Thank you Bismarck Bucks
With recent news of the Bismarck Bucks going on hiatus, there is a myriad of feelings that run through my slightly depressed mind. But after thinking of all the negative implications of such a beloved team and organization not playing in '23, I'm left with more happy memories than I can count.
The sudden demise of the Alliance of American Football (AAF), left my heart empty for football that wasn't the corrupt (my opinion) NFL. In my search to ease my sorrow, I stumbled upon a Bismarck Bucks game, where they were getting beat fairly soundly by the Sioux Falls Storm. But, they never would give up. Their resilience impressed me as they continued to grind and earn every yard in that arena. A drunk fan was often heard calling out above the rest of the crowd. Mike Tatum would make a play and the arena would ring with blissful excitement. Kids would dance and smile, often jumping up and down. The BEK broadcast was even well done, with the score, down and distance, and time remaining on the bottom ticker. It wasn't as elegant as the NFL, but it was professional. The talent astounded me on both sides of the ball. And me? I was hooked on the Bismarck Bucks when I found out they were 1-10 at the time and would never let up. Two weeks later, they'd upset the Quad City Steamwheelers who were contending for a playoff spot. They just wouldn't go away.
The Bismarck Bucks finished the season with a dismal 2-14 record in their first IFL season, but their following season, they only had one loss....consequently that was the only game they played due to Covid, but I was still impressed with how they played. The excitement was there, and the fans were loving it. The new-look San Diego Strike Force had come to town, and a noisy, passionate group of fans called the Horny Bucks would blow those hunter orange horns with enthusiasm. I cheered aloud on Eric Lauderdale's first TD catch. I also cheered when Strike Force Nathaniel Chavious took a swing pass to the house. I kept wanting to get into Taz Wilson's head to remind him not to overthrow Ryan Feiss (after it happened 5 times in the endzone). And rarely have I ever cheered as loud as the time when Zuril Hendrick broke the record for the longest Bucks touchdown, returning a missed field goal, breaking 4 tackles along the way and doing an elegant dive into the end zone for the Bismarck lead. BEK did a slow motion replay of his dive that looked like an elegant deer bouncing over a fence with a regal posture that resembled the finest British royalty, and, in the background, a congregation of fans religiously lifting their arms in praise. It was sacred! Watching on my 15" YouTube monitor, I felt the energy from the Bismarck Event Center 900 miles away! It was electrifying entertainment at it's finest. The Bucks would fall to a great San Diego squad 50-36.
Then, last year, they showed promise winning 3 of their first 5 games and putting up 76 points on the road in San Jose! Something happened after that, that I've never been able to pinpoint. The Bismarck Bucks would find a way to lose their final 11 games--some of them absolute nail biters. And while I have no actual favorite team, the Bismarck Bucks re-introduced me to Indoor Football and brought the second love of my life back to me. That's why, every night, I put on the beautiful antler-enshrined "B" shirt on as I sleep. I hope and pray that this isn't the end for the Bismarck Bucks. I hope and pray that mandatory Workers Comp. stipulations with WSI go to the hell that they came from and ease the burden of this amazing North Dakota team. Whether the Bucks ever come back or not, I just want to say...."Thank you! Thank you so much for the happiness you've brought to my life, and bringing this sport back into my heart. Thank you, my dear, Bismarck Bucks."
By Ducon Williams