Former Husker Cory Ross was interested in the business end of bringing an indoor football franchise to Lincoln.
Then, he got the urge to put on the pads again.
The Lincoln Haymakers held a news conference Tuesday at the Apothecary on Eighth Street, announcing that Ross and another former Husker running back, Marlon Lucky, had been signed to contracts.
Ross, who previously played for the Baltimore Ravens as well as teams in the United Football League and Canadian Football League, was working in Denver. He received a phone call from the Haymakers director of player personnel, Justin Hayes.
“We didn’t sign Cory the first day we met him,” Hayes said. “We talked on the phone, and we spent time sitting down together. Cory wanted to coach for us and work in the front office. He kind of wanted to step away from the game.
“I said, ‘Why don’t you strap it up one more time? You haven’t played indoor football yet.’ And he said, 'You’re kind of intriguing me.'”
So in addition to playing for the Haymakers, Ross will assist with player personnel, as well as sales and marketing of the team.
“When I called him today he said he was excited to be part of building a franchise from the bottom up and being able to play,” Hayes said. “He looks forward to the challenge.”
Lucky, who finished his career at Nebraska in 2008, was briefly with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009 and the New York Jets in 2010. He played for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL in 2011.
“I’ve spent the past year training and working out,” Lucky said. “That year off I was dying to be playing again. This will be my first time playing indoor football and I’m excited to play a game with a different speed. I like challenging myself. Getting hit by a wall, that’s something new to me.”
As for the Haymakers, here are the particulars: The first indoor football franchise in Lincoln since the Lightning/Capitols left town in 2006 will play a 12-game season (six home games at Pershing Center) beginning the first week of March and ending before the Fourth of July. Hayes promised ticket prices would be “family-friendly.”
“We want to be a big part of the community and we want good character players who can perform. We have that in Cory and Marlon,” said Hayes, who was offensive coordinator for the Council Bluffs franchise in 2012. “We’ve been in four straight championship games, and we expect to be in the playoffs this year.”
Hayes is also part of the ownership group, which includes Haymakers general manager Brad Lindgren and Ho-Chunk Inc., an economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
Also on Tuesday, Dave Brumagen was announced as the team’s coach. Brumagen was formerly an assistant director of player personnel for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL and was with the Omaha Beef and Nebraska Danger indoor franchises. While serving as Council Bluffs Express interim head coach, he led the team to the American Professional Football League championship game last season.
“Lincoln and football. It doesn’t get any better than this, does it?” Brumagen said.
The Haymakers belong to the newly formed Champions Professional Indoor Football League, which includes franchises from Sioux City, S.D.; Kansas City; Wichita, Kan.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Sedalia, Mo.
A player tryout will be held Oct. 20 at the Bison Sports Arena. For more information on the franchise, visit the team’s website at lincolnhaymakers.com.