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Chicago Rush
Leauge Arena Football Leauge (AFL) 2001-present
Conference Eastern
Founded 2001
Team Owners Chicago Gridiron, LLC (led by William Niro, including Dr. Ciro Cirrincione)
Team President/GM Roger Wexelberg
Head Coach Bob McMillen
Arena Allstate Arena
City Chicago, Illinois
Team Colors Blue, Grey and White
Conference/Division titles 5: (AFL: 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011)
ArenaBowl titles 1: (AFL: 2006)
Mascot Grabowski
Dancers Adreniline Rush

The Chicago Rush are an arena football team based in Rosemont, Illinois. It is a member of the Central Division of the National Conference of the Arena Football League. The team was founded in 2001 and is co-owned by Mike Ditka, the Hall of Fame player and coach.

The Rush have qualified for the playoffs every season of its existence, and won one AFL championship, ArenaBowl XX in 2006. Chicago won its division five times and advanced to the AFL Conference Championship six times, including four consecutive appearances from 2004 to 2007. The Rush play its home games at Allstate Arena in Rosemont and the team practice facilities are in Palatine, Illinois.

Season By Season[]

ArenaBowl Champions ArenaBowl Appearance Division Champions Playoff Berth
Season League Conference Division Regular season Postseason results
Finish Wins Losses
Chicago Rush
2001 AFL American Central 4th 7 7 Won Wild Card Round (Orlando) 41–26
Lost Quarterfinals (Grand Rapids) 21–53
2002 AFL American Central 1st 9 5 Won Quarterfinals (Dallas) 60–47
Lost Semifinals (Arizona) 35–46
2003 AFL American Central 3rd 8 8 Lost Wild Card Round (New York) 45–48
2004 AFL American Central 1st 11 5 Won Quarterfinals (Orlando) 59–49
Lost Semifinals (San Jose) 35–49
2005 AFL American Central 2nd 9 7 Won Conference Semifinals (Los Angeles) 52–45
Lost Conference Championship (Colorado) 43–49 (OT)
2006 AFL American Central 3rd 7 9 Won Wild Card Round (Nashville) 55–47
Won Divisional Round (Colorado) 63–46
Won Conference Championship (San Jose) 59–56
Won ArenaBowl XX (Orlando) 69–61
2007 AFL American Central 1st 12 4 Won Divisional Round (Los Angeles) 52–20
Lost Conference Championship (San Jose) 49–61
2008 AFL American Central 1st 11 5 Lost Divisional Round (Grand Rapids) 41–58
2009 The AFL suspended operations for the 2009 season.


2010 AFL National Midwest 2nd 10 6 Lost Conference Semifinals (Milwaukee) 54–64
2011 AFL National Central 1st 13 5 Won Conference Semifinals (Dallas) 54–51
Lost Conference Championship (Arizona) 48–54
Total 97 61 (includes only regular season)
10 9 (includes only the postseason)
107 70 (includes both regular season and postseason)




The Rush made its AFL debut in 2001. Although their administrative offices are based in Des Plaines, Illinois, northwest of Chicago and near O'Hare International Airport, the team plays its home games in neighboring Rosemont, Illinois at Allstate Arena (formerly known as the Rosemont Horizon), the same venue previously used by the Chicago Bruisers, one of the four original Arena Football League teams. While in the AFL, the Rush competed in the Central Division of the American Conference. Former Chicago Bears coach and player Mike Ditka is a co-owner of the team.


The Rush have made the playoffs every year in the franchise's short history, and so far, they have made one ArenaBowl appearance. Mike Hohensee was the franchise's first coach, and he remained the Rush's only coach until becoming the head coach of the Philadelphia Soul in 2011. One year after, Hohensee left the Soul to coach the Iowa Barnstormers.

In their inaugural year (2001), the Rush finished the regular season 7–7 and won their very first playoff game, beating the Orlando Predators 41–26, but lost to the eventual ArenaBowl XV champion Grand Rapids Rampage 53–21. The team featured young players that would become Rush fixtures and fan favorites in the years to come, such as quarterback Billy Dicken, Joe Douglass, Damien Porter and Jamie McGourty, and Riley Kleinhesselink, Cedric Walker, and Anthony Ladd.

In 2002, the Rush won the Central division with a 9–5 record and received a bye in the playoffs. Dicken returned at quarterback and Chicago added Antonio Chatman who was named to the All-Rookie team as the team's main wide receiver and return man. Chicago added defensive linemen John Moyer and James Baron. They defeated the Dallas Desperados 60–47, but fell in the semifinals to the Arizona Rattlers 46–35.

In 2003, the AFL expanded from 14 games to 16. Dicken was the team's quarterback, but missed time after breaking his jaw in the middle of the season. Antonio Chatman broke Rush franchise records for All-Purpose and Return Yards. He caught 123 passes for 1,636 yards and 29 touchdowns. On special teams, he netted 2,062 return yards and got into the end zone seven times. Chicago also signed DeJuan Alfonzo early in the season from the Indiana Firebirds. Alfonzo would be with the team until 2010. Chicago also signed FB/LB Bob McMillen, who would play with the team until 2007 and became the Rush's head coach in 2011. After starting the season 0–3, the Rush finished 8–5 and got into the playoffs as a Wild Card Team. But to make the postseason, Chicago needed to defeat the Indiana Firebirds on the final day of the regular season, the Rush won 46–43, in overtime. For the first time in franchise history, Chicago did not win a playoff game, and fell in the Wild Card Game to the New York Dragons 48–45. After the season, Chatman went to the NFL, signing with the Green Bay Packers.

In 2004, the Rush signed Raymond Philyaw as its franchise quarterback. Philyaw was known for his efficiently and record touchdown-interception ratio, a crucial stat in the AFL, where turnovers are key. In 2004, Philyaw threw just four interceptions. Chicago started the year 4–0, its best start in franchise history. The Rush won the Central division with an 11–5 record. They won their first round game 59–49 over the Orlando Predators, but they fell in the semifinals to the eventual ArenaBowl XVIII champion San Jose SaberCats 49–35. Chicago led early in the game, but Philyaw tore his ACL on a scramble, and the Rush could not overtime the injury.

In 2005, they went to the AFL playoffs as the #3 seed in the American Conference. They won the conference semifinal over the Los Angeles Avengers 52–45, but ended up losing the American Conference Championship Game to the eventual ArenaBowl XIX Champion Colorado Crush in overtime, with a final score of 49–43. That game became known as the "Confetti Game", due to an arena employee firing a confetti cannon prematurely, when the game was extended due to a defensive penalty on the final play. After a ten minute delay to clean the confetti, the Rush were able to tie the game on the untimed down, forcing the overtime period.

2006: ArenaBowl XX champions[]

In 2006, despite their first losing record of 7–9, the Rush got into the playoffs, receiving the #5 seed in the American Conference.

In the off-season, signed former Heisman Trophy finalist Michael Bishop and Matt D'Orazio to fight to be the team's starting quarterback, and D'Orazio got the game. During the regular season, Chicago started the year at 0–2, but during the season, the Rush picked up defensive back Jeremy Unertl and offensive specialist Bobby Sippio. Both made huge impacts on their respective sides of the ball.

With a 5–9 record, the Rush won its last two games of the regular season to get a playoff spot.In the playoffs, the Rush managed to pull off key upsets. In the Wild Card Round, the Rush defeated the fourth-seeded Nashville Kats 55–47. In the Divisional Round, Chicago managed to pull off a huge upset by taking down the defending champion Colorado Crush, 63–46. In the Conference Championship they upset the second-seeded San Jose SaberCats 59–56, giving the Rush their very first ArenaBowl appearance in franchise history.

In ArenaBowl XX, the Rush defeated the Orlando Predators, 69–61, to give Chicago their first Arena Bowl title. Quarterback Matt D'Orazio was Offensive Player of the Game, wide receiver/defensive back Dennison Robinson took Defensive Player of the Game honors, and fullback/linebacker Bob McMillen was named the Ironman of the Game. With the win, the Rush became the first team with a losing regular-season record to win a championship in any sport since the 1937–38 Chicago Blackhawks.


In 2007 the team won the American Conference Central Division with a record of 12–4. D'Orazio was the team's quarterback and Bobby Sippio, in his first full season with the Rush caught 125 passes for 1,742 yards and 53 passes. After the season, Sippio would sign with the Kansas City Chiefs. They defeated the L.A. Avengers on June 9, 2007 in the divisional finals. They then played the San Jose SaberCats for the conference final, yet they came up short losing 61–49.

In 2008, the Rush made a free agency splash by signing AFL legends Sherdrick Bonner and Damian Harrell. The Rush opened its 2008 campaign against the defending ArenaBowl XXI champion San Jose Sabercats. Chicago convincingly defeated the Sabercats 70–47 in front of 15,409 fans at the Allstate Arena. Injuries allowed Russ Michna to become the team's starter over Bonner. Harrell, Donovan Morgan, and Travis LaTendresse would all post 1,000-yard receiving seasons. En route to an 11–5 season, Chicago locked up the conference's top seed and home field advantage for the entire playoffs. It was the first time Chicago had home field advantage and the Rush had never lost a home playoff game, going 3–0. The Grand Rapids Rampage drew Chicago in the divisional round. The Rampage finished the regular season 6–10 but stunned the Rush and 14,338 fans 58–41. The Rampage would lose a week later to the Sabercats at the HP Pavilion.

2009: Arena Football League restructuring[]

In 2009, the Arena Football League suspended operations to refinance and restructure its business plan. After a one-year layoff, the AFL and Chicago Rush returned in 2010 with a single entity model.

The rebirth: 2010[]

On December 10, 2009, it was announced that the Rush will be returning for 2010 under new ownership as a member of Arena Football 1. The ownership obtained the rights to the name after a court auction granted the AF1 control of the AFL's assets. Two months later, the AF1 decided to adopt the former Arena Football League name.

The 2010 Rush roster would feature many new faces. However, former Rush players quarterback Russ Michna, jack linebacker/wide receiver DeJuan Alfonzo, and linemen Joe Peters, Robert Boss, and Beau Elliot rejoined the team. Also on the roster was wide receiver Samie Parker who played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Thaddeus Coleman, and kicker Chris Gould, whose brother Robbie Gould plays for the Chicago Bears.

Chicago returned to the field on April 2, 2010 on the road against the Iowa Barnstormers. The game was broadcast on the NFL Network and Chicago won 61–43. The Rush began the season 4–0 and were in first place in the division at 10–4. However, the team lost its last two games, first to the 1–13 Dallas Vigilantes and then closed out the year on the road losing to the Spokane Shock. It cost the team a chance at the division title and forced the team to go on the road for the playoffs. The team ended the regular season at 10–6, and lost to the Milwaukee Mustangs (then Milwaukee Iron) in the playoffs.

2011: Ten year anniversary[]

The Rush celebrated its 10th season in 2011. Bob McMillen replaced Mike Hohensee to become the team's second head coach in team history, and Russ Michna returned at quarterback. Chicago finished the regular season with a 13-5 record and finished first in the Central Division. It was the most regular season wins in Rush history, breaking the 2007 team's 12-4 mark. Defensive back Vic Hall broke AFL record for interceptions in a season with 15, doing it as a rookie. The Rush defense led the league in points allowed (46.3 per game) and broke league records for the most turnovers (56) and interceptions (42) in a season. Wide receiver Reggie Gray finished the year with the most catches (130) and receiving yards (1,969) in franchise history, and tied the Rush record with 53 total touchdowns. Bobby Sippio held the old records. Chicago defeated the Dallas Vigilantes at Allstate Arena in the first round of the playoffs, but the Rush season ended the following week, falling to the Arizona Rattlers in the National Conference Championship Game. Arizona advanced to ArenaBowl XXIV, but lost to the Jacksonville Sharks in the championship. For the Rush, it marked the sixth time in franchise history the team had advanced to the AFL Conference Championships.

2012: AFL's Silver Anniversary[]

The 2012 season marked the AFL's 25th season and number 11 for the Rush. Chicago began the year with a 70-48 home victory against the Tampa Bay Storm on March 10 at Allstate Arena. In 2012, the Rush re-signed quarterback Russ Michna, the franchises all-time leading passer, 2011 Second Team All-Arena WR Reggie Gray and 2011 AFL Defensive Player of the Year DB Vic Hall, jack linebacker Kelvin Morris, and offensive lineman T.J. Watkins.

Notable players[]

  • Antonio Chatman (2002–03) - Chatman went on to play with the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals from 2003 to 2008. Ironically, Chatman returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in 2005 in a game the Bears needed to win to clinch the division, but Chicago still managed to win.
  • Michael Bishop (2006) - The Heisman Trophy finalist was the Rush's backup quarterback in 2006.
  • Samie Parker (2010) - Parker played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004 to 2007.


  • The Rush's official mascot is a construction worker named Grabowski,[3] a reference to Chicago's blue collar[4] background, which was coined by Mike Ditka in January 1986 to describe the difference between his Chicago Bears and the Los Angeles Rams.
  • Dancin' Steve was the original unofficial mascot for the Chicago Rush Arena Football team. He made his first appearance at the premier game March 30, 2001.[5]
  • Before ultimately choosing the nickname Rush, the team was going to be called the Chicago Paytons, to honor the late Bears' great, Walter Payton, who, along with Ditka, was to be part owner of the team.
  • The Rush currently share the Allstate Arena with the DePaul Blue Demons men's basketball team and the Chicago Wolves hockey team. In addition to pro sports, the Arena is often used for Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, rodeo, Icecapades,concerts and professional wrestling.
  • The Rush are the first Arena Football team to be featured in a "This Is SportsCenter" ad on ESPN. In the ad SportsCenter anchor John Anderson mediates a therapeutic sit-down discussion in which Rush receiver Damian Harrell tells quarterback Sherdrick Bonner that he feels like he never gets the ball. When Bonner interrupts to tell him that he's not always open, Anderson chides him saying "Who has the ball right now?" "Damian has the ball."
  • On May 19, 2008, the Rush wore black jerseys, black pants and silver helmets in a game against the Los Angeles Avengers. The Rush won 72–28. The game was televised on ESPN2. Coincidently, the Rush wore black jerseys for the second time in Week 2 of the 2011 season, March 18, 2011 against the Philadelphia Soul, and the games were very similar. The Rush blew out the Soul 62–28 after going up 40–14 by halftime.
  • On September 14, 2010, the Rush announced that Rush great Bob McMillen was to take over as head coach.
  • In 2010, Les Grobstein became play–by–play announcer for the Rush, he was also the radio and TV announcer for the Chicago Bruisers from 1987-89. Tom Dore was the Rush radio announcer from 2001-2008.

Media Coverage[]

The Chicago Rush originally had games broadcast on the now defunct Fox Sports Net Chicago during its first two seasons from 2001-02 with mostly Saturday night telecasts. When the AFL signed with NBC from 2003-06, the Rush was one of the most prominently featured teams during the national NBC broadcasts as well as playoff games and the majority of Chicago's games moved to Sunday afternoons. A few of the games not picked up by NBC remained on FSN Chicago until 2006. Beginning in the 2007 season, the AFL began a TV partnership with ESPN and FSN Chicago went under and Comcast SportsNet Chicago took its place. Once again the Rush were widely featured during the national ESPN telecasts on Monday nights and Sunday afternoons. [6]

The regional telecasts went to Comcast SportsNet. From 2001 to 2008, the Rush games were broadcast by Tom Dore and former Chicago Bears offensive lineman James "Big Cat" Williams. The radio deals bounced between 670 The Score and ESPN Radio 1000.

When the Rush returned in 2010, the AFL signed its TV deal with NFL Network, but the Rush were not featured as often as they had been with ESPN and NBC, averaging between 2 and 3 telecasts a year on NFL Network in 2010 and 2011, but were shutout from the national spotlight in 2012. Occasionally region games air on CSN and WGN's CLTV, and all AFL games are streamed for free online through UStream.[7]

Awards and records[]

This section contains all records, awards, and honors acquired by Rush players in individual seasons. Career records weren't included as not all players spent career with Rush

Team awards[]

  • Chicago Rush
    • 2004
      • Commissioner's Award
    • 2007
      • Commissioner's Award

Player awards[]

  • DeJuan Alfonzo
    • 2006
      • All-Ironman Team WR/LB
    • 2007
      • Assists Season Leaders, 49
      • Fumble Returns Season Leaders, 5
      • Interception Yards Season Leaders, 147
      • Interception TDs Season Leaders, 3
      • First Team All-Arena JLB
      • All-Ironman Team WR/LB
    • 2010
      • AFL Ironman of the Year
      • AFL All-Arena First Team, Jack Linebacker
      • AFL All-Arena First Team, Ironman
  • James Baron
    • 2002
      • First Team All-Arena OL/DL
  • Antonio Chatman
    • 2002
      • All-Rookie Team OS
    • 2003
      • Kick Returns Season Leaders, 84
      • Kick Return Yards Season Leaders, 2062
      • Kick Return TDs Season Leaders, 7
      • Second Team All-Arena OS
  • Matt D'Orazio
    • 2006
      • Completion Percentage Season Leaders (min. 150 Attempts), 70.3%
      • ArenaBowl XX Offensive Player of the Game
    • 2007
      • QB Rating Season Leaders (min. 150 Attempts), 126.24
      • Completion Percentage Season Leaders (min. 150 Attempts), 69.1%
  • Dan Frantz
    • 2007
      • Extra Points (1 pt) Season Leaders, 104
  • Keith Gispert
    • 2003
      • All-Rookie Team K
    • 2005
      • FG Percentage Season Leaders (min. 15 Attempts), 61.1%
  • Jamie McGourty
    • 2002
      • TD/Rush Pct. Season Leaders (min. 25 rushes), 34.5
  • Bob McMillen
    • 2004
      • Rushes Season Leaders, 79
      • Rushing Yards Season Leaders, 285
      • Rushing TDs Season Leaders, 22
      • All-Ironman Team FB/LB
    • 2006
      • ArenaBowl XX Ironman of the Game
  • Etu Molden
    • 2004
      • All-Rookie Team WR/LB
    • 2005
      • All-Ironman Team WR/LB
  • John Moyer
    • 2002
      • Second Team All-Arena OL/DL
    • 2003
      • Sacks Season Leaders, 9.0
      • First Team All-Arena OL/DL
      • All-Ironman Team OL/DL
    • 2004
      • Sacks Season Leaders, 9.0
      • Blocked Kicks Season Leaders, 3
      • First Team All-Arena OL/DL
      • All-Ironman Team OL/DL
      • Lineman of the Year
    • 2005
      • Blocked Kicks Season Leaders, 3
      • Second Team All-Arena OL/DL
  • Raymond Philyaw
    • 2004
      • TD/Rush Pct. Season Leaders (min. 25 rushes), 32.4
  • Dameon Porter
    • 2001
      • Yards/Reception Season Leaders (min. 40 receptions), 16.3
      • Interceptions Season Leaders, 12
      • First Team All-Arena WR/DB
      • All-Ironman Team WR/DB
      • Breakout Player of the Year
      • Ironman of the Year
    • 2002
      • Interceptions Season Leaders, 10
      • First Team All-Arena WR/DB
      • All-Ironman Team WR/DB
  • Dennison Robinson
    • 2006
      • ArenaBowl XX Defensive Player of the Game
    • 2007
      • Tackles Season Leaders, 95
  • Bobby Sippio
    • 2007
      • Receiving Yards Season Leaders, 1742
      • Receiving TDs Season Leaders, 53 TDs
      • TD/Reception Pct. Season Leaders (min. 40 receptions), 42.4
      • First Team All-Arena WR
  • Khreem Smith
    • 2006
      • Forced Fumbles Season Leaders, 5
      • Second Team All-Arena OL/DL
      • All-Rookie Team OL/DL
  • Jeremy Unertl
    • 2007
      • Second Team All-Arena DB

Retired numbers[]

  • 44 Bob McMillen, FB/LB
  • 99 John Moyer, OL/DL


Chicago Rush roster
  • 12 Russ Michna
  • 18 Justin Roper


  • 43 J.J. Payne

Wide receivers

  •  1 Reggie Gray
  •  2 Terrance Turner
  •  6 Jared Perry
  • 16 Marquis Hamilton
Offensive linemen
  • 51 William Eisenhardt
  • 66 Brad Paul
  • 70 C.J. Cobb
  • 73 T.J. Watkins
  • 75 Corey O'Daniel

Defensive linemen

  • 40 Wayne Daniels
  • 45 Courtney Harris
  • 90 Derek Walker
  • 94 Ervin Baldwin
  • 96 Xavier Brown
  •  7 Lindsey Witten
  • 11 Kelvin Morris LB/FB

Defensive backs

  •  4 Vic Hall
  •  9 Brandon Freeman
  • 22 Samaj Moody
  • -- Kelvin Rodgers


  • 20 Mike Salerno
Physically unable to perform
  • Currently vacant

Team suspension

  • Currently vacant

Recallable reassignment

  •  3 Doug Beaumont WR
  • 14 Luke Drone QB
  • 25 Pacino Horne DB
  • 55 Bryan Jean-Pierre DL
  • 98 Alex Daniels LB/DL

Rookies in italics

Roster updated March 1, 2012

24 Active, 5 Inactive

More rosters



External links[]