Marcus Everett rubbed his right arm as he answered questions following the Milwaukee Mustangs 63-40 victory over the Pittsburgh Power Thursday night at the Bradley Center.
The Arena Football League-mandated 10-minute cool down period had passed before Everett met the media following his two-interception performance – one of which he returned for a touchdown – yet that arm was still bright red.
As questions turned to Mustangs coach Bob Landsee and quarterback Gino Guidugli, the 26-year-old wide receiver-linebacker glanced down, flexing his tricep.
Everett earned Ironman of the Game honors for the second straight week for his work on offense and defense. It's something he takes pride in, putting his body on the line every minute of every game – even if the effects are felt long after he takes the pads off.
"My goal was to get Ironman of the Year in the league," he said, hand on that arm. "That's what I came out here to do and that's what I plan on doing. I'm going to keep working hard every week, studying film and making plays."
Everett's passion for the game is matched by his teammates, and that translates to a physical defense and an explosive offense the organization hopes will connect with the people of Milwaukee.
"We are going to be good, but I want to continue to prove it," Landsee said.
"You can get in here cheaper than going to a movie and dad's happy, mom's happy. To be honest with you, it's not a game, it's an event. The game is going on around an event with all the giveaways and with all the neat things going on, it's a neat opportunity to come and see this. I hope, and I ask, everyone in Milwaukee – come out and see it. Everyone who comes to an Arena game says 'I can't believe how fun that was.' And it will be better as we go in the season, but we need the fans to come and let them know whose house we're in. Then, it'll be a two-way street. We'll give them what they came to see, and by the same token they'll be there to support us."
One thing that fans can rally around is a hard-hitting defense, and the Mustangs put that on display Thursday night. They only allowed 40 points – excellent by AFL standards – and sent several Power players to the sidelines, including offensive lineman-fullback Mike Lucian, who was pulled from the game after blood poured from his mouth.
"The only thing the defense has to do is learn how to finish," Landsee said. "Hey, you got 'em down by 20, they've got to throw the rock down the field, force them throw it underneath or beat 'em up. I think we did real good job of that. But we can get better."
A convincing victory in the season's first home game is a good start.
"(Thursday) was big for us – the first home game sets the tempo for the rest of the year as far as ticket sales, fan base, and it's a division game," Wisconsin native Adam Tadisch said. "We needed it. It's a win-win."
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.