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Published on March 18th, 2013 | by

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Chicago Rush Media Day 2013

Rush Helmet

The new helmet design for the 2013 Chicago Rush.

Today from the Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont, the 2013 Chicago Rush along with coaches and executives were introduced to the media for the upcoming season. This was an occasion that almost did not happen.

After the suspension of the 2009 season, the original owners of the Rush {business partners of Walter Payton} put the team up for sale. With no potential buyers in sight, the league purchased the team and owned it through the 2012 season. Between 2010 and 2012, the Rush became the largest market franchise in the AFL after the New York Dragons and Los Angeles Avengers folded.

The league wanted to sell to a local owner but nobody wanted to buy. The league did not want to fold the team because the Rush is now the largest franchise in the Arena Football League. After the 2012 season, AFL commissioner Jerry Kurz began aggressively pursuing a buyer for the Chicago Rush.

In November, local businesswoman Julee White had purchased the team for an undisclosed amount of money. Ms. White had said upon the sale that she had big plans for the franchise. Among those plans was to change the color scheme and team logo, give players pay raises, and spoke of a potential move to the United Center.

Unfortunately, Ms. White’s ownership was short-lived for reasons that are still largely unknown. In January ownership of the team was turned back over to the AFL. By this point there were rumors of the team folding without a local owner. Literally in the 11th hour, current owner David Staral purchased the franchise and saved the team from being contracted from the league.

He bought the team in February and has worked tirelessly to make sure that the Rush will be able to play the 2013 AFL season. He organized the team by assembling a roster at the last minute, putting together a new front office, keeping the coaching staff intact, and making sure the finances were in place.

So here we are just five days away from kicking off the 2013 season. Everything seems to be in place, and the fans will be able to cheer for the Rush this year. Some of last years key players are gone. Quarterback Russ Michna and fullback/linebacker Russell Monk have retired from the game.

Also gone are backup quarterback Luke Drone, wide receivers Jared Perry, Terrance Turner, and Marquis Hamilton, offensive lineman T.J. Watkins, and kicker Mike Salerno. They are just some of the many players from last season who departed. The doubt surrounding the offseason played a major role in all of this.

The good news however is that Reggie Gray, Jorrick Calvin, Semaj Moody, J.J. Payne, Derek Walker, and Darrell Campbell are still on board. We were informed at the event that the Rush managed to re-sign defensive back Vic Hall at the last minute. Kelvin Morris has also returned to the team.

During the offseason, Morris had signed with the Orlando Predators. He did this because of the questions regarding the future of the Rush franchise. But once it was revealed that the Rush would be coming back for 2013, both teams managed to workout a deal to bring “K-Mo” back into the fold.

So now that everything is in place, here are some of the new details about the Rush….

For starters the team has changed the color scheme but has kept the original logo. Gone now is the old purple and grey scheme that the team wore from 2001-2012, in it’s place is a collection of red, white, and blue.

Here are what the new uniforms will look like:

Rush Jerseys

 

The team also hinted at a possible partnership with an NFL franchise but no further details were revealed. There is also a new marketing strategy in place, the Rush will be using the new Twitter hashtag of #REDemption for the 2013 season. This is just the beginning of what the Rush front office has in store.

More details will be revealed throughout the season. The AFL has a new television deal with CBS Sports Network, with the potential to have this year’s Arena Bowl on the main CBS network. The AFL had previously had a deal with the NFL Network from 2010-2012.

The team is also looking to ink both a local television and radio deal to broadcast the games. For now, the Rush will continue to stream the games online via the team’s website. WSCR-AM’s Les Grobstein will once again be the play-by-play man.

After the festivities I spoke with key members of the Rush franchise, starting with new owner David Staral:

I also had a conversation with head coach Bob McMillen:

Then I talked to the returning Kelvin Morris one-on-one:

Of course I couldn’t end the day without talking to fan favorite Reggie Gray:

The Rush will kickoff the 2013 season this Saturday night against the Iowa Barnstormers. The game will take place at Allstate Arena just after 7pm. You can follow on Twitter during that game for updates @GabeSalgado82 #Q101Sports #REDemption

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