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For Clairo, “the third time’s the Charm.”
Review: “Charm” by Clairo
Published July 21, 2024

Former Gophers on all sides of new Arena Football League

Rickey Foggie, Demry Croft and Lee Hutton are all in different roles within the renewed Arena Football League.
Image by Eitan Schoenberg
Rickey Foggie was a starting quarterback for the Gophers from 1984 to 1987.

At North High School in St. Paul, former Gophers quarterback turned head coach Rickey Foggie led his team in training camp on a cold Thursday evening.

Shades away from the maroon he was used to as a Gopher, Foggie now sports a neon orange emblem to represent the Minnesota Myth of the recently revived Arena Football League (AFL). From 1984-87, Foggie was the Gophers’ starting quarterback and is eighth in program history for career passing yards.

In February 2023, head commissioner Lee Hutton announced that the AFL would be returning in 2024 and, in November, announced Minnesota would receive a team. Hutton was a former Gopher as well, playing in the late 1990s. 

Hutton’s wife, Diana, is the president and owner of the Minnesota Myth. Diana attended law school at the University of Minnesota.

Hutton said he admires all the Gophers who played before him and added that Foggie was particularly very active in assisting other Gophers even after graduating.

“One day, I said, ‘Rickey, I’m starting this project, I’m going to need you to coach,’” Hutton said.

Soon after, Foggie was interviewed and hired as the head coach of the Myth.

“He’s been fantastic ever since,” Hutton said.

Foggie said he was coaching high school football for nearly a decade before he received the offer. 

“This just fell in my lap,” Foggie said. “So, I’m going to take it, I’m going to run with it.”

Foggie was a part of the original AFL in 1996 and played for the first Minnesota-based team in the AFL, the Fighting Pike. The team folded after just one season.

The Pike played at the Target Center, the same site the Myth will play at when the season begins. Foggie said the team drew crowds of 10,000 to 12,000 fans per game when he played.

Foggie said playing so close to the University allowed his college fans to continue to watch him when he played in the AFL. He wants to see a large college crowd for the Myth in this revival of the AFL.

“We want to draw the crowd that I had when I was in college,” Foggie said.

Hutton said the Metro Transit light rail makes Target Center an accessible venue for University students.

It takes approximately 20 minutes and five stops on the Green Line to reach Target Center from the East Bank station. (Image by Eitan Schoenberg)

“That’s what’s so great about having a team,” Hutton said. “It’s literally in everybody’s backyard.”

Hutton did not want the Myth to be limited to Minneapolis, so like many other AFL teams, the Myth used the name of their state, Minnesota.

“If you are in Rochester or Mankato, Minnesota Myth is your team,” Hutton said.

Hutton described AFL football as “Iron Man” football since the game is fluid and players play both offensive and defensive positions. 

Foggie said the fast-paced nature of the AFL can be appealing to college students. He added that a game can be completed within two and a half hours.

Foggie said most of the players on the Myth are in their early twenties and are coming out of college.

“What the AFL is doing is giving another avenue for players to play,” Foggie said. “Not everybody can make it in the NFL, not everybody can make it in the CFL.”

One of the more recent former college athletes is Demry Croft, a Gophers quarterback from 2015-17. 

Croft said playing in the AFL gave him an opportunity to advance to a higher level of football.

“It’s a lot of marquee guys in the league,” Croft said. “It’s good film, so it will be a good experience.”

Croft said University students could attend games because the AFL season starts before final exams end. He saw the possibility that current Gophers football players staying in Minnesota over the summer could also attend Myth games.

“It’s something new from Minneapolis,” Croft said.

Demry Croft was a quarterback for the Gophers from 2015 to 2017 before transferring to Tennessee State. (Image by Eitan Schoenberg)

Hutton has big plans for the future of the AFL, such as creating his own rendition of ESPN’s “College GameDay” to be hosted outside of Target Center to draw more fans.

Hutton said the Myth have partnered with Tom’s Watch Bar in Minneapolis to connect with downtown establishments. He added he does not want to only focus on college fans or just older fans, he wants to appeal to all demographics.

“This does not have to be your father’s game,” Hutton said.

Hutton said he wants to help student-athletes succeed in their post-collegiate careers by sharing his path and mistakes when he was in college. He added he wants to create a sustainable organization that can give back to his community.

“If I had my prayer or blessing, I would love for the Minnesota Myth to be made up of former Gophers,” Hutton said.

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