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1 month ago

Birmingham Iron promises to feed Alabama’s appetite for football into the spring

The Birmingham Iron has good news for those already lamenting the end of football season: The Alliance of American Football (AAF) kicks off in Legion Field in 40 days.

Birmingham Iron coach Tim Lewis and General Manager Joe Pendry held a press conference today to let football fans know that pigskin passions can be satiated after the College Football Playoff and the Super Bowl.

“There are people who want to watch football,” Pendry said. “I was always one of those. I don’t want to turn on one of those other things that happen to be filling a void.”

The preparations begin this weekend for the Iron’s first game against the Memphis Express at 1 p.m. on Feb. 10 at Legion Field. The team whittled down a roster of 85 players to 75 at a minicamp in December and will hold a camp beginning Saturday in San Antonio that will cut the roster down to the final 52 that will take the field next month.

“It may not be the 52 best athletes. It’s going to be the 52 best football players,” Lewis said. “The tools are there. The coaching staff is prepared. Now it’s just a matter of putting the team together under that pressure of training camp and under our watchful eye, we will get this team to know what to do and how to do it.”

Most of the players on the roster had a taste of the NFL and are trying to get back there.

“We sought guys who have potential to go back and play in the NFL,” Pendry said. “For one reason or another, they didn’t make it and they want to continue to play.”

Lewis said the experience level among the current roster varies widely.

At minicamp, when Lewis asked the players with 10 years or more in the NFL to stand up, only kicker Nick Novak was standing. By contrast, 10 players stood up when Lewis asked for those who were experiencing their first professional football camp.

Lewis said the great thing about the players who have been in the NFL before is they are willing to put in the work necessary to get back.

“They understand the urgency of now,” he said. “They understand the urgency of the coach’s voice.”

Pendry said that hunger is what they were after in putting together the current roster.

“If you don’t have a burning desire to play and a burning desire to get better, we don’t want you representing our area or the Birmingham Iron,” he said.

Pendry said the allocation the AAF uses has helped the Birmingham Iron build a quality roster.

In addition to getting access to players from football schools in Alabama, the Iron gets the pick of players from Mississippi State, Maryland, North Carolina State and Missouri. The Iron also gets access to NFL players cut from the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns, the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots, Pendry said.

That has helped the Birmingham Iron fill its roster with names that many in Alabama will recognize. Former Crimson Tide players Chris Black (wide receiver), Leon Brown (guard), Xzavier Dickson (linebacker), Brandon Greene (tackle), J.C. Hassenauer (center), Dominick Jackson (tackle), Korren Kirven (tackle), Cole Mazza (long snapper), Trent Richardson (running back), Blake Sims (quarterback) and Bradley Sylve (defensive back) are on the current roster.

Former Auburn players on the roster include Quan Bray (wide receiver), Chris Davis (defensive back), Trovon Reed (defensive back), Robenson Therezie (defensive back) and Ryan White (defensive back).

There are also players from UAB (Chris Schleuger), South Alabama (Braedon Bowman and Wes Saxton), Troy (Jonathan Massaquoi), Jacksonville State (Jonathan Hagler), Miles (Lonnie Outlaw), Tuskegee (DeVozea Felton) and Samford (Shaheed Salmon).

Many of the 11 coaches also have connections to Alabama schools as does Pendry, who came to the University of Alabama in 2007 as the offensive line coach s part of Nick Saban’s original staff.

Lewis said he’s excited by what he has seen from Trent Richardson thus far.

“We have a running back – you guys might know the name ‘Trent Richardson,’ not foreign to anybody in here – the guy is fantastic,” Lewis said. “He’s bought in. He’s all in 100 percent. He’s really excited about the opportunity. I can’t wait to see him go full speed. We’ve been out in shorts and he’s already got the hair on the back of my neck standing up.”

Lewis said the goal coming out of training camp is to have a team ready to contend for the first AAF championship.

“We’ve all come together and put together a package and a plan to get this team, this city, this state a championship,” he said. “You’re going to love the way the Birmingham Iron plays the game. I’m really excited about leading our team to a championship.”

Pendry, who coached in the former USFL, said one of the problems with past spring football leagues was “teams hogging the quarterbacks.” A quarterback draft was intended to address that concern and the Birmingham Iron got its first pick of Luis Perez, a former Texas A&M-Commerce and Los Angeles Rams player and winner of the Harlon Hill Trophy, which goes to the most outstanding player in NCAA Division II.

Lewis didn’t want to give away much about the team’s offensive and defensive schemes, but did say the offense will be a balance of run and pass and they will use the pass to set up the run.

“The combination of athletes that we will put on the field offensively … I’m not trying to create any bulletin board material for anybody, but I would say as a former defensive coordinator in the NFL, I wouldn’t like to play against us,” he said.

Defensively, Lewis said they will focus on stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback.

Pendry said watching the Iron take shape has him amped for the inaugural season.

“I’ve had the good fortune of being around football for a long time,” he said. “I’m as damned excited as I’ve ever been about this one, too.”

Despite the excitement, oddsmakers aren’t giving the Birmingham Iron much of a chance at winning it all. Lewis said he’s to blame.

“The fact of the matter is I’m the only one with a team who hasn’t been a head coach at any level before,” Lewis said. “But I like our chances. They don’t know our players. Our team will have more to say about that than the oddsmakers.”

Pendry said the job now is to give Birmingham and Alabama a team football fans can get behind.

“If we do our job, if we put a good product on the field … we will attract the fans.”

Watch the entire press conference below.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

34 mins ago

Auburn Police officer shot in the line of duty

An Auburn Police Department officer was shot in the line of duty Friday evening.

Sources reportedly confirmed the shooting to WVTM. The condition of the officer was not immediately known.

The shooting occurred at the Dollar General near Niffer’s Place off of Opelika Road.

WSFA was on the scene live in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, which resulted in a massive police presence. The suspect is believed to still be at-large, with a “manhunt” underway.


This comes after Birmingham Police Department Sgt. Wytasha Carter and Mobile Police Department Officer Sean Tuder were shot and killed in the line of duty in recent weeks.

This is breaking news and may be updated.

Update 8:00 p.m.:

WSFA posted a new live stream.

Update 8:15 p.m.:

Police administrators told reporters the incident occurred shortly after 5:30 p.m. as the officer pulled the suspect’s vehicle over responding to an armed robbery call. The officer was talking and alert when he left the scene. More on his condition was not released by law enforcement on the scene. The officer was shot “multiple” times. His name has also not been released.

The suspect is Christopher James Wallace. He is 38 years old. A female was in the vehicle with Wallace at the time of the shooting. Her name is not being released at this time.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Del Marsh on Trump declaration: ‘It is an emergency — It is about protecting this country’

Alabama Senate leader Del Marsh (R-Anniston) voiced his support for President Donald Trump’s latest action on border security while blaming Democrats for their inability to fix the long-standing issue.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, Marsh said he supports Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency along the Mexican border.


Marsh explained that the urgency of the threat made it necessary.

“It is an emergency,” Marsh stated. “It is about protecting this country. That’s where the threat is. The threat is the southern border. All our borders should be secure. But the threat right now is the southern border. No one can deny that.”

When asked where border security should rank among the country’s priorities, Marsh said border security should be number one.

And he expressed frustration at how policy-makers have approached the issue.

“I cannot for the life of me understand how people in Congress can put people who are not citizens of this country above our citizens’ welfare, and that’s what I see happening,” he remarked.

He cited a single reason why, in his mind, the issue of border security has gone on for so long without resolution.

“Politics,” Marsh declared.

Specifically, he believes Democrats view illegal immigration as providing a pool of potential new voters and that has threatened national security.

“They have put that above the safety of the citizens of this country,” he said. “Democrats are basically saying, ‘Don’t worry about a process. Come on! We’re your buddies!’”

Marsh also pointed out the fact that he has already filed a bill in the Alabama legislature to allow Alabamians to help build the wall.

The legislation would provide taxpayers the option of checking a box on their tax returns should they want to donate to We Build the Wall, Inc.

Marsh has already donated to the fund himself.

“It’s about sending a message to this president, President Trump, that we support him and by sending these dollars to build the wall, showing our support for him,” he explained. “I believe it and I think the people of Alabama believe that security is the most important thing, the most important issue at this point in time. We want to support the wall, and we want to see the wall built.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

2 hours ago

Alabama Supreme Court reinstates Alabama Memorial Preservation Act

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Friday that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the state’s motion to stay a recent “[erroneous]” Jefferson County Circuit Court judgment that declared the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 to be unconstitutional.

This means the law, which prohibits the removal and alteration of monuments more than 40 years old on public property, will still be in effect while the state appeals the decision. Marshall requested the stay three weeks ago.

“I am pleased that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the State’s motion to stay the Circuit Court’s ruling,” the attorney general said in a statement. “We think that U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly demonstrates that the Circuit Court erred in striking down the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. Thus, we asked the Alabama Supreme Court to preserve the status quo regarding the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park until the Court rules on our appeal.”


It was reported that the City of Birmingham was considering removing the monument at the center of the controversy after the law was struck down. The Sailors Monument has been covered by a large black wall since August 2017, near the end of former Mayor William Bell’s tenure.

“The Supreme Court’s stay allows the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act to remain in effect until the Supreme Court resolves this appeal over the Act’s constitutionality. We continue to hold that the Circuit Court erred when it ruled that the U.S. Constitution grants cities free speech rights that they can enforce against the State,” Marshall added. “For more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has held just the opposite, recognizing that ‘a political subdivision, created by the state for the better ordering of government, has no privileges or immunities under the federal constitution which it may invoke in opposition to the will of its creator.’ We look forward to presenting these arguments to the Alabama Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court’s order Friday also stayed the accrual of any financial penalties under the law.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

David Cole departs Alabama Farmers Federation for BCA

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is adding another star to its governmental affairs team.

Shortly after breaking BCA’s hiring of Molly Cagle from Manufacture Alabama, sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News that Alabama Farmers Federation Director of State Affairs David Cole is coming on board at the same time.

Cole, like Cagle, is joining BCA’s governmental affairs staff effective February 28, just in time for the March 5 start of the state legislative session. Most recently, Cole spearheaded the federation’s lobbying efforts in the Alabama House of Representatives.


Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan sent out an email announcing Cole’s departure and thanking him for his commitment to Alabama agriculture — the state’s biggest industry. Pinyan also outlined how the staff would be moved around in response to Cole leaving.

Director of External Affairs Matthew Durdin – and his staff members, Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts and administrative assistant Jessica Mims – will now be involved in some state governmental affairs work. Former Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who has been working as a political consultant for the federation, will now add governmental affairs work on contract.

An official announcement with details of the federation’s staff changes is expected to be released in the coming week.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt announced the two major additions in an internal email sent out to the business council’s leadership Friday evening. Britt took the reigns of BCA January 2. Cagle and Cole are her first hires.

The email detailed that Cole is being named senior vice president of governmental affairs and Cagle vice president of governmental affairs.

“These two additions to our team position the BCA to serve our members and advocate effectively on behalf of the business community,” Britt wrote.

Mark Colson, who most recently filled in as BCA’s interim president after serving as chief of staff and senior vice president for governmental affairs, will continue to serve the organization in his new role as senior advisor through the transition period.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Molly Cagle joining BCA from Manufacture Alabama

One of Alabama’s rising stars in the governmental affairs world is on the move.

Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that Manufacture Alabama (MA) Director of External Affairs Molly Cagle has accepted a governmental affairs position with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). While an exact title has yet to be released, Cagle is expected to bolster BCA’s legislative affairs team.

The hire marks the first in BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt’s tenure. She was hired by the organization’s executive committee in December and took office January 2.

Cagle’s last day at MA is February 20, according to an email from her to the association’s membership obtained by Yellowhammer News.


“My time at Manufacture Alabama over the last four and a half years has been incredibly rewarding. The friendships, lessons, and advice are things that I cherish and will take with me throughout my career,” she wrote.

Cagle comes to BCA with an impressive track record in legislative work, including past service as the Senate Liaison for Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh. She received her bachelor’s in Political Science, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism, from Troy University.

Named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “Power and Influence: Who’s Next?” list for 2018, Cagle will be a major addition to BCA as the organization refocuses on its pro-jobs mission of “making a sweet home for business” in Alabama.

Cagle’s email noted, “As I prepare to take on my new role, I want to assure everyone that the staff at Manufacture Alabama has taken the steps to make my departure as seamless as possible. A special thank you to George Clark for his guidance and support not only over the last several years but also throughout this process.”

The state legislative session begins March 5.

As of Friday at 2:30 p.m., BCA had taken down its online staff directory. An official announcement of the hire is expected in the coming days.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

Cagle is being named BCA’s vice president of governmental affairs.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn