The Albany Empire, an arena football team owned by former NFL wideout Antonio Brown, has found a new coach amid a turbulent week that saw former head coach Damon Ware and several other players suspended following a public dispute over payments and an incident on the team’s bus.
The team announced on Twitter Wednesday that Tom Menas, who led Albany to back-to-back championships before being fired just before the start of the season, was back with the team after just three games.
“The Albany Empire is committed to its community. We thank YOU, our fans for believing in the essence of the Empire Team and the ‘Albany Way,’” the announcement on Twitter said. “Welcome Back, Coach Menas!”
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The announcement follows reports that Ware, who served as offensive coordinator before taking over for Menas, was suspended along with eight players on the team after claiming they had not been paid ahead of their Week 3 matchup against the Carolina Cobras.
According to the Times Union, there was also an incident on the bus ride home that resulted in kicker Michael Hall filing a police report.
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Menas was reintroduced as head coach at a press conference Wednesday, and he acknowledged the difficult road ahead.
“It’s an impossible task,” he said, via the Times Union. “So, what you do is you put great effort into it, and you say a lot of prayers. And you rely on a lot of relationships and a lot of people who have throughout the years said they want to play for you, and you call in your markers.”
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Menas will have to quickly assemble a roster ahead of Saturday’s game against the West Texas Warbirds.
He said suspended players, who were also released, can return if they choose and even requested that Ware stay on as offensive coordinator. But, according to the report, Ware accepted a position with the Orlando Predators.
“We’ve lost some players, players have gone on. Welcome to pro football everybody. That’s what happens,” Menas said. “You know these players because I brought those players to you. I will bring the next group to you as well.”