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  • ReLaxing Luke

Why the PLL Experience is Prodigious...

Me waiting for Chaos v Whipsnakes game to start...

My readers, we have survived the second PLL bye week. I know, I know. I didn’t think we’d survive. Worse, I saw the PLL in Denver. Watching games on television doesn’t do the league justice. It’s fun to watch on tv, but it’s amazing to observe in person. I must wait till New York playoffs to attend in person. It’s unbearable.

If the PLL is visiting your city, you must buy tickets. You are doing yourself a disservice by not. Seeing PLL lacrosse has changed me. I can no longer watch non-professional lacrosse. It can’t compete.

I decided to publish this article post-bye week. I didn’t want it forgotten before San Jose weekend. If I convince one on-the-fence San Jose resident to buy tickets, this article is successful. So, what makes the PLL experience special? Why is it lacrosse porn on steroids? Read on and be enlightened.

I knew the PLL played in Denver for July 27-28th. I bought four tickets for family and myself. I’m moving to New Jersey in two weeks, so it was a “sendoff” present. We got seats in row three behind the road team’s sideline. A week out, I ordered myself a Chaos jersey, my sister a Chaos shirt, and my mother a PLL t-shirt. We were decked out in PLL merchandise.

Saturday came and we began our drive to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Sadly, my companions sluggishly left. It meant I was late for game one.

By the time we arrived, pre-game activities had concluded. We walked in and Atlas was leading 8-1. It was the first quarter. I soaked in my surroundings. The crowd was impressive. At least 5,000 fans were in attendance. The television broadcasts don’t show the entire crowd. It may seem like empty seats galore, but scores of fans are walking around and watching from above. It’s more relaxed than other sporting events.

Part of the crowd for Atlas v Redwoods... Lots of folks walking around.

We grabbed our seats and took in an expected blowout. I should have known. Blowouts don’t occur in the PLL. Redwoods made it a game, but the early deficit was too much to overcome. Atlas won 18-15.

Some thoughts follow: my party agreed the Atlas jerseys rock. Redwoods not so much. Redwoods are cursed with the PLL’s ugliest jerseys. I like their color scheme, but white jerseys with vertical brown stripes aren’t eye candy. Redwoods’ home jerseys look like skid marks on tighty whities. I hope they get a redesign for year two.

It didn’t help Atlas looked sick as hell. Those baby blue jerseys with pearly white helmets look amazing. My parents liked them so much, they bought two Paul Rabil jerseys in between games.

During game one, a nice lady handed out extra All-Star Game drawstring bags. My sister and I both grabbed one. This was a wise decision. You see, post-game, players sign autographs for fans. We didn’t bring anything for signatures. But we had drawstring bags. We hopped a couple seats and were crunched together in row one.

A benefit from lacrosse being smaller is player accessibility. You won’t catch Tom Brady signing 500 autographs after a game. In the PLL, players will stay until they are forced, by security, to leave. I got loads of autographs, but the most notable ones came from Scotty Rodgers, Jules Heningburg, and Paul Rabil.

Heningburg didn’t like my Chaos jersey. Sorry Jules, I can’t wear all six jerseys at once! Scotty Rodgers is an absolute monster up close. I told him I pity the poor attackman that attempts a crease dive on him. Rodgers said he hopes to have the opportunity to stop those shots. He hasn’t played much, but is as capable as Jack Concannon (who’s autograph I also got).

When Rabil came up, a swarm of fans lunged towards him. He signed my bag while I thanked him for founding the PLL and fighting to grow lacrosse. I mentioned the league ruined college lacrosse for me. He laughed, thanked me for coming out, and gave me a fist bump. I got a fist bump from the Sidney Crosby of lacrosse. So epic! You would not be having a casual post-game conversation with Michael Jordan at a Chicago Bulls game.

In between games, we toured the stadium. The league cleverly set up a merchandise store with its newest goodies. My parents loved Rabil’s jersey, so they bought two. My sister got herself a Myles Jones Chaos jersey and stickers for every team. Later, I would buy a Justin Guterding Chrome jersey.

The store was packed. You could barely move. People worry about tickets sold per event, but they don’t realize how much money the PLL makes selling merchandise. Every fan wore something PLL related.

Part of the crowd in the PLL store.

The sun drooped below the horizon. The moment I’d been waiting for arrived. Chaos v Whipsnakes. I’ve been a diehard Chaos fan since listening to Andy Towers’ hot mic during NBC Gold streams. The dude is hilarious. Warning: he is not for kids, which is why I love him. To me, Chaos comes across as the non-family friendly team. They belong on Bourbon Street while partying with Victoria’s Secret super models. They wear Darth Vader colors, show no mercy, and spew colorful language. I’m sick of PC coaches and “non-offensive” teams. Chaos doesn’t care and it’s refreshing.

The jerseys for both teams were epic. I’d say Whipsnakes’ white jerseys were nicer than Chaos’ black ones, but Chaos had nicer helmets. The sizzle was there, but was there steak? Hell yes! Chaos v Whipsnakes is the best lacrosse game I’ve ever seen. The crowd was huge and electric. It was a crowd of 6,500 minimum.

Connor Fields is a freak. He scored a no angle shot from GLE. My jaw dropped. He’s a human cheat code. His best play wasn’t even a goal. During a 1v1, Fields jumped up and shot the ball between his legs. He barely missed. If Fields had scored, I would’ve suffered a heart attack. Fields saved my life by missing the coolest goal in lacrosse history.

Jarrod Neumann, the PLL’s hardest shooter, is a beast. To me, Jarrod looks like a cooler, non-pierced version of the Persian king in 300. But let’s be real. If Neumann fought Spartacus, it wouldn’t be fair. Jarrod wouldn’t need a hidden passage to flank and surprise the Spartans. He would charge head on, alone, and win.

It’s beyond comprehension how Neumann shoots the ball so well with a d pole. He scored a 2 pointer early. It was the night’s best goal. The ball was in his pocket for two seconds. Generating that much power, that quickly, is astounding. Jarrod, if you’re reading this, try your hardest in the next hardest shot competition. Everyone knows you weren’t going 100 percent. You can beat 120 mph.

Before the clock hit zero, I hopped a couple seats and got in the front row. I was going to meet Andy Towers. Whether he came over or not. Time expired and kids poured to the sideline, celebrating a 13-12 Chaos victory. The players came and signed autographs.

Patrick Resch was signing my bag. I could contain my excitement no longer. I asked if Coach Towers would come over. He seemed taken aback and amused. I don’t think many fans ask to see coach. He went over and yelled for Towers to come over.

Andy didn’t hear him. I intervened. I screamed “Andy Towers” at the top of my lungs. He heard me. Andy lumbered towards us. He towered above the crowd. I yelled incomprehensible gibberish. I was too excited. I meant to say “GO CHAOS” and “YOU’RE THE BEST COACH”. I screamed at Andy and he yelled back. It was amazing. My life is officially complete.

Coach Towers is so tough, he eats a bowl of nails for breakfast. When he wants cereal, he pours gasoline instead of milk. Towers uses pepper spray to season his steaks. When Andy lifts weights, he has to take breaks. He doesn’t need one. The weights do. Coach Towers is the G.O.A.T.

I have proof of my excitement. While screaming at Towers, I accidentally kneed a cup holder out of place. It hit the ground. After an inner dialogue, I took the cup holder home and my dad painted it Chaos colors.

My PLL Chaos cupholder...

I would like to thank Patrick Resch for making this possible. PLL, make a Resch jersey so I can buy it.

You may think my night peaked. Wrong! After Towers turned away, Jarrod Neumann strolled over. He removed his Chaos glove, signed it, and scanned the crowd. I was surrounded my children. I assumed I had no chance. No way was I, a 21-year-old bro, getting a signed Chaos glove over teeny toddlers. I yelled “hardest shot” at Neumann, which caught his attention. And then, the Prince of Providence, the Jocular Jarrod, made eye contact. We smiled at each other. He signaled he was throwing the glove right at me. He tossed the glove, with pinpoint accuracy, into my hands. With the skill of Odell Beckham, I gracefully snagged it one-handed with my fingertips.

Neumann posted this pic on his Insta. We are looking right at each other here...

Just kidding. I dropped it. I choked. I pulled a Super Bowl XXXIII Atlanta Falcons. At this point, divine intervention occurred. A nice security guard picked it up and analyzed the crowd. The children surrounding me squirmed at the prospect of owning Jarrod’s glove. I moaned, “Oh c’mon I was so close. Please.” She looked into my eyes and handed me the glove. I got it. I have a Chaos LC glove.

Chaos LC glove signed by Jarrod Neumann and Connor Fields...

I must have died and gone to Heaven. Those two moments were tremendous. After that, the night slowed. I got Connor Fields to sign my new glove and bag. I told him his between-the-legs shot would’ve broke the internet had he scored. Fields said he likes to be creative. My sister got Myles Jones’ autograph. I didn’t. Before I could, security made him go into the locker room. I don’t blame them. That man would have stayed another two hours if he kept signing lacrosse memorabilia.

Day one was over. Day two was just as stirring. For Archers v Chrome, we showed up two hours early. Pre-game, the league has neat stations set up. They have a hardest shot, a pull-up bar (the bar is a stick), and nets. There are raffles to win free gear and things of that nature. A nice touch.

Once inside, attendance was noticeably lower. This was expected. Chaos v Whipsnakes was the headliner. Archers and Chrome were the 5th and 6th ranked teams. More people are going to see the New England Patriots vs Kansas City than the New York Giants vs Oakland.

That said, a casual observer wouldn’t know these are struggling squads. It was a defensive clash, with Archers winning 9-7. Chrome continued its unfortunate trend of losing late. Chrome’s defense was amazing, but it surrendered two 2-point shots to Marcus Holman. Holman has a cannon for a shot.

Connor Farrell is the real deal. I was lucky to see his first PLL goal. Farrell was merciful and didn’t lay the thunder on anyone. He never has to dress up for Halloween. He can show up to any party and say he’s dressed as Thor.

It would be unfair to not mention RJ Kaminski and Kayla Knierim. Both do an excellent job at keeping the crowd engaged. Kids are in love with RJ. He’s more popular than the players! It was funny watching him film for the PLL’s Instagram story. You gain a different perspective after seeing the work that goes into his videos. It gives you a bigger appreciation for the labor RJ puts in. Keep up the good work RJ!

Kayla is the PLL’s sideline reporter. She introduced us to challenges such as the “lacrosse floss” and helmet shuffle. Let me say, the PLL helmet shuffle is for real. Most shuffles are cake, but theirs was as tough as the cinnamon challenge. Kayla was a good sport and still handed out prizes for the losers (of challenges). Kayla and RJ are easily the biggest source of entertainment besides the games.

Post-game, I got autographs from Connor Farrell, Justin Guterding, and Marcus Holman. I asked Farrell about his school going D1. He said he was glad to have finished college. An answer I respect! Holman looks like an Abercrombie and Fitch model. His hair is perfect even after playing a full game. I asked him about Utah lacrosse (coaches there). He said the team is young but improving. I hope he’s right!

Guterding was swarmed by fans, but was kind enough to sign my drawstring bag. I heard him mention he had a redeye flight. That’s the next level for pro lacrosse. To become a full-time job for players. The PLL is trending towards making this a reality.

My autographed bag after a weekend of fun...

The next step for PLL management is to provide more out-of-game entertainment. During halftime, the jumbotron replays PLL advertisements. You don’t need to advertise your league to me. I’m already a fan.

The league needs dance teams, mascots, or quick halftime shows. Have a dance team perform in between quarters. Make all six mascots compete in a wrestling tournament. Heck, have dogs catch frisbees on the field. Just do something! I don’t want to look at an empty field for 10 plus minutes.

I believe the league is looking to make this happen. It’s the league’s first season and you can’t expect them to be a finished product. They are learning as they grow. For a first-year league, the quality of product and level of professionalism is amazing. I was never bored. It was an absolute blast.

12,892 Denver residents would agree. This was the announced attendance for all three games combined. Chaos v Whipsnakes earned the highest audience score on NBCSN in PLL history—129,000. The league has done an excellent job of gaining exposure.

The league is growing. If you have the opportunity to see a match, this season, you must capitalize. One day, the league will be too large to have players sign autographs for every fan. One day, you won’t get dirt cheap tickets in prime seating. Soon, the PLL’s first season will be complete. You can’t see attend the PLL’s first season next year. The league is transforming professional lacrosse, a relatively unknown profession, into a mega sport. The PLL is a lacrosse movement. The question is: are you ready to join?

Me with all my PLL swag post-game of Chaos v Whipsnakes...


Did you enjoy my article? Do you agree the PLL experience is prodigious? Have I convinced you to buy tickets? Do PLL games sound lame? Whatever your thoughts, let me know by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can subscribe to my website to comment directly onto this article. By subscribing you will be notified by email whenever I publish a new article. Any and all support is appreciated! Thank you so much for reading and hope to see you in San Jose.

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