Parks’s Pulse – On last rides, doctor’s orders, and concerts

Danny Etling #8 of the Michigan Panthers attempts a pass against the Houston Roughnecks in the game at Rice Stadium on May 26, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Kevin M. Cox/UFL/Getty Images)
With a cast on his non-throwing hand, Danny Etling #8 of the Michigan Panthers attempts a pass against the Houston Roughnecks in the game at Rice Stadium on May 26, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Kevin M. Cox/UFL/Getty Images)

Each week during the season, Parks’s Pulse presents a smattering of thoughts on the previous weekend’s games.

Ranking the games

  1. Brahmas 18, Stallions 9 – All of a sudden, a San Antonio vs. Birmingham rematch in the UFL Championship looks awfully enticing. Both teams played this with the intensity of a playoff game.
  2. Renegades 36, Battlehawks 22 – Manny Wilkins fell back down to earth against Arlington, tossing three interceptions. Arlington is showing glimpses of what could’ve been here at the end of the season.
  3. Panthers 26, Roughnecks 22 – Houston again just couldn’t hang on. The coaches aren’t doing the players any favors with their decision-making, either. Michigan has some interesting QB decisions to make.
  4. Defenders 36, Showboats 21 – Memphis is the “get right” game for offenses this year. D.C. looked much smoother on that side of the ball.

Free Ahlers

Coming into the season, the Arlington Renegades quarterback room was perhaps the most intriguing in the entire UFL. Last year’s savior, Luis Perez, was firmly entrenched as the starter. And two dynamic rookies, Lindsey Scott, Jr. and Holton Ahlers, were behind him. As the team’s season began circling the drain, the calls for giving more playing time to the youngsters became louder. Yet, through eight weeks, Scott remained the backup and gadget QB, while Ahlers continued to serve as the emergency third QB. That changed in week nine when Ahlers was promoted to second-string. Rather than get a quarter or even a series of his own, though, Ahlers instead filled Scott’s usual role. That amounted to just a few snaps in total. At 2-7 and out of playoff contention, it’s going to be hard to justify not giving an extended look to either Scott or Ahlers – or both – in the final game.

All-access moment of the week, part one

This all-access moment is a little different than others I’ve profiled this year and speaks to the varied ways in which the access networks have on game day can be utilized. During the St. Louis vs. Arlington broadcast, the Renegades ran a trick play called “Sooner pass,” where the team faked a reverse, flipped the ball back to QB Luis Perez, who found TE Sal Cannella for a 46-yard score. Given the name of the play, a reference to head coach Bob Stoops’ previous coaching stop, the announcers wondered if he ever ran it at the University of Oklahoma. Sideline reporter Cole Cubelic checked in with Perez on the sidelines. Perez thought Oklahoma may have run it against Kansas under Stoops. Cubelic then had the opportunity to ask Stoops himself, who said it was actually against Iowa State – and they ran it on the first play of the game. This is an example of the unique insight that players and coaches can give during the games in the UFL.

Latimer’s last ride

During week eight’s San Antonio vs. Arlington game, it was noted that TE Cody Laitmer plans to hang up his cleats at the end of this UFL season. Unfortunately, Latimer’s career may have come to a close prematurely on a hit from Birmingham Stallions S Kenny Robinson this past weekend. Latimer had to be carted off the field. He was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday. A former second round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in the NFL, the 31-year old was reunited with his old Broncos coach, Wade Phillips, in San Antonio this year. Latimer was a bright spot on a bad Orlando Guardians squad in 2023, leading the team in receptions and receiving yardage on his way to being selected for the All-XFL Team. He currently sits second in those same categories with the Brahmas. We’ll see if the way his season finishes – not on his terms, but rather, due to injury – will change Latimer’s mind about retirement.

Doctor’s orders

After missing the previous two games due to injury, QB Danny Etling returned for the Michigan Panthers on Sunday against the Houston Roughnecks. Interviewed on the sidelines before the game, Etling was perhaps a little too revealing in regard to his health status. He noted that his doctor’s clearance appointment is in two weeks, indicating that he hadn’t been cleared to play. It was somewhat of a light moment in part because the injury was relatively minor, to his non-throwing hand. It does, however, raise questions about the UFL’s medical protocol that a player can be active without the clearance of a doctor.

All-access moment of the week, part two

The heat was a story this weekend, affecting players in several of the week nine games. Different positions are hit differently by the weather. The intimate relationship between the center and quarterback, for example, can be influenced by the conditions, and that was the case in Houston. Players were being sponged down because of the heat, and Roughnecks center Jack Kramer wanted this quarterbacks to know he’s not usually that moist south of the border. “I just want you to know my ass is not this wet,” he told QBs Reid Sinnett and Nolan Henderson on the sideline in between drives. “The volunteer trainer just absolutely soaked me with a sponge.” The quarterbacks requested to go to the pistol formation to avoid the contact. “I handed that ball off and am literally dripping from your ass,” said Henderson. Whatever it takes to beat the heat.

Football and a concert

It’s not unusual for teams and venues to pair a sporting event with a concert. It’s a little more unusual when the artist giving the post-game concert is one of the players. Then again, Arlington Renegades P Marquette King isn’t your usual football player. The fun in Arlington didn’t end when the final whistle blew on the Renegades’ 36-22 victory over the St. Louis Battlehawks. King and some of the fans stayed behind for his concert afterward. His appropriately-titled single, “I can kick a ball,” dropped in January of this year. That was one of the songs featured during the performance. A seven-year NFL veteran, King leads the UFL in punting average. You can check out his Instagram page for more information on his music.

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