Sunday, April 12, 2009
Arena Football, and covering someone I haven't covered in 10 years...
Monday was the opening night of the new arena football team in town, the Ruff Riders. We've been covering the crap out of them, so Monday was no different. I had to work on my day off (horay overtime!). It was interesting covering this to say the least. I had never covered arena football before, and still don't understand a lot of the rules compared to "regular" football.
With this being minor league I was expecting the game to be pretty bad, however, I was pleasantly surprised at how good some of these guys were. Now in no way was it the NFL, but still entertaining nonetheless. There were a lot of players from some major college programs, as well as a few from some of the local programs. It was nice to see, a couple of the local kids I've been covering since high school, the ones who were plenty talented but just a little too short to be recruited to the big programs. Or, played for a school that wasn't "on the radar" so they slipped through the cracks.
The crowds were into it too. Abilene has a history of supporting its minor league teams at the start but they they go away soon. However, there are two things different about the Ruff Riders: 1) This is football, and there's no question West Texas loves football. 2) For the first time beer is being sold at sporting events. Reason two alone may keep the team afloat longer than most.
There was one other major attraction for fans to the Ruff Riders... Quincy Carter. Carter, a former University of Georgia quarterback, whom I covered his freshman year at Georgia 10 years ago is the starting quarterback for the Ruff Riders. Around here though, Carter is better known as the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Abilene is a big Cowboys town, and plenty of people showed up to see Carter and see if he'd still be worthy of the Cowboys job. I'm not sure about that, but he still has a rocket arm and threw for a league high in yardage for the week and scored five touchdowns, four in the air and one rushing.