Football, fighting and futball
Football, fighting and futball. That was the agenda for Saturday afternoon and evening at the House of Manion.
And for the last day in February, that’s not a bad roster of sports excitement.
Vince McMahon and his XFL brand of football had the Seattle Dragons and their offensive coordinator, former Husker Head Coach Mike Riley, taking on former Husker players on the roster of the St. Louis BattleHawks.
That game was followed quickly by mixed martial arts with Nebraska City’s own Darrick Minner battling in his first ever UFC bout.
And, then, finally, the night concluded with the Major League Soccer premier performance by the Sporting Kansas City against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Starting at the top, the XFL clash was just the second time I have attempted to watch the new league.
My first impression of the brand was not great as I was underwhelmed by the on-field interviews and open microphones which gave in-game strategy details which made little sense to me and added little to the product.
I was bored.
I changed the channel.
But since then, people have been talking on my social media outlets and on my TV and a few times in face-to-face encounters on the street.
The encouragement was there. Try the XFL again. This football is actually pretty good.
With the Husker connections on Saturday, I was a little more engaged, although I would hardly say I was on the edge of my seat with anticipation.
It was just OK.
Former Huskers De'Mornay Pierson-El and Brandon Reilly made plays at the wide receiver position and the Husker players beat the Husker coach, which I was fine with since I am not exactly a huge Riley fan at this point.
Jordan Ta'amu had a few moments at QB for the BattleHawks, but the overall QB play was less than great.
It was football and it was live on my TV almost a month after football usually ends.
I will count it as a win.
Much more exciting was the Minner UFC match up.
It was exciting to hear Bruce Buffer’s introduction of, “FIGHTING out of NEBRASKA CITY, Nebraska.
A lot of people swelled with pride at this call. Minner has worked exceptionally hard since the days when I covered his wrestling at the high school. His gym has a great following. And he’s a guy that just never quits.
Love that about the dude.
On Saturday, Minner went right after his opponent, a guy that I am not even going to name in this column simply because he showed low class and no respect for our guy.
Before the fight, the guy said that Minner did not belong and that he was going to show him that the UFC was a whole new level.
Minner’s opponent expected a furious start and got one, but he indicated in pre-fight that he was going to dominate Minner from there.
I wouldn’t call it dominating.
He almost lost early as Minner went after a guillotine choke. Matter of fact, after the match, he admitted that he was scared of Minner.
Give the other guy credit for the win, but most of us don’t care about that dude anyway.
Minner took the fight on short notice and could have easily gotten the win.
Everyone can see now that Minner, with a full allotment of training, could do very well. He’s a veteran of the sport and belongs in the UFC. Hopefully the next shot comes soon.
Turning the sports focus from the cage to the pitch, Sporting KC got its first win of the season in fine fashion against the Whitecaps by the final of 3-1.
Amadou Dia, the new star forward for Sporting, got the first goal on a fantastic header.
Another newcomer, Gadi Kinda had a very impressive goal as well and Sporting cemented the win with a late goal.
This is my first year of MLS fandom and, got to say, I was not disappointed at all.
As many of you might remember, I was treated to great hospitality late last season and had a chance to cover a Sporting KC match at the team’s home field, Children's Mercy Park.
I had a lot of fun that day, took some cool pictures and enjoyed a 2-1 win by the home side against the San Jose Earthquakes.
It was fun to have a sports fan origin story for the first time since childhood.
Most of my loyalties were cemented early on in my life and I have unique reasons why I am passionate about all my teams, from the Islanders in hockey, to the Cowboys and the Huskers in football, the Braves in baseball and the Lakers in basketball.
The origin story of Sporting KC is that trip to Children’s Mercy Park.
If I have any understanding of soccer, that grasp is vague and refreshing at the same time.
While watching American football, my feeling is that I know something, much more than I actually know mind you, but enough to second guess the coach and the players and the broadcasters.
Because I know so much about what’s going on... not really... I can tend to be pretty miserable in watching, say, the Dallas Cowboys.
Down four points, facing a 4th-and-6 at midfield and having no timeouts with four minutes on the clock and you are going to punt?
Really, Jason Garrett?
With soccer, I don’t notice that stuff, because I can’t notice it.
I enjoy it more because of that.
What does it mean that SKC beat the Whitecaps on Saturday?
I am sure that I don’t know. But I do know that Houston is coming to SKC for a 7 p.m. kick off on Saturday and I am going to be watching.
All in all, Saturday was great for sports and with March Madness right around the corner, its going to get better yet.