Year Award from Reeves.
The season did not go well. Travis, who was judged by the Atlanta paper as "not especially nimble," was replaced as a starter late in the season. The paper said he had "disappeared" in terms of effectiveness. The Falcons went 7-9.
The 2002 season began inauspiciously. In training camp, Travis broke a bone in his right wrist and played with a cast the remainder of the year. But he more than held his own as a starting guard on a much improved line. It powered the Falcons to a league ranking of No. 4 in rushing offense and to 10 victories.
In the meantime, Travis' injuries mounted. Knees, shoulders, arms and spine had all been compromised in the endless, close-quarter combat of offensive line play.
At practice in September, at the beginning of the 2003 season, Travis aggravated a strained shoulder, which turned out to be torn. Then in a "Monday Night Football" game against the St. Louis Rams, he tore tissue that connected his right thigh muscle to his knee.
Travis was placed on the injured reserve list and did not play again for the Falcons.
In 2004, Travis' contract was up, and the Falcons did not re-sign him.
"I always played for the organization," he later told a wire service reporter. "I broke my wrist, I played with that. I bruised my spinal cord, I played the next week. I got a concussion, I played through that. I . . . did so thinking when it came time [for a new contract] they'd say, 'This is a guy who is a hard worker and is loyal to this organization,' but obviously it didn't work out that way."
The Carolina Panthers thought he could still start and signed him to a two-year contract for $1.8 million, including a $500,000 signing bonus.
Training camp, however, did not go well. Panthers management found him insufficiently agile. To his astonishment, Travis was cut as camp ended.
He walked away with his $500,000 bonus, and a deeply wounded self-image. Barry, now coaching with the Detroit Lions of the NFL, encouraged him to ask other teams for a tryout.
None, however, was interested.
Being cut was "the most embarrassing thing to happen to me because I've never not started," Travis told the wire service reporter. "All the people who were calling me when I was making big money . . . weren't calling anymore. And when I hurt my knee, no one called except my brother, mom and dad, and two college buddies."
Money was not a problem. Travis had been careful with his. He had rented a house in Las Vegas, where his brother Ryan, three years his junior, played linebacker for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was not one for luxuries.
Travis couldn't abide life without football and in 2005, when the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League offered him a one-year contract at $175,000, he leaped at it.
Travis took instantly to the Canadian game, its informality and the camaraderie of teammates who played for the love of football as much as anything else.
"I'm not making much money now, but I'm staying with some players," Travis told the Canadian Press wire service in September 2005. "I've got a room. They got me a bigger futon because the one I had wasn't big enough."
As No. 57 for the Ti-Cats, Travis won the Canadian sports broadcasting company TSN's "Friday Night Gladiator" award in his first game, against the Edmonton Eskimos. The prize was a Tissot watch. Travis gave it to Bill, who has worn it daily since.