Home Sports Ex-NFL head coach Jeff Fisher becomes interim commissioner of Arena Football League

Ex-NFL head coach Jeff Fisher becomes interim commissioner of Arena Football League

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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 29: Former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Nissan Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Falcons 28-23. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The new Arena Football League is turning to Jeff Fisher as it faces significant headwinds. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Needing a replacement commissioner amid a tumultuous debut, the new Arena Football League did something often seen in spring football leagues: search for faded NFL talent.

In this case, Jeff Fisher.

The former Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans head coach confirmed to reporters Tuesday that he will take over as interim commissioner of the newly rebuilt AFL. according to Lauren Walsh of WSMV. Fisher will replace current commissioner Lee Hutton III, reportedly at the urging of a group of league owners.

Fisher has been involved in spring football for years, first as head coach of the USFL’s Michigan Panthers and recently as a member of the ownership group of the Nashville Kats in the AFL.

“This league is good. We’re looking forward to continuing and finishing the season,” Fisher said via WSMV.

While Fisher projects optimism, the owner-engineered nature of his mid-season signing reflects the dire situation of the AFL in its third life. The second incarnation of the AFL ended when it went bankrupt in 2019, and new investors relaunched the league with 16 teams for this season.

That number of teams has now been reduced to 12, after three weeks of play. Minnesota Myth, Philadelphia Soul, Iowa Rampage and Georgia Force have all withdrawn, with Myth and Soul withdrawing last week. The exits have not been graceful, judging by this story from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Tristen Burnett, a certified sports agent based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, who represents Joe Mancuso, the Soul’s scheduled starting quarterback, said in a phone interview Friday that his client had a demoralizing experience in the Super 8. Burnett He said the Soul players were expelled. from the motel to the street early Friday morning, that the motel bill was not paid and that the players’ luggage was taken and they were locked in a motel room.

“The authorities got their stuff from the Super 8,” Burnett said. “Joe just fell. He left a good situation in the IFL (Indoor Football League) with the Vegas Knight Hawks. He bet on himself in a new league. He had a nice apartment for his little son and his wife in Henderson, Nevada, and he comes to this? The (Soul) players were promised apartments. There were drugs and prostitution going in and out of this motel. It has been a disgrace. Joe said, “I haven’t gotten a W-2 yet to get paid.” “Without a players association, no one is going to defend these guys.”

The economics around spring football are tough without help from the NFL, which the AFL was actually supposed to overcome. have their games televised on NFL Network. those plans failed before the seasonand we are seeing the consequences here.

It’s hard to see Fisher significantly changing the numbers at play here, but at this point the league might want a stabilizing presence as it figures out how to rebound for a second season or prepare for another bankruptcy.

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