Continuing 99Yards’s look at the new Alliance of American Football (AAF), we throw the spotlight onto the Birmingham Iron.
Birmingham, Alabama took its name from its English counterpart. The city became known as the “Pittsburgh of the South” because of its iron and steel industry.
The new AAF franchise takes its name from the strength, endurance and power of “iron”, the foundation of America’s toughness.
The team will play their games at Legion Field, home to the University of Alabama Birmingham Blazers. The capacity is 71,594 so it will be interesting to see how many turn out for the new spring football league.
Legion Field was well known for hosting the regular season-ending rivalry game between Alabama and Auburn each year from 1948 to 1988. Because of Birmingham’s iron and steel industry, the game became known as the “Iron Bowl.”
Forged on Iron
Birmingham’s executive vice president of football operations Trey Brown acknowledged, “I have been trying to find players that will symbolise what we are – hard-working, strong, passionate, dependable, love the game,”
General Manager Joe Pendry emphasised. “And now that name is what we’re selling. We want our players to exemplify that – Birmingham Iron.”
“We have the team colours, and they are going to be a reflection of the Iron,” Pendry said. “They’ll be black, dark grey and a silver and a light grey. Part of that comes from the floss that you make steel with, so it all goes hand-in-hand with being the Birmingham Iron.”
“This is an amazing opportunity to build something special here in Birmingham and the work is already underway,” Pendry added. “Football is king in Alabama and we know when it comes time for our first snap, we’ll have a loyal and energetic fan base behind us. We are committed to putting a product on the field that they will be proud to support.”
The Head Coach
The Iron’s Tim Lewis is the only head coach in the AAF who has not previously held a head coach position. He was the New York Giants defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2006. Lewis last worked in football as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive backs coach.
The league’s co-founder Bill Polian called the NFL experience gained by Lewis invaluable for the AAF and that Lewis was deserving of a head coaching opportunity.
The Cleveland Browns selected running back Trent Richardson third overall in the 2012 NFL draft. That was the same spot he finished in the previous year’s Heisman Trophy voting and he was expected to have a long career in pro-football. It didn’t happen.
He was traded to the Colts despite rushing for 950 yards in his rookie season. Although we are talking about the Browns, the trade occurred unusually two weeks into the 2013 season. It didn’t work out in Indianapolis. He was waived and picked up by the Raiders but released before the final exhibition game.
Following an unsuccessful few months with the Ravens, Richardson had a short adventure with the Canadian Football League in 2017.
Chris Davis, who is already a football legend in Alabama, will join Richardson.
Fourth-ranked Auburn (10-1) played the two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide (11-0) in the 2013 Iron Bowl. With one second left and the game tied 28-28, Alabama’s coach Nick Saban called for a 57-yard field goal attempt.
The kick fell short and Davis brought it out for Auburn. He returned it 109 yards for the winning score and to make an instant impact in America’s sporting history referred to as the “Kick Six.”
David will be hoping for more opportunities to pull the irons out of the fire. So will his new team in Birmingham.
Images courtesy of AAF.com