by Danny Jania
A published interview with a former NFL player and now coach of an arena football team.
|It's Still Football Season in Chicago
by Danny Jania
Who says football season is over? The season has just begun for Steve McMichael, the head coach of the Chicago Slaughter, a member of the Continental Indoor Football League or CIFL. Slaughter fans root for their team at the Sears Center, found at 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. There is not a bad seat in the whole stadium. It's a very intimate sports setting.
McMichael, a former NFL player helped lead the 1985 Bears to a Super Bowl championship. He was nicknamed Steve “Mongo” McMichael, which stuck for his wrestling days. His wrestling career led to him commentating for World Championship Wrestling. Now his career has come full circle back to football, this time as the coach.
Jania: How would you describe a Chicago Slaughter game to newcomers?
McMichael: Football fans of Chicago don't know what they're missing! This is the biggest family value of anything you can take the whole family to here in town and become a fan of. My favorite thing is to come out here and see the family's enjoyment.
The coach elaborates on some imagery of football as an American pass time. He remembers being moved as he looked on a father and son eating hot dogs in the stands of the Sears Center.
McMichael: The talent of our players rivals the NFL. It can be faster than the NFL and with only seven players on defense you have to be really opportunistic.
Jania: Do you exercise any differences in play strategy to coach indoor football?
McMichael: Most of the time we are playing base defense. Make them drive the ball and hope they [the opposing team] make a mistake. My montra in training is to apply the pressure. There are two things about pressure – you're either applying it, or you're feeling it.
Jania: What incentives or promotions do you offer for Slaughter fans?
McMichael: A fan will be chosen to kick a field goal and win a brand new car! We have thirty or forty balls at any game because they often fly into the stands and fans can keep them. At the end of games fans are welcome to come down to the field and meet the players. Kids will be all over. It's family friendly, not just fan friendly.
Jania: With the Chicago Rush [another arena football team] on hiatus for 2009, will that help or hurt the Chicago Slaughter?
McMichael: I think it will help. The fans do not have to miss out. They can come see the Slaughter – It's cheaper and more friendly.
Jania: In 1995 you changed careers to the world of professional wrestling. Which did you enjoy more, football or wrestling?
McMichael: I thought wrestling would replace that rush [from football] but it doesn't. I started missing it while I was on the air. “God sent me this opportunity,” my mother sometimes says. “When you need something, there it is.” When we came backstage and the crowd was yelling, the old juices came back. Thank God I'm back!
Jania: Does being so close to the action ever make you want to take up football again?
McMichael: No, being this close to the action and contact makes me glad I gave it everything I had when I could.
Jania: Are you looking forward to a good season in 2009?
McMichael: With the addition of a new Rush player on Slaughter, I'm looking forward to it being a great season and culminating with a championship.
Chicago Slaughter plays from March through June in twelve regular season games. Get your tickets now. Coach McMichael says his whole family are Slaughter fans, “how about you?”