Arizona Hotshots GM Phil Savage happy to see AAF come to life
Arizona Hotshots general manager Phil Savage knew he had to team up with head coach Rick Neuheisel as soon as he found out they would both be involved in the Alliance of American Football.
Savage and Neuheisel have the Hotshots in a great spot in the league’s inaugural season with a 1-0 record after beating the Salt Lake Stallions 38-22 on Sunday and ranked first in the USA Today’s AAF power rankings.
“To see our team come to life here over last six weeks or so and then go out and win a game, it was super exciting,” Savage told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “We’ll see if we can keep the momentum going but we like our team.”
Savage and Neuheisel worked together at UCLA in 1990 and the chemistry between the two has led to instantaneous success.
“I said look, ‘I want to do this, but only if you’re the coach,’ and he said, ‘Well I want to do it but only if you’re the GM,'” Savage said.
The duo has assembled one of the most powerful teams in the league.
“(Quarterback) John Wolford, a virtual no-name to most fans,” Savage said. “You saw our offensive staff wrap a system, an offensive philosophy, around him and he showcased himself to the tune of four touchdown passes and 275 yards. So we think he’s really going to play well and we think Rick has a lot to do with that.”
Savage also sees a passion in his team that has resembled the product on the field.
“Every single guy on our team has been cut, fired, released, traded or told ‘you’re not good enough,'” he said. “So there’s a real humbleness to our team, a real hunger from these guys that want to prove they deserve another chance to go to the NFL.”
Savage’s experience with the NFL Draft
As the former general manager of the Cleveland Browns and the former executive director of the Senior Bowl, Savage has had his hand in the NFL Draft process from multiple points of view.
With Arizona’s local NFL team holding the No. 1 overall pick, there has been a lot of speculation as to what direction the Cardinals will go.
The link between new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, who recently declared his intent to play football instead of baseball, has only fueled that speculation.
“Now you have the agent world, plus you have the media world. There’s no doubt you can reach out to one of your friends in the media and say, ‘Hey pop this out there, help us out a little bit,’ and they’ll do it,” Savage said. “To create a little bit of the smoke about, ‘Hey we’re going to take this player, we’re interested in that guy.'”