Tempe native Rick Neuheisel to lead Alliance of American Football franchise in Arizona

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The Alliance of American Football names Tempe native Rick Neuheisel Head Coach The Alliance of American Football names Tempe native Rick Neuheisel Head Coach
Alliance of American Football Alliance of American Football
Tempe native Rick Neuheisel will lead the new football league. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Tempe native Rick Neuheisel will lead the new football league. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)

Construction continues at Sun Devil Stadium. It was a fitting setting for the Alliance of American Football to lay the groundwork for their new Arizona franchise. The yet to be named team will be lead by Tempe native Rick Neuheisel.

"When I was a kid, Shea Boulevard was the end of the world," said Neuheisel about returning to the stadium that he used to watch games at as a kid. "I was up in Ray Anderson's office and all the flashback of memories, you know, 1977, McClintock versus Washington, Karl Kiefer's first state championship.  That happened, I was there. I remember being on the bus, pounding helmets signing 'We Are the Champions."

Neuheisel played his college football at UCLA, winning a Rose Bowl. He went on to play for the USFL's San Antonio Gunslingers. The league folded after three seasons but used a similar model to “The Alliance.”

“These guys, in the conversations that I've had, have gleaned a lot of what the mistakes were. Trying to grow too fast. Probably not vetting the ownership fully enough to make sure that everybody was fiscally responsible and so forth.

One thing I do know is there are plenty enough players to play a spring league,” said Neuheisel, who went on to play briefly for the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the strike shortened season of 1987. “I can tell you by virtue of how my phone is ringing off the hook about how many guys want to coach. Especially in a situation where it's just a 10 game season, from January through April. The college football coach is working 365 days a year.”

The new league gives players who don’t make the NFL a chance to keep playing. ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson managed NFL football operations for eight seasons.

“I know from my professional background, players that are just short of playing in the NFL need developmental opportunities,” said Anderson. “When you think of guys like Bercovici, Jordan Simone, and some other guys who just fell short. Would this potentially be an opportunity for them in their back yard to play football and get a chance to take the next step? They need to have a place to go, so selfishly we’d rather have that right here at Sun Devil Stadium.”

The league will eliminate kickoff and onside kicks, instead giving an offense a chance to covert a 4th down and 10 at their own 35. The league was founded by Hall of Famer Bill Polian and movie producer Charlie Ebersol, son of legendary NBC Sports producer Dick Ebersol.

“When we originally started this conversation, I said jokingly to my father, 'man, can you imagine if we ended up with CBS as a partner?,” said Ebersol.

“We're going to lose 60 percent of commercials, get rid of the TV timeout. We're going to deliver a 2 1/2 hour experience and CBS was really supportive of that. And they understood what I was trying to build on the digital side. It's a great marriage."

Former All Pros Troy Polamalu and Jared Allen are investors and player relations executives. Allen made quite the entrance to the introductory news conference. The new league kicks off in February 2019, a week after the Super Bowl.

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