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Conquest Name Ex-NFL QB Steve Matthews Head Coach

November 6, 2003 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Albany Firebirds News Release

Albany, N.Y., November 6, 2003 – The Albany Conquest of arenafootball2 announced today that former NFL quarterback, Steve Matthews will serve as the team’s head coach during the 2004 season. The announcement comes following the September 2003 elevation of Conquest head coach, Pete Costanza, to the Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League.

At the same time, Robert Zeig has been named General Manager of the Conquest and Brad Wilson has been named Director of Media Relations/Football Operations. The announced hirings were made at a press conference held at the Albany Crowne Plaza Hotel.

“I am very excited to have this opportunity to become head Coach of the Conquest. I look forward to continuing the winning tradition of Arena Football in Albany,” said Coach Matthews. “ Pete Costanza was a great coach for the team and I hope to build on his efforts. My first task is to meet with the assistant coaches of the Conquest, and with their help evaluate our team, our returning players, the recruiting opportunities and plan for the 2004 season.”

Matthews joins the Conquest after spending 2003 as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator with the Memphis Xplorers of arenafootball2. At Memphis he coached Quarterback Cleo Lemon, who now plays for the San Diego Chargers. Coach Matthews also brought to the Xplorers another NFL veteran Quarterback, Rod Robinson, who was granted a try out with the Buffalo Bills. In addition, he coached Kevin Prentiss, who in 2003 emerged as the top offensive specialist in AF2, until an injury sidelined him for the season.

Matthews began his coaching career as quarterback coach with the Nashville Kats, formerly of the Arena Football League in 2001. In fact, Matthews coached QB Andy Kelly, the AFL’s All-time passing leader. Kelly currently holds AFL career passing records for completions (2,111), attempts (3,430), passing yards (23,882) and touchdowns (455). That year, Nashville competed in the AFL Championship Game against the Grand Rapids Rampage, losing 64-42.

“Steve Matthews will do a real good job as the coach of the Conquest,” stated former Conquest Coach Pete Constanza. “Coach Matthews is the type of coach who has flourished through af2, since he embraces exactly what the league is all about, the showcasing of up and coming players and coaches. Offensively, Steve will be able to take the format which we put in place for the Conquest and build upon it.”

Matthews’ professional football career began with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1994. After three seasons in Kansas City, he led the Scottish Claymores of National Football League Europe to a championship season in the summer of 1996. He returned to the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1997 and in week two of the season he was named NFL Player-of-the-Week in a 40-13 win over the New York Giants. In 1998, he played his final NFL season with the Tennessee Oilers, now the Tennessee Titans.

“ Steve Matthews is a conscientious, hard working, enthusiastic young man who will be an excellent head coach,” stated Coach Jeff Fisher of the Tennessee Titans. “In fact, Steve should still be playing quarterback in the NFL.”

Matthews attended the University of Memphis from 1992 through 1994, where he still holds numerous passing records. He later received his Bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University in 2002. He and his wife, Carole, currently reside in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They have two dogs, Bonnie and Scotia. They will relocate to the Capitol Region.

General Manager Robert Zeig, a part of the Conquest ownership group, Big Win Ventures, joined the Conquest front office staff as interim General Manager in late September after former GM Robert Thompson left to join Radio Disney.

“ The responsibilities of a General Manager are two-fold,” said Zeig. “For our fans, we need to keep a competitive team on the field and return the Conquest to the playoffs. I am looking forward to working with Coach Matthews on that task. On the business side, we are going to produce the biggest and best sports entertainment value for the Capitol Region in 2004.”

“Our challenge ahead is to provide Albany with a Sportsvision, to maintain a quality team on the field, a top notch entertaining product for our fans, and a worthwhile partnership for our sponsors. We are dedicated to the Albany / Capitol Region and are delighted to play in the best arena in af2, the Pepsi,” added Zeig.

Zeig has held numerous sports management positions since the late 1970’s, including his stint as Advertising Manager with the New York Yankees from 1984-88. Prior to that, he was a minor league baseball general manager with four different teams from 1977-84. He began with the West Haven Yankees, followed by the Lynn Sailors, Nashua Angels, and Waterbury Reds. He was named Eastern League “Executive of the Year” for his work in professional baseball with West Haven in 1979.

Zeig has spent the last five years coordinating sports related activities for Polytechnic University in Brooklyn. His duties included student athletic enrollment, athletic development, facility building, and coaching the university’s baseball team. He also served as Executive Director for the Brooklyn Sports Foundation from 1988-2001 and now sits on its Board of Directors. He graduated from the University of New Haven with a degree in English and attended Fairfield University for his Master’s in Communications. He is married to Irene McManus Zeig and has two children, Ariel (12) and Chelsea (11).

Wilson is no stranger to local sports having served as Director of Ticket and Group Sales with the former Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs in 2000 and 2001. In 2001, he helped the team set a franchise attendance record with over 100,000 fans. He also spent one year as an assistant for athletic media relations at the University at Albany. Prior to that, he was an assistant in the sports information office at Springfield College.

For the past two years, Wilson has been an account executive in advertising sales with Clear Channel Radio of Albany where he served clients including the Conquest, Tri-City Valley Cats, and the E.S.A.M. Northeast Air Show. Wilson will also assist in sales and marketing for the Conquest.

The Albany Conquest is owned by Big Win Ventures, an investment group, which last week sold the Mohegan Wolves to the Manchester Professional Football Club, an investor group headed by Steve Schubert, a former NFL player with the New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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