The AAF may not have the talent on the field that the NFL does, but they were able to hire some big names to coach in the inaugural season. This includes former NFL coaches, college coaches, and former players. The exciting leaders on the sideline can improve their rosters, but also bring some flair to the league’s first season.
Rick Neuheisel, Arizona Hotshots
Neuheisel is no stranger to new leagues outside of the NFL. He was a member of the USFL as a player after his collegiate days at UCLA. Neuheisel was able to join the NFL for a few weeks during a strike in 1987, but never stuck as a quarterback in the league. He quickly switched to coaching and has had an esteemed career since he stopped playing. He has been the head coach at Washington, Colorado, and UCLA. Also, he was able to be the offensive coordinator for the Ravens in 2007. Neuheisel’s experience and offensive knowledge should be a great help for quarterback Trevor Knight.
Kevin Coyle, Atlanta Legends
Coyle is the surprise coach of the group considering he was just recently promoted to the position. Brad Childress, the former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, was pegged as the Legends’ coach but stepped down just a few weeks before the first game. Coyle has great experience on the defensive side of the ball. He has been the defensive coordinator for Fresno State, Maryland, Syracuse, and most recently, the Miami Dolphins. However, he hasn’t had any experience working offensively with teams. He will get help with that from his offensive coordinator, actual Atlanta Legend Michael Vick.
Tim Lewis, Birmingham Iron
The first former star player on the list is former Packers cornerback Tim Lewis. He was a first-round draft pick in 1983 to Green Bay and had 16 interceptions in his short career there. A neck injury cut his promising career short in the 1986 season. However, Lewis has found a way to become a great coach and gets his first head-coaching opportunity with the Iron. He has been a defensive coordinator for the Steelers and Giants and a position coach for many other NFL teams. Lewis can start his career as a head coach off to a good start with a successful first season with Birmingham.
Mike Singletary, Memphis Express
Possibly the most well-known name on the list, Singletary looks for a second chance as a head coach after his time with the San Francisco 49ers didn’t go well. Singletary was the head coach for the 49ers for just two years before he was let go and hasn’t been able to climb the ranks back up to that position since. He is a hall-of-famer as a player for his work at linebacker with the Chicago Bears, where he spent his entire career. Now, he gets a chance to change his legacy as a coach away from the guy who flashed his players in the locker room.
Steve Spurrier, Orlando Apollos
Although Singletary was the most well-known, Spurrier may be the most qualified. He won a national championship with Florida in his time there, and also was the head coach of the Redskins for a time. Spurrier is a legend in college football for his time with the Gators and South Carolina. Now, he takes over the Apollos. Spurrier got his start in the USFL as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Bandits. At the end of his career, he now comes full circle. Coaching a team in Florida in a professional league not named the NFL.
Dennis Erickson, Salt Lake Stallions
The Stallions get another legend in the coaching world. Erickson had a fantastic career in the NFL and in college football as a head coach. He jumped back and forth between the pros and the NCAA. Erickson was the coach at the University of Miami, then he took his talents to the NFL with the Seahawks. He had stints with Oregon State and the 49ers throughout the rest of his career. His overall college record was 179-96-1. Erickson retired in 2016, but has returned to coach Salt Lake in the inaugural season of the AAF.
Mike Riley, San Antonio Commanders
Riley is most well-known for his time with Oregon State and his short stint in the NFL as the head coach of the Chargers. His three year head coaching career in the NFL ended with a 14-34 record including a 1-15 season in 2000. He coached at Oregon State for fourteen years and had winning seasons in eight of those. Riley was then offered the Nebraska head coaching job, but struggled in his three years there and was fired. Riley will look to prove he can be more than average in the AAF with San Antonio this year.
Mike Martz, San Diego Fleet
San Diego gets an established offensive mind to work with the Fleet in Mike Martz. Martz has plenty of experience in the NFL as a head coach and an offensive coordinator. He was the coach of the Rams between 2000 and 2005 and the offensive coordinator of three other teams after that job. Martz retired from coaching in 2012, but has been staying in the game. He has been the head coach of one of the teams in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl for years. Now, he is given his own team once again in the Fleet. If Josh Johnson ends up playing for the Fleet this year, Martz’s offense could be dangerous for opposing defenses.