As if Birmingham needs another reason to get geared up for the launch of The Alliance of American Football this February, here’s a big one.
Joe Pendry is your team’s General Manager. And first of all, he is a fan of Birmingham.
“To be in Birmingham with the Birmingham Iron, I think that’s a very appropriate name for our team because of the people in the city of Birmingham,” Pendry said on Wednesday, the eve of the team’s name reveal. “They citizens here are hard working and dependable, and the city is that way. It’s aggressive and progressive, from the mayor to the business community and football fans. I’m really excited about this.”
All of that matters. But so does this: Joe Pendry became a key figure in The Alliance brain trust for the best of reasons. He cares about the sport to which he’s dedicated his life and the players who deserve the chance to perform at a higher level.
“That’s what’s so exciting about it,” Pendry said. “There are so many players who never get the opportunity. Or, if they do have the opportunity in pro football, they might not last long because of an injury, because of being in the wrong place with a stacked deck of personnel, or various and sundry reasons.”
Pendry is a rock star in the sport. He has worked for seven NFL teams and five major college programs, including Alabama from 2007-2010 as Assistant Head Coach. When he talks football, it more than probably is a good idea to take notes.
The players he’s talking about now are part of a numbers game. And they’re bona fide professional football players. Looking back at how The Alliance started stocking its rosters, Pendry puts himself in the players’ cleats.
“Each of them was one of 70,000 players playing college football,” Pendry said. “There are 1,700 on NFL rosters. So there are so many guys out there who can play the game and, for one reason or another, we’re going to get the guy who is a first-year rookie with no pro experience. We’re going to give that player a chance. We’re going to give a player who has bounced around two or three different teams a chance. And we’re going to give a player who has played four or five years a chance.
“So you can start or revitalize careers, and it is an honor for me to be a part of that.”
Iron will, the quality Pendry seeks like a metal detector.
The nobility of job creation aside, Pendry knows The Alliance is onto something bigger. It starts with a quality product that’s fun to watch. It has the added benefit of competing against peers, famous ones. The other GMs. The coaches. The recognizable players.
“With the people in this league and the experience they have, I’m grateful and looking very forward to what’s in store.”
The cutting-edge aspects of The Alliance include gobs of data and access to real-time information about players’ performances. And beyond technical enhancements, there’s this impossible-to-argue upside: At a minimum, millions of fans of the sport get three more months of bona-fide football every year. To have that and also be among the visionaries constructing a platform for hundreds of careers to continue and bright stars to emerge, well, Pendry appreciates every bit of it. So do his peers.
“That’s the feeling of all of us in The Alliance.”