By Mick Moninghoff
October 31, 2019
The Massachusetts Pirates have named former Arena Football League star wide receiver Reggie Gray Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator for the upcoming season. Gray enjoyed 14 seasons of professional football; nine in the AFL and now he looks to bring his knowledge and experience to the Pirates.
“I always wanted to go into coaching when I was done playing,” Gray said. I talked with Jawad (Pirates Owner Jawad Yatim) a couple of years ago about it and I wasn’t quite ready to finish playing at that moment but, now after winning another championship (in 2018 with Washington in the AFL), I figured it was time. This is a great opportunity and I felt like I couldn’t pass it up.
In nine AFL seasons Gray recorded 879 receptions, 10,945 yards and 267 touchdown receptions. He also was an explosive kick returner with 302 returns for 5,752 yards and 15 TD’s. He also had two rushing touchdowns. Now, how does he see himself evolving into an offensive coordinator?
“I’ve been the league (AFL) about ten years. I had basically eight new offensive coordinators and probably about six rookie offensive coordinators, so I’m taking the good things from each coordinator. I would like to take the things that I saw that were successful and bottle it up into one offense. I will make everything my own style. It’s arena football so you must score points. That’s going to be the number one goal.” he said.
Pirates President and General Manager Jawad Yatim said he’s had conversations with Gary for a few years and now he’s happy to have him on the coaching staff.
“I was familiar with him from out in China when we played out there and I’ve got a good feeling of what kind of person he was and that’s obviously important to me. I already knew his mental state regarding arena football and having a vast knowledge of the game itself, playing for so many years, so I’m excited to have him. I’ll think he’ll do a great job and I’ll try to surround him with as much talent as we can. I look forward to training camp, getting the season started and winning a championship in 2020. Adding someone like Reggie to the coaching staff is definitely going to benefit our team.,” Yatim said.
A two-time AFL champion, Gray was the Most Valuable Player in Arena Bowl XXVIII in 2015 with the San Jose SaberCats. He credits all his coaches along the way but mentioned two that left a lasting impression.
“I’d have to start off with my very first coach in arena football, Mike Hohensee. He taught me the game and made me look at it from a quarterback/coach perspective. Another is coach Terry Mally when I was in San Jose. It was a different approach the way he did it. It was an old school approach, but he had a lot of success. We led the league in offense and put up a lot of points. His philosophy was you had to have smart guys out there. It wasn’t so much about the talent, it was more about knowing the game and being successful that way, so those two coaches stick out,” Gray said.
Gray hails from Chicago, IL and played his college ball at Western Illinois. A self-proclaimed “film rat,” he is excited and ready to get to work by teaching players what he knows.
“I’m very excited. Looking at my last few years I kind of took the role of a player/coach, but I was still a player. I had the respect of my teammates for what I accomplished and my knowledge of the game, but now I’m taking it to another level. I’m a coach. It’s exciting, it’s new. All those years I may have questioned some of the things the coordinators were doing and now I take the challenge of trying to prove to my players that I know what I’m doing. It gives you that nervous feeling like a game in a sense but when the game starts as a player, you’re ready and you brush it off and I’m looking for that same approach. I’ll have an open mind about a lot of things. It’s just a great opportunity to be an Assistant Head Coach and an Offensive Coordinator and bring my own personality out into calling plays.”
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Forster St. Worcester, MA, 01608. Pirates season tickets for the 2020 season are now available starting at $99.00. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email [email protected] or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Follow the Pirates on Facebook, at Facebook.com/MAPirates, on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as on Twitter @mass_pirates.