New homegrown AFL Coach

By Etheria Modacure

Bob McMillen, named one of the 20 greatest players in Arena Football League history by the league, was named the second head coach in Chicago Rush history on Sept. 14.

After the sudden departure of the franchise’s only head coach, Mike Hohensee, the team didn’t have to look far to find their next leader, according to team president Gene Nudo.

McMillen said he is excited to coach a team in the AFL he expressed passion for.

“Being only [an assistant and linebackers coach] for two years before being named the head coach is something very unusual and doesn’t happen that much,” McMillen said. “People must’ve saw how hard I worked.”

The former linebacker and fullback played in the AFL for 12 seasons. He also won three ArenaBowls with the Arizona Rattlers, San Jose SaberCats and the Rush. He is the second player to win a championship with three different teams in

AFL history.

The Rush has not missed the playoffs since joining the AFL in 2001. McMillen said the pressure to continue the streak isn’t deterring him from keeping the consistency within the organization present.

“I don’t feel any added pressure,” said McMillen, a native of Elmhurst, Ill. “It’s my job to get [this team] into the playoffs every year. [It’s a] dream come true to stay in my hometown and coach a professional football team.”

Nudo, who worked with the Dallas Vigilantes last season, said the choice of McMillen was an easy one. Nudo became the Rush’s new president and general manager on Sept. 9.

“He understands the game,” Nudo said. “When you’re named one of the 20 greatest players in the league, obviously you know the ins and outs of the games.”

The importance of having a head coach with local ties to Chicago and the understanding of how football should be played made McMillen more attractive to the Rush, according to Nudo.

Nudo said he understands what’s at stake for the Rush in regard to  remaining consistent and not missing the postseason in 2011 for the first time.

“Pressure is the same for every team, every year,” Nudo said. “You’re goal is to win a championship.”

Having played in the AFL as recently as 2007, the relationships McMillen built with teammates and other players around the league helped the Rush in their free agency pursuits, according to McMillen.

“A lot of [players] are calling us up and asking to play under me,” McMillen said. “I really respect that and [I’m] thankful that [players] look at me that way.”

According to McMillen, the players he’s truly looking for have to be ready to bring their lunch pails to work and have that blue-collar mentality. He said he doesn’t want selfish players because “[they’re] usually the [players] that bring down your football team.”

The value of patience was learned from former Rush head coach  Hohensee, according to McMillen.

He said he learned to not get upset at mistakes made on the field or at penalties because the game can change

without hesitation. Arena football games are usually high-scoring affairs.

The ups and downs of coaching a football team next season have McMillen ready

to start.

“I’m excited about everything with this position,” McMillen said. “I wish the season started tomorrow. I’m ready to go

right now.”