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Red Dogs become Gladiators

by AFL Press Release
February 16, 2001 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I)


AFL Press Release

Owner Jim Ferraro Hires Chris Mara and Lary Kuharich to Build Winner in The Meadowlands

NEW YORK - Jim Ferraro, the new owner of New Jersey's Arena Football League (AFL) team, announced today, a complete franchise reorganization. Ferraro has named Chris Mara as General Manager and Lary Kuharich as Head Coach. Ferraro also renamed the team the New Jersey Gladiators.

The Gladiators, who will continue to play their home games at the Continental Airlines Arena, open their 14-game schedule at The Meadowlands on April 14 against the Carolina Cobras.

The 43-year-old Ferraro, who grew up in Greenwich, Conn., is President of the Miami-based law firm of Ferraro & Associates and a partner in the firm of Kelley & Ferraro in Cleveland. Ferraro, who resides in Miami, recently completed the purchase of the New Jersey franchise in December 2000.

"I am very excited to take charge of the New Jersey franchise and bring an Arena Football League winner to The Meadowlands." said Ferraro. "Arena Football features high-powered offense, played in a setting that brings fans right into the heart of the game. I am especially proud to own a franchise in this area, which is a pro football hotbed and a represents a proud history of the Giants and Jets.

"I am also very fortunate to have Chris Mara and Lary Kuharich working for the Gladiators," Ferraro continued. "They are both solid football people who have been in the game most of their lives and can put us on a path to make things right. Chris comes from a first-class football organization. Lary has been an experienced NFL assistant and twice won the ArenaBowl with Tampa Bay."

Mara returns to The Meadowlands after an eight-year absence in which he operated an independent free-agent football scouting service for numerous National Football League franchises. Previously, Mara served in the player personnel department for the New York Giants for 14 years, including the two Super Bowl Championship seasons of 1986 and 1990. Mara cited a new challenge as his reasoning for joining the Gladiators.

"I believe this is a great project to undertake with Mr. Ferraro and Coach Kuharich," Mara said. "With few players and staff, my strength as an evaluator of football talent will be put to the test while I learn the other aspects of the business including ticket sales and overall management of a franchise. The addition of a successful coach was critical. Lary has been a winner where ever he has worked, and with two AFL championships already on his resume, I know we're well on our way in establishing a winning Gladiators' tradition."

Kuharich, a 33-year coaching veteran, brings a winning background to the Gladiators with two AFL Championships already to his credit (Tampa Bay Storm 1991, 93). Most recently, Kuharich spent his last two years coaching with Mike Ditka at the New Orleans Saints as running backs coach.

"I am very glad to be back in the Arena Football League, my first love," Kuharich said. "I value working with and for Chris and Jim. The Gladiators will knock people down."

Commencing his professional football-coaching career with the Canadian Football League Calgary Stampeders in 1976, Kuharich spent time with other CFL franchises as well as the United States Football League San Antonio Gunslingers before making his AFL debut in 1991 with the Tampa Bay Storm. With Kuharich as the offensive coordinator, the Storm won ArenaBowl V by beating the Detroit Drive, 48-42. Kuharich took the reigns as head coach of the Storm compiling a 35-12, 3-year record capturing his second ArenaBowl in 1993 when the Storm defeated the Drive, 51-31.

After spending 1995 with the World League of American Football as head coach/director of football operations for the Scottish Claymores, Kuharich returned to the AFL to take the helm with the expansion Connecticut Coyotes in 1996 and then again with the New York City Hawks in 1997 before heading south to New Orleans and the NFL.

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