Wide receiver Saiosi Mariner expressed gratefulness for his opportunity in the UFL following his first game as a Michigan Panther. He caught a pass for 25 yards in which he broke the initial tackle and made the 2nd would-be tackler miss with a spin move. He also caught a 5-yard pass on a 2-point conversion attempt in the 3rd quarter. He made a nice-looking 1-handed catch on another 2-point conversion attempt but was forced out of bounds prior to the ball’s arrival.

Mariner played in 16 games over the 2022 and 2023 seasons in the CFL with the Ottawa RedBlacks where he recorded 26 catches for 317 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

“It’s definitely a blessing,” Mariner said after the game when asked to describe his feelings on being in the UFL after being in the CFL. “Some things weren’t going right for me the right way in the CFL, I’m fortunate that Steve and head coach Mike Nolan, and OC Marcel who is an old CFL guy. They believe in what I can do, so it was a great blessing of course to be in this position. So it was a split opportunity that I want to take advantage of for sure.”

There was a play in the 2nd quarter on a 2-point conversion in which Mariner had his helmet ripped off and was asking the officials for a penalty after the play but none was called.

“I think I gave him a move, and he didn’t expect that move. So he got a little grabby. My helmet ended up coming off. I thought I was gonna go back to my old CFL days when I come to a coach and I tell him he pulled off my helmet, we can go review it. But he probably didn’t wanna waste a challenge in that moment.” Mariner said recalling the play.

On another 2-point conversion attempt in the third quarter, there was early contact from Mariner who was targetted. He made an impressive catch through the contact although he was forced out of bounds prior to catching the ball.

“I thought I thought that one definitely should’ve been reviewed, which, you know, if it goes along with the game, bumps and bruises, like, you just gotta keep going and worry about the next play, play forward, and things like that,” Mariner said recalling the play.

“It’s a blessing,” Mariner answered when asked about his feelings scoring his first points in the UFL in his first game as a Panther. “You know, my first game CFL if I score, 1st game here, I score. So just a blessing. I was letting God use me as the instrument. So it’s a blessing to be out here. It’s a blessing to continue to do that and have some success doing it.”

Mariner also answered if he felt that a change of scenery could benefit him after not getting a large target share in Ottawa.

“You know, one opportunity to the next. It’s always good to go and cherish those opportunities.

And, like I said, I was more than grateful to be in Ottawa. I wish I could’ve stayed in there longer.” Mariner answered. “So definitely a change of scenery is always gonna be good for people, especially if you kinda feel like you’re not being used to your advantage in that other current situation. So this is a blessing for me. I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to be a panther.

Mariner spoke positively of the CFL despite not receiving a contract from a CFL team after becoming a free agent on February 13 when CFL free agency opened.

“It’s kinda been stagnant man, unfortunately, because CFL is definitely a place where I wanted to be. But I’m gonna take what opportunity gives me. But I always encourage other players to go to Canada. I love Canada. It’s a good league.”

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink
Jonathan Clink will work as UFL News Hub's primary correspondent covering the Michigan Panthers for the 2024. He has written over 250 articles covering the Canadian Football League prior to joining UFL News Hub. Clink is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba and currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has a background in several other sports as well having played soccer, basketball, and hockey competitively.

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