B.J. Butler was ready for his second year with the Iowa Barnstormers. The team was coming into its first home game of the season against the Arizona Rattlers.
Everything was normal. Butler had his usual pre-game prayer and took a knee on the goal line. Though, this time, Butler had a skinny towel hanging off the side of his pants.
“Overrated,” The towel read in in descending letters starting at the top and going down.
“It gives me a little extra motivation and push,” Butler said.
Iowa Barnstormers try to prove they aren’t Overrated
This week, the Iowa Barnstormers will face the Arizona Rattlers, and the reason that Butler dawns his towel, coach Kevin Guy.
After graduating Louisville, Butler started his professional football career by trying out with the then Arena Football League franchise Arizona Rattlers.
Although he was later cut.
“He cut me,” Butler said. “He said I wasn’t ready.”
Butler would go on to have two great seasons in the league before ending up with Iowa.
“I’m glad he cut him,” Barnstormers coach Dixie Wooten said. “Now he’s big time here with us.”
Though, the riff with Guy didn’t stop there.
During a radio show interview, Guy was asked about Butler, who had been his former player. In a quote, Guy called Butler overrated.
Ever since then, he’s been wearing the towel.
“It also lets me know that he’s watching me or he’s watching us,” Butler said. “All [we’ve] been hearing about is how they haven’t been ready for us the past two years. Whether it was them being new to the league or they weren’t ready. All I’m thinking is that they’re basically saying that we don’t belong on the same playing field as them.”
This Sunday, the Barnstormers will get another opportunity to show that they aren’t the overrated team in this rivalry.
Since Arizona joined the Indoor Football League (IFL), the Barnstormers are 2-0 against the Rattlers.
All time, the Rattlers lead the series 10-6, though all of the matchups culminated to eventually put Iowa and Arizona in the 1997 ArenaBowl, where Arizona beat Iowa 55-33.
“We’re looking for a great game [on Sunday],” Wooten said. “I think its going to be a championship atmosphere. We have a great team and the coaching staff down in Arizona can do some great things. We want to go down there and put a show on for the IFL.”
This Sunday’s game has the potential to be a season changing one for both teams.
For Iowa, a win would put the team in the driver’s seat to host the United Bowl championship game at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Barnstormers have been to two league championships in franchise history and have only qualified for the playoffs twice their 2008 rebirth. Hosting a championship game would mean that they would play their biggest game in over 20 years.
As for the Rattlers, winning would put the team two games ahead of Iowa and almost ensure that Arizona would have the first seed in the playoffs.
With that being said, individuals from both Iowa and Arizona say that the Rattlers are expecting their biggest crowd of the season on Sunday.
“[I expect the atmosphere to be] electric,” wide receiver Sheldon Augustine said. “It’s always cool to play in a packed house and I feel that there’s going to be great energy in that arena.”
The Rattlers are expecting upwards to 15,000 people at the game on Sunday.
However, like always, the Barnstormers are treating it just like any other.
“Its another game on the schedule,” Augustine said. “We treat every game as a regular game no matter who is on the schedule.”
Though, this game might be different, at least for Butler.
“I think Butler came out and played some pretty good games against them,” Wooten said. “I feel like he’s going to have another one.”
Butler and the Barnstormers will be looking to play motivated this weekend, to try and earn the victory.
“They’ve got no respect for us,” Butler said. “They don’t see that we can compete with anybody in this league and we are a pretty good team. As long as we do exactly what our coaches tell us to do, and have that great communication, we’ll be fine.”
The Barnstormers and Rattlers will kick off their Sunday afternoon game at 5:00 p.m. CT at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and will be streamed live on YouTube.
Fans can also listen live on 1040AM WHO radio as the great Joe Stasi calls the game.