PRESS RELEASE & A.I. STORY
Today the Portland Thunder announced several big moves in the front office, but one was especially eye-catching. Former San Antonio Talons head coach Lee Johnson will serve as Director of Football Operations for the Thunder after coaching all years the Talons were in San Antonio. Johnson began his coaching career in 1997 with the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He was a defensive line coach for the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe in 2001-02, helping the team win two World Bowl titles. He joined the Arena Football League coaching ranks in 2003, working with the Colorado Crush, Austin Wranglers and Cleveland Gladiators before joining Thunder head coach Mike Hohensee as a line coach with the Peoria Pirates. Johnson served as the defensive coordinator for the Orlando Predators in 2010 and 2011 before being named head coach of the San Antonio Talons in 2012. Prior to becoming a coach, Johnson played in the NFL, CFL, and AFL. Johnson was 28-27 in 3 years as the coach of the Talons and led them to a division title in 2012.
“We’re excited to welcome Lee Johnson to our organization,” said Thunder President Brian Sandy in a press release “His 17 years of Arena Football experience will bring invaluable experience to our organization in his role of Director of Football Operations. In addition to that role, he will be in charge of player development, helping players gain valuable job and life skills and working to ensure Thunder players will find success both on and off the field.”
Portland also hired longtime AFL assistant coach Ernesto Purnsley has been tabbed as the team’s Director of Player Personnel. Clay Harrell will also return to the Thunder for a second season as the club’s offensive and defensive line coach.