Connect with us

Sports

With AFL teams folding, league names ex-Rams coach Jeff Fisher interim commissioner

Published

on

With AFL teams folding, league names ex-Rams coach Jeff Fisher interim commissioner

The man whose firing led to the Sean McVay era with the Rams has been tabbed to breathe life into the wobbly Arena Football League.

Jeff Fisher, a longtime NFL coach and executive with deep Southern California ties, said Tuesday that he replaced AFL commissioner Lee Hutton III and became interim commissioner. Fisher is president of football operations for the Nashville Kats, one of 10 teams still operating in the league that began play April 27.

The AFL relaunched this spring with 16 teams five years after it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2019. But it soon became clear that several franchises weren’t going to last. The Minnesota Myth, Philadelphia Soul, Iowa Rampage and Georgia Force folded in the last few weeks.

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

Fisher, 66, grew up in the San Fernando Valley, playing youth football for the Reseda Rams before starring at Taft High in Woodland Hills. He played on the 1978 USC national championship team in 1978 and played four years in the NFL after the Chicago Bears drafted him in 1981.

Advertisement

Coaching was his true calling, and by 1991 he was back in L.A. as defensive coordinator of the Rams under John Robinson, who had been his coach at USC.

Fisher became head coach of the Houston Oilers at age 36 in 1994, and led the team to the Super Bowl after the 1999 season in their third year after they relocated to Nashville and became the Tennessee Titans.

Following a 17-year stint with that franchise, Fisher was hired by the St. Louis Rams in 2012, saying, “I’m really excited that the Rams are the best fit for me. I hope I’m the best fit for the Rams.”

He wasn’t, slogging through four losing seasons before the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 2016. While it marked a homecoming for Fisher, the losing continued. The Rams were 4-9 when he was fired with three games to play.

Enter McVay, who immediately turned the team around, going 11-5 in 2017, 13-3 with a Super Bowl berth in 2018 and a Super Bowl victory after the 2021 season.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, Fisher has bounced around the minor leagues. He was an executive with the short-lived Alliance of American Football in 2019 and jumped back into coaching in 2022 with the Michigan Panthers of the United States Football League, which lasted all of two seasons before merging with the XFL.

Now he’s beginning the daunting task of keeping the AFL operating despite the apparent financial problems of several franchises. The most recent team to fold was the Minnesota Myth, and in an email sent Monday to players, owner Diana Hutton accused the league of attempting to sabotage the team in order to force Lee Hutton III — her husband — to resign as commissioner.

Hutton III refused to do so, but league owners ousted him Tuesday, replacing him with Fisher, whose first call might be to the NFL Network, which apparently has backed out of a deal to televise AFL games.

The NFL in March announced more than 30 AFL games would be broadcast on NFL Network, yet none have been televised and others have disappeared from the NFLN listings.

The AFL news release announcing Fisher’s hiring identified the 10 teams still operating: Albany Firebirds, Billings Outlaws, Nashville Kats, Orlando Predators, Rapid City Marshals, Salina Liberty, SW Kansas Storm, Washington Wolfpack, West Texas Desert Hawks and Wichita Regulators.

Advertisement

Fisher apparently expects the deck to continue to shuffle. The release goes on to say that the league “also will be speaking with other teams not mentioned, to discuss and perhaps, include them in current games/seasons.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sports

Chiefs’ Travis Kelce defends Harrison Butker as ‘a great person and a great teammate,’ despite differing views

Published

on

Chiefs’ Travis Kelce defends Harrison Butker as ‘a great person and a great teammate,’ despite differing views

Join Fox News for access to this content

Plus special access to select articles and other premium content with your account – free of charge.

Please enter a valid email address.

By entering your email and pushing continue, you are agreeing to Fox News’ Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which includes our Notice of Financial Incentive. To access the content, check your email and follow the instructions provided.

Having trouble? Click here.

Travis Kelce became the latest Kansas City Chiefs’ player to take a stance in defense of Harrison Butker’s character on Friday amid heavy scrutiny the kicker faced following his commencement speech at a Catholic college in Kansas earlier this month. 

The veteran tight end addressed the topic during the latest episode of the “New Heights” podcast, with his brother, former Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce. 

Advertisement

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, right, speaks next to kicker Harrison Butker during the press conference on the DFB Campus. (Arne Dedert/picture alliance via Getty Images)

“I’ve known him for seven plus years, probably, eight plus years. And I cherish him as a teammate,” Kelce said of Butker, who he calls “Harry.” 

“I think Pat [Mahomes] said it best where – he is every bit of a great person and a great teammate. He’s treated friends and family that I’ve introduced to him with nothing but respect and kindness, and that’s how he treats everyone.”

Butker, and by association the Chiefs, have come under the spotlight since his speech at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, on May 11. In speaking about his views as a Catholic, Butker made references to various topics, including abortion and the LGBTQ community. Speaking directly to female graduates, he spoke about the importance of being a homemaker, which he called “one of the most important titles of all.” 

Advertisement

Kelce admitted to disagreeing with the “majority” of the speech, but he added that he has no interest in judging anyone based on their “religious views.” 

“When it comes down to his views and what he said at the St. Benedictine’s commencement speech, those are his. I can’t say I agree with the majority of it or just about any of it outside of just him loving his family and his kids, and I don’t think that I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views of how to go about life. That’s just not who I am.”

Butker and Kelce celebrate

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, #87, celebrates with place kicker Harrison Butker, #7, after Butker kicks the game winning field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals during the AFC Championship game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.  (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

CITY OF KANSAS CITY HAS ‘SEPARATED’ FROM EMPLOYEE WHO DOXXED HARRISON BUTKER FOLLOWING SPEECH, MAYOR SAYS

Speaking from his own experience being raised by two working parents, Kelce expressed appreciation for all “walks of life.” 

“My mother and my father both provided for our family. And both my mother and my father made home what it was. So they were homemakers, and they were providers, and they were unbelievable at being present every single day in my life. And I think that was a beautiful upbring for me.”

Advertisement

“Now, I don’t think everyone should do it the way my parents did, but I certainly and sure as hell thank my parents and love my parents for being able to provide and making sure that home was what it was,” he added.  

Travis Kelce's parents take the stage

Donna Kelce and Ed Kelce Jason Kelce, parents of Jason and Travis Kelce, take the stage before their sons are presented with diplomas at their alma mater, University of Cincinnati. The brothers both earned degrees but never participated in graduation ceremonies. (Cara Owsley/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Jason Kelce echoed that sentiment, adding that one of the most important takeaways was the importance Butker placed on the family dynamic. 

“I don’t think we have enough people talking about the foundations of families and the importance of and the seriousness of parenthood,” Jason said. “If you are going to embark on being a parent, I do think it needs to be the most important thing in your life.” 

Follow Fox News Digital’s sports coverage on X, and subscribe to the Fox News Sports Huddle newsletter.

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Sports

Column: Why the A's 30-year commitment to Nevada has a 'Get Out of Vegas Free' card

Published

on

Column: Why the A's 30-year commitment to Nevada has a 'Get Out of Vegas Free' card

The pitch to the Nevada legislature was simple: If you provide the Oakland Athletics with $380 million in public funding toward a new ballpark, the A’s will agree to move to Las Vegas and stay there for at least 30 years.

The A’s got the funding. However, the agreement intended to bind the A’s to Las Vegas provides the team with an unusual escape clause: If ever a tax is aimed at the A’s, the team can leave town without penalty.

“That is not a normal clause in these things,” said Martin J. Greenberg, the founder of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University Law School and an expert in so-called non-relocation agreements in Major League Baseball.

“The whole object of this is to keep the team at home.”

This is not on the A’s. The Las Vegas Stadium Authority approved such a provision in luring the Raiders and presented virtually identical contract language to the A’s.

Advertisement

“It is a targeted tax clause that says if they are taxed in a way that is different than the way other businesses are taxed, they have the option to leave,” said Erica Johnson, director of communications for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

This is not some remote hypothetical. If you go to a show in Las Vegas, you pay a 9% live entertainment tax. If you go to a game in Las Vegas — and the game is staged by a pro team based in Nevada — you do not pay that tax.

In 2021, an effort to remove that professional sports exemption was rejected. During legislative hearings on the A’s funding last summer, a state senator asked A’s President Dave Kaval whether the team would be willing to pay the tax, given that smaller Nevada businesses do. The Raiders and NHL Golden Knights do not.

Kaval dodged a yes or no answer, saying only that the legislation did not contemplate that. In the future, should a specific tax target the A’s, their players or opposing players, the A’s can move out of town.

The A’s propose a 33,000-seat ballpark in Las Vegas. If the A’s sell 26,000 tickets per game at last season’s average major league ticket price of $37, a 9% tax could generate $7 million for Nevada per year.

Advertisement

In a presentation led by Steve Hill — chairman of the stadium authority and president of the visitors authority — the Nevada legislature was told the A’s could generate an estimated $1.3 billion per year in economic impact. (Most economists consider this estimate wildly optimistic.)

I asked Johnson why the A’s would be provided with an opt-out clause that could jeopardize that economic impact. She did not comment. Hill was unavailable for comment.

“These non-relocation agreements are what I call political cover,” Greenberg said. “They basically are, at least from a politician’s standpoint, the quid pro quo for the gigantic amount of public dollars that are going into these stadiums.

“Basically, the politician can say, ‘Look, we’re investing all this money because the team is going to stay here, based upon a non-relocation agreement.’ ”

In 2022, the Anaheim City Council considered such a targeted tax — a 2% admission tax that would have applied only to Disneyland, Angel Stadium and the Honda Center, where the NHL Ducks play. The council ultimately voted against the tax, in part because the Angels’ lease requires the city to credit the amount generated by any such targeted tax at Angel Stadium against the team’s rental payments.

Advertisement

The leases of the Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners restrict the ability of the respective stadium authorities to impose any targeted taxes. The Miami Marlins’ lease restricts the city or county from imposing a targeted tax and empowers the team to sue if it believes a tax violates the agreement.

David Samson, the former Marlins president who negotiated that lease, said it is impossible to protect against any targeted tax that might be imposed at any level of government at any point in the future. What a lease can do, he said, is say what can happen in the event such a tax is imposed.

“Can be anything,” Samson said, “a rent abatement, some sort of extra flow of funds from general revenue, or it can be as far as, hey, this non-relocation agreement becomes null and void.”

I asked Johnson if any alternative language had been considered besides granting the A’s the ability to move. She did not comment.

For the record, neither Greenberg nor Samson believes Las Vegas would be at high risk of losing the A’s if a targeted tax were to be imposed. For one, although the A’s would have the option to relocate, they could choose not to do so, or negotiate a lease concession in exchange for not doing so.

Advertisement

If the team did wish to move, it would have to find a new home, secure funding for a new ballpark there, and win a vote among MLB owners — and the saga that led to Las Vegas took two decades for the A’s. Their move to Las Vegas would be only the second MLB relocation since 1972.

“It’s not easy, as we’ve seen, to move a team,” Samson said.

It’s also not easy to build a fan base in a new city. It might be a little bit easier if the “We’re here for 30 years!” pledge were not accompanied by an asterisk.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Sports

Cavaliers dismiss coach J.B. Bickerstaff after two consecutive playoff berths

Published

on

Cavaliers dismiss coach J.B. Bickerstaff after two consecutive playoff berths

Join Fox News for access to this content

You have reached your maximum number of articles. Log in or create an account FREE of charge to continue reading.

Please enter a valid email address.

By entering your email and pushing continue, you are agreeing to Fox News’ Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which includes our Notice of Financial Incentive. To access the content, check your email and follow the instructions provided.

Having trouble? Click here.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had a relatively successful season. Despite advancing to the second round of the playoffs, Cavaliers management decided a coaching change was in order.

Cleveland’s run to the Eastern Conference semifinals marked the franchise’s deepest playoff run since LeBron James’ exit following the 2017-18 season.

Advertisement

On Thursday, the Cavs announced J.B. Bickerstaff had been relieved of his head coaching duties. Bickerstaff first stepped into the head coaching role in February 2019 following John Beilein’s resignation.

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks to the media after Game 7 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic May 5, 2024, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.   (David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bickerstaff’s dismissal came one week after the Boston Celtics eliminated Cleveland from playoff contention. 

Bickerstaff had to steer the team through numerous injuries during the regular season and NBA playoffs. All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell and center Jarrett Allen were sidelined with injuries during the Cavs’ final two playoff games.

Advertisement

CAVALIERS’ DONOVAN MITCHELL REFUTES REPORT SUGGESTING HE GREW FRUSTRATED WITH TEAMMATES

Bickerstaff was successful, but other issues apparently led Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and president of basketball operations Koby Altman to make a move.

The coaching change could trigger a summer shift for the Cavs, who are hoping to sign Mitchell to a long-term contract extension and could make major moves while being tied to whatever James ultimately decides to do.

James, who can opt out of his contract with the Lakers, attended Cleveland’s final home playoff game, raising speculation about him making another homecoming and playing a third stint with the Cavs in perhaps a final career act.

VIEW MOMENT ON X

Advertisement

In the short term, the Cavs have begun their search for a replacement for Bickerstaff.

“J.B. is a well-respected NBA coach and an incredible human being,” Altman said in a statement. “Over the past four years, he helped establish a culture that progressively drove players to become the best versions of themselves. Decisions like these are never easy, particularly when you look back at where this franchise rebuild started under his leadership.

“The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships.”

The Cavs head coach and general manager attend a press conference

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and general manager Koby Altman of the Cleveland Cavaliers are interviewed at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse Oct. 2, 2023, in Cleveland. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

While Bickerstaff was credited with building a strong culture, he had his flaws.

He struggled with in-game adjustments. His offense was often stagnant, and there’s a strong belief there should have been more development by guard Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, who, along with Mitchell and Allen, give the Cavs one of the league’s best young core of players.

Advertisement
J.B. Bickerstaff coaches the Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff yells instructions to players in the first half of a game against the Houston Rockets Dec. 15, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

In his first full season, Bickerstaff, who was under contract through 2026, went just 22-50 with one of the NBA’s youngest rosters. They improved to 44 wins in his second year before losing in the Play-In Tournament while showing major strides.

After acquiring Mitchell via trade in 2022, the Cavs went 51-31 last season and had home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs before getting knocked out in five games by the New York Knicks. The early exit put added pressure on Bickerstaff to do more this season.

The 45-year-old Bickerstaff went 170-159 in the regular season and 6-11 in the playoffs with Cleveland.

The Cavs went 48-34 this season and stayed among the top teams in the Eastern Conference amid the rash of major injuries.

Advertisement

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Fox News Digital’s sports coverage on X, and subscribe to the Fox News Sports Huddle newsletter.

Continue Reading

Trending