When the owners of the UFL's Hartford Colonials hired Jerry Glanville as head coach and general manager, they got a 69-year-old former player, NFL and college head coach, TV analyst and Nascar and Automobile Racing Club of America driver and owne. They also got a man known for such eccentricities as leaving tickets at will-call for Elvis Presley, dressing only in black like Johnny Cash and driving cars favored by the late actor James Dean. According to Glanville, this is a match made in football heaven.
By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
(Posted March 22, 2011)
The United Football League is a fledgling operation entering its third pro season. However, despite financial challenges, its roster features several head coaches with stellar NFL resumes, including Jim Fassel, Dennis Green and, most recently, Marty Schottenheimer and Jerry Glanville, who is both head coach and GM for the Hartford Colonials.
Glanville's experience includes head coach of the NFL's Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans, from 1986-1990) and the Atlanta Falcons (1990-1993); and head coach at Portland State University (2007-2009). In addition, he has worked as an analyst for HBO (Inside the NFL), CBS (The NFL Today, NFL on CBS) and Fox.
During his time with Atlanta, the team drafted Brett Favre in the second round and after the season traded him to the Green Bay Packers. Stories regarding Glanville's role in why Favre was bypassed in the first round and then subsequently sent packing, insists Glanville, are inaccurate.
Glanville is a man of many words, which means social media is right up is alley. He has his own Web site, his own YouTube channel and, of course, a Twitter account. After being hired by the UFL, his tweets included:
• "Welcome to all of my new followers! I'm back in black."
• "Life without football, isn't life. Spread the word."
• "I'll be at Max Burger in West Hartford 7 pm tonight. 1st 10 fans to show up are invited to dinner."
• "It is snowing right now. The UFL promised me good weather!"
However, what arguably were his most famous words came when he was head coach of the the Oilers. Following a play in which he vehemently disagreed with a call, he berated the offending official: “This isn’t college. You’re not at a homecoming . . . This is the NFL, which stands for ‘Not For Long’ when you make them horse-bleep calls.” Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, which captured the moment for posterity, called this one of his five favorite quotes from a coach.
Glanville had a lot to say during a Q&A on March 21 when he was introduced in Hartford as the new head coach and GM of the Colonials. That included, but was not limited to, the NFL, the lockout, Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Brett Favre and the UFL, which is scheduled to open its season in August with the Colonials, two-time defending champion Las Vegas Locomotives, Omaha Nighthawks, Sacramento Mountain Lions and Virginia Destroyers.
• You last coached at the pro level in 1993. What are you bringing to the UFL that would win football games?
Jerry Glanville: You still have to run the football for attitude and throw the ball for points. They invented the term 'smash-mouth football' because of our teams in Houston. Can we do that [in Hartford]? I don't know. You have to do what your players' strengths are. Don't take them out of their strengths because you are bullheaded and have a plan.
• You have your own Web site and a Twitter account. How important has the use of social media and technology become to head coaches?
JG: Years ago, I wouldn't have thought that's what 'tweeting' meant. [Laughs.] My whole nomenclature has changed. I had to get out a [dictionary] to look it up. With cell phones, Facebook, you have be savvy enough to realize that social media is how people are going to be connected and stay connected. It has changed how we do everything. I never thought I would be sitting at a computer tracking film to rate a player.
"My son Justin's band, The Avett Brothers, closed the Grammys with Bob Dylan. That show was the first time I saw Lady Gaga. I got a little education that night."
• Does this make the coach's job more challenging?
JG: All these changes are for the better. I'm a coach who tells players, 'Don't go by what used to be. Used to is not what's happening now. People always ask me, 'What church are you looking for?' I'm looking for the church of what's happening now . . . [Just then, Glanville's cell phone rings] Oh, there's my cell phone. [The ring tone is] 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door' by Bob Dylan. Better shut it off.
• Speaking of music, you used to leave tickets for Elvis, but the UFL is seeking a young demographic so would you leave tickets for Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga?
JG: [Laughs.] You know, I watched the Grammy Awards. And my son Justin's band, The Avett Brothers, closed the show with Bob Dylan [and Mumford & Sons singing 'Maggie's Farm']. To see that I had to watch the whole show, and that's the first time I saw Lady Gaga. I got a little education that night.
• If there is a lockout and no NFL season, do you think you would be able to sign some good players?
JG: Whether the NFL is playing or not there are good football players out there. The fun of this league is that this is not a trick or a gadget. This is not a marketing strategy. This is good football. That's what I love about the UFL. This is all based on playing good football. Having good coaches. That's why it reminds me of when Bud Adams and Lamar Hunt started the AFL and said let's get good players, good coaches and play good football.
• Do you see the UFL as a good option for fans if the NFL players go on strike?
JG: I think what we have to offer, whether they strike or not, is we have a price that shows we are interested in the individual. We are not using a corporate sell to come see us. You don't have to give us $5,000 for the right to buy tickets. We are not fooling anybody. We want you and your family to come to our games. It sort of reminds me of the NFL when I went into it in 1974. People bought tickets to the Detroit Lions in twos and fours. That's how people came to the games. They could buy two tickets [and not have to spent a lot of money on a ticket package]. And I think that's what our league offers. You don't have to do a lot or spend a lot to come and enjoy yourself.
• In 1991 when you were head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, the team drafted Brett Favre, but he was traded to the Green Bay Packers after one season. The story is that you didn't want him on the team. Why didn't that work out between you two, considering the career he went on to have?
JG: The thing is, you have to draw the line on certain things. The funny thing is, I recently went down to speak at the Hattiesburg [Mississippi, where Favre lives] Quarterback Club. And one of the people there was Brett Favre's agent [Bus Cook]. He was the first man since that happened who stood up and told the truth. He told exactly what happened. So I said to him, 'Where were you 20 years ago?' And he said, 'It's time we set the record straight.' As a football coach, I would never tell you everything that happened with a player, all the personal details. So I would suggest you call Brett Favre's agent, because he's the guy who can really tell you what went down and why.
[Editor's note: During an interview at the Hattiesburg Quarterback Club last September, Glanville told a local reporter: "The deal that happened was that management wanted me to draft [Favre] in the first round. I said, no, I have to get a slot receiver. There was a guy at Colorado named [Mike] Pritchard. They said, if you don't take Favre [in the first round] he won't be there. And I said, oh, I think he'll be there. Well, everybody has an opinion. Like body parts, everybody's got some. So I took Pritchard. And when we came up in the second round [Favre] was still there. So I was thrilled to death that we got Favre AND the slot [receiver]. We got everything. As the years went one, everybody said we didn't want [Favre]. I always wanted him. I just didn't want him in the first round . . . [After the season] management told me they could get a first round [pick] for Chris Miller, our other quarterback. I thought that would go down. [The next day] they said [Green Bay] wouldn't take Chris Miller, but they they did give us a first round for Favre. As the head coach, I had no power to do any of the trades, and I didn't have the power to stop the trade or make the trade.]
• There are other former NFL coaches in the UFL, including Jim Fassell (who has won two UFL titles with Las Vegas) and Dennis Green (Sacramento). Have you spoken with them about their UFL experiences?
JG: I heard from Jim Fassell. He said to me, 'Jerry, welcome to the league. Everything is about to change.' That is his quote. I hope we can change things, and all for the better.
• How did this opportunity come about?
JG: It started at the Senior Bowl [in January 2010]. I was down in Mobile because Sports Illustrated wanted me to watch a guy named [Tim] Tebow. While I was at the practice, coaches I worked with and players I coached said, 'How about coming with us tonight, there are going to be people from this new football league, the United Football League. We think you should go with us.' I hadn't thought about coaching. But while I was over there I met the commissioner, Michael Huyghue. While I was talking with him he said, 'Why don't you come over in a couple of weeks to the league office in Jacksonville.' So after a couple of weeks I went over there and spent the day with the commissioner. Rick Mueller [former NFL executive now a top UFL executive] was there. And I spent the day with them. As I got on the airplane to go home, I thought, I wish I had those two guys with me at every NFL job I had. They're better than anybody I've worked with. So I was very impressed with what they were saying about the league and that they were involved with the league.
• That was a year ago. What happen after that?
JG: About three weeks ago the commissioner called me and said there was [a team] owner he wanted me to meet in New York. So I said okay. When I flew into New York and I didn't know anything about Hartford. At the meeting, [Hartford Colonials owner] Bill Mayer was there, [Colonials president] Bill Peterson was there. They said they wanted to talk to me about joining the team. As we did the interview process, they asked me some great questions and I asked them questions, and we told each other a lot about ourselves and who we were. I kind of liked their honesty. 'We have a new football league, we don't know if we'll make it, we're trying to make it work.'
• Did that throw up a red flag about the future of the UFL?
JG: Well, I had worked for Bud Adams [owner of the NFL's Tennessee Titans]. And Bud Adams told me a story in his basement about how he wanted to buy an NFL team, and they wouldn't let him. So he called Lamar Hunt and they started [the American Football League]. Working with people like that, I saw the same grit in Bill Mayer. I saw the same thing in his eyes I had seen in Bud Adams. So when people say to me what are you doing this for . . . Later on in my career I worked for Ralph Wilson [owner of the NFL's Buffalo Bills]. And I saw Bud Adams and I saw Ralph Wilson in this man I was interviewing with as far as enjoyment in what he was doing, a passion for football. I also worked at the Detroit Lions for a guy named William Clay Ford. William Clay Ford would DIE before he'd ever tell you a lie. And that's who I felt I was talking to with Bill Mayer. I could see all their qualities that are special in him.
• Was the deal made during that meeting?
JG: When I walked out of the meeting, I was not offered the job. In fact, I went back to the airport. But I thought the minute I walked out of the building, if the owner, if Bill Mayer wanted me, I would take the job. Because I know he has the grit of a Bud Adams and there's no question he has the integrity and honesty of of a William Clay Ford. So I went home, I was really excited about [the interview] and my wife Brenda, who has been with me for 35 years, knew that I wanted the job. And like all football coaches your wife is going to be a big part of it. So she said to me, 'You better not wait for a call. You better start hiring coaches. You better get the staff ready.' The commissioner called me, I believe it was on [March 15] and Bill Mayer called me on St. Patrick's Day. We were all glad we came together. That's how you end up here. You judge you're job by who you are surrounded by. And I would not be surrounded by anybody else. I now have the best football job in the United States because of the people who are around me.
• Have you had a chance to evaluate the players in this year's NFL draft to get a feel of who might move into the UFL due to the lockout or because the UFL might be their best option?
JG: I have been looking at the seniors. I know who is coming into the draft. I know who the best players are, the best kickers, punters, running backs. As far as players leaving the other league, I haven't looked at that at all. You may be talking to the only guy who coached in the NFL during all three previous strikes (1974, 1982, 1987). I was there. I know the lay of the land.
"If you've seen the Eminem movie, Eight Mile. Well, Smokey Robinson, Jerry Glanville, Eminem and Kid Rock, we all grew up in the same projects."
• Do you have any thoughts about how you can get more fans from Hartford and the surrounding areas to go to Colonials games?
JG: I've spent the day with people who are going to help me. We have 10% unemployment rate here. We are going to find an unemployed family and I personally will buy them tickets to games. I asked some local bankers today to do the same. I feel that just because you are unemployed doesn't mean you can't go out and enjoy yourself and take your family to a pro football game. Those are the types of things we are going to do in this great city.
• Have you had an opportunity to see Hartford and interact with the fans?
JG: I haven't seen the fans yet. But I have seen three seasons. It felt like summer when I got here. Then it turned to winter and started to snow. Now we're moving into spring. And I've only been here one day! It reminds me of when I coached at Buffalo. I could look out of my office window and see four seasons go by. So I'm used to this. I grew up in Detroit. If you've seen the Eminem movie, Eight Mile. Well, Smokey Robinson, Jerry Glanville, Eminem and Kid Rock, we all grew up in the same projects. And when you live in that basic grey, you enjoy every day you can with sunshine and say, 'Thank the Lord.' Because not every day is full of sunshine.
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