On June 20, I made my way down to Capital One Arena as a fully credentialed journalist to cover the Washington Valor. As I arrived through the media entrance and made my way to the press box, the goosebumps set in and I knew it was time to put the journalist cap on.
It felt weird not cheering on my Valor that night but, as my high school journalism teacher Mr. Nicholas Confino taught me, ethical journalism is EVERYTHING. It was a special matchup, as the world champion Washington Valor faced off against their bitter rival the Baltimore Brigade–also owned by Ted Leonsis in the I-270 Arena Football League showdown.
There was no love lost, to say the least.
The Valor opened up the scoring as QB Arvell Nelson threw a dart to wide receiver Reggie Gray on the first possession of the game. Nelson was easily the MVP of the game and racked up five total touchdowns on the night, four of them rushing. After the first possession, it was a shootout as each team traded touchdowns.
The Brigade held the special team’s advantage throughout the game as Brigade receiver Joe Powell took a kickoff to the house to tie the game at 14 in the second quarter. But the most significant special team’s play came at the end of the game, a play I can only describe as one of the craziest sports plays I’ve ever seen.
With little time left in the fourth quarter, the Valor attempted a field goal. The attempt hit off the crossbar and was bobbled several times, but Valor wideout Josh Reese scooped it u and ran for a game-winning touchdown. The crowd of hundreds went wild and Capital One Arena felt more electric than Coachella.
I would be remiss to write this blog and not give a shoutout to the Gruden-grinder of the century James Gordon. Gordon not only starts at linebacker but also plays fullback on goal line plays and is their long snapper. That’s grit right there. Another final game note; I’m fairly sure that every rushing play of the game took place right on the goal line. No wonder a Gruden thrived so well in this league.
The Valor continue their championship tour as they take on the Atlantic City Blackjacks June 29.