The Continental Indoor Football League is not the NFL. And Chicago Slaughter head coach Steve “Mongo” McMichael couldn’t be happier about it.
“Let me tell you, the bonus babies that the players in the NFL have turned into …” McMichael said before pausing. “It’s like the real world. If you contract out some work, do you pay the contractor up front? It’s going to get done the way he wants to do it then, brother. It might get finished, it might not. But it’s definitely going to be done the way he wants to do it from then on.”
He said the players’ mentality is completely different in the CIFL.
“The guys at my level, they have to have jobs and they have to train and play football on top of that. Now there’s a guy who has a heart and soul for (football). These guys, they’re free agents.”
Besides the difference in attitude on the field, there are significant discrepancies in the rules, as well.
In the CIFL, each team puts seven players at a time out on the field, as opposed to most indoor leagues, which allow eight. According to the league’s website, teams can line up in “almost any ‘normal’ formation,” with linemen eligible to catch passes. The league does not use a rebound net, but otherwise, its rules and field dimensions are nearly identical to those of the Arena Football League.
Nevertheless, McMichael says the similarities to the NFL are there, particularly those comparisons to the infamous ’85 Bears defense, in which he played a key role.
“Since we only play seven men, the interior of the defense, it’s three defensive linemen on their three offensive linemen,” McMichael said. “It’s like a nose guard and two three-techniques and the MLB and the safety. That’s the interior of the 46 defense, man.”
The Slaughter are led by McMichael’s pick to be the league MVP, Russ Michna, who threw 78 touchdown passes in just 12 games, and a strong receiving corps. McMichael said he would be more than willing to put his wideouts up against those at any level.
“I talked to Jerry Angelo at the Bear golf tournament,” McMichael said. “I said, ‘Look, (Bobby) Sippio and Donovan Morgan can make your team right now. I know you want to try to develop a young kid as your second-stringer, but maybe you ought to take a look at Russ Michna as your quarterback.”
“He said: ‘Give me your home phone number,’ ” McMichael laughed.