ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — One week ago, Maurice Leggett was the anchor and vocal leader of the Albany Empire defense. Now, he’s trading in his helmet for a headset, and will be leading the whole squad from the sideline.
Leggett announced his retirement from playing Friday, and Monday was named the Empire interim head coach.
The team practiced at Afrim’s Sports Park in Colonie Tuesday, and approximately 15 players attended.
Bringing stability to the Empire will be a tall order for Leggett. He’s the fourth different head coach the organization has had this season, and that’s not counting the fact Tom Menas left the team two different times, and Terry Foster, who was announced as the head coach last week, backed out.
But Leggett’s resume certainly sets him apart from any of the previous head coaches. He spent two seasons in the National Football League with the Kansas City Chiefs, was an all-star in the Canadian Football League and helped lead the Empire to an ArenaBowl championship in 2019.
Leggett commands a great deal of respect from the players, having been in their shoes literally days ago, and has served as a mentor to many of them. He believes the transition from player to coach will be a manageable one.
“A lot of guys have been comin’ to me before…before this change, so it’s just a title,” said Leggett. “It feels weird with them calling me “Coach.” I’m like, “You don’t have to do that,” he joked. “The guys believe in it (the decision) because I’ve been on both sides, and it’s very fresh to them. And they’ve seen it. I give my all on the field. I’ll give my all in the meeting rooms, and as a coach. And off the field, (I’m) makin’ sure these guys are well taken care of.”
Leggett will make his head coaching debut Saturday in Orlando. The Empire beat the Predators 70-33 back on April 16 in the season opener – its’ only win of the year. But the roster has obviously changed drastically since then.