By Hollis Wormsby
This Sunday, at 2 p.m., Birmingham’s latest professional football team, the Iron, will begin play at Legion Field and here are some of the reasons I will be pulling for their success.
First of all, this new team will mean job opportunities not just for players looking for a first or another chance at the NFL as Iron players like former University of Alabama stars Trent Richardson and Blake Sims will be doing, but also will give young professionals interested in developing their pro sports management skills an opportunity to get meaningful experience. In fact, when Iron General Manager, Joe Pendry was asked what was most exciting about accepting the challenge of developing a new team in a new league he said it was the ability to give so many people opportunities.
Pendry knows a little about big time football. He coached for 10 years under Nick Saban at Alabama including time as assistant head coach. He has also served under Bobby Bowden, NFL Legend Bill Polian, who is also the league’s commissioner and served as the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers.
The League and the team will also be good for Legion Field and the surrounding neighborhoods. There will be five games played at Legion Field during this inaugural season. That is five games that people who earn supplementary income by working at Legion Field can look forward to bringing home.
The league will conduct workshops for young football players and also give local cheer squads one more venue to show off their skills and use as a fundraiser. During its first year at least, the team will not have their own cheer squad, and will instead set a rotating lineup of local cheer squads who will get additional exposure.
The league is expected to have a very competitive schedule and a quality of play that may surprise some folks. A lot of the players have some NFL experience on either a regular season roster or at least as practice squad players, so their knowledge of football and football skill sets should be high. And with coaches like SEC legend, Steve Spurrier amongst those who will be leading League Rosters, a very exciting brand of football is expected.
Anyone who has lived in Birmingham for long, remembers a legacy of failed pro football leagues that have passed through. But Birmingham almost always had the strongest teams and the strongest local support. I am going to be at Legion Field this Sunday to see the Iron in their maiden game against the Memphis Express. You should to. Or at least that’s the way I see it. For ticket information call 866-708-8499.
(Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 29 years. He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM. If you would like to comment on this column you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)