American Football Wiki
New Jersey Red Dogs
New Jersey Red Dogs helmet New Jersey Red Dogs logo

Leauge(s): Arena Football League
Conference(s): Eastern
Based in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Stadium/Home field Continental Airlines Arena
Team colors Black, Red and White               
Team history
Founded 1997
Folded 2000 (became the New Jersey Gladiators under new ownership)
/ Arena Bowl wins
Confernce championships: None
Division championships: None

The New Jersey Red Dogs were a professional american football team in the Arena Football League that was based in East Rutherford, New Jersey. They were founded in 1997.

Team history[]

The Red Dogs entered the Arena Football League along with the Nashville Kats and the New York CityHawks. Their ownership group, which was led by New Jersey radio entrepreneur E. Burke Ross, also included several ex-NFL players, such as Joe Morris, Carl Banks, and Harry Carson. The name "Red Dogs" reflected the sponsorship of the Miller Brewing Company, the makers of Red Dog beer.[1] The Red Dogs played at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The AFL's intention was to add only New Jersey and Nashville for 1997. However, well after the awarding of the Red Dogs and Kats franchises, the owners of Madison Square Garden in New York City requested a franchise of their own, and the league granted this request. And so the CityHawks also began play in 1997. This affected the Red Dogs, in that the league then prevented the Red Dogs from advertising in New York. While North Jersey itself is very populous in its own right, the Red Dogs had hoped to be the team for the entire New York metropolitan area. Despite this setback, the Red Dogs management built a good team, which opened its history in memorable fashion. The team won 8 of its first 9 games, including a victory in their inaugural game on a last-second game-winning field goal, a thrilling overtime victory against the Albany Firebirds, a thorough thrashing of the Iowa Barnstormers (runners-up in the previous year's ArenaBowl X), and also one game in which they scored a then-record 91 points against the Texas Terror.[2] (This record has since been surpassed by the New York Dragons, who scored 99 in a game against the Carolina Cobras in 2001.)

The Red Dogs were led by head coach John Hufnagel, who had been a quarterback and offensive coordinator for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. After his time with the Red Dogs, Hufnagel went on to be an offensive coach for several National Football League teams, including the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. He then became the head coach of the CFL's Stampeders for the 2008 season, and won the Grey Cup in his first season at the helm. Hufnagel brought in several players with CFL experience to the Red Dogs, including QB Rickey Foggie and offensive specialist Larry Ray Willis. The team's other main receiver was Alvin Ashley, a player whose small size (150 lb.) made him unlikely to play in the NFL but suited the more compact Arena game.

The Red Dogs slumped late in their first season, losing 4 of their final 5 games to finish 9–5, then losing to the Orlando Predators in the first round of the playoffs.

The Red Dogs finished 8–6 in 1998, their second season, and won their first playoff game in Albany against the Firebirds.

Hufnagel left the Red Dogs after the 1998 season for a job with the NFL's Cleveland Browns, and he was replaced by Frank Mattiace, a former defensive lineman for the New Jersey Generals of the USFL. Star Larry Ray Willis was traded to the Milwaukee Mustangs Following those losses, the Red Dogs slumped in 1999 to their first losing season, going 6–8, despite winning 3 of their first 4.

The Red Dogs made a significant trade following the 1999 season, a trade they never got to benefit from. New Jersey sent Alvin Ashley to the Orlando Predators for wide receiver/defensive back Barry Wagner, widely regarded as the greatest player in the league's history.[3] However, soon after the trade, the league and its players agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement that resulted in several veteran players—including Wagner—gaining free agency. Wagner then signed with the San Jose SaberCats.

In 2000, the Red Dogs, without Wagner, Ashley, and offensive mainstay Chad Lindsey, fell to 4–10. Foggie lost his job as starting QB, replaced by Tommy Maddox, at the time a failed NFL quarterback. Head coach Frank Mattiace left the team in mid-season and was replaced on an interim basis by Kevin Guy, a former defensive back/wide receiver who had played two full seasons with the Red Dogs.

Season records[]

New Jersey Dogs
Year W L T Pct. Playoffs
1997 7 9 0 .643 Lost to Orlando Predators
1998 8 6 0 .571 Beat Albany Firebirds
Lost to Tampa Bay Storm
1999 6 8 0 .429 Did not qualify for playoffs
2000 4 10 0 .286 Did not qualify for playoffs


  1. "Arena Football Team Runs Into Name Problems", January 19, 1997. Archived from the original on April 7, 2017. 
  2. "New Jersey Set Record With 91 Points", June 22, 1997. Retrieved on August 6, 2014. 
  3. New Jersey Red Dogs acquire Barry Wagner from Orlando. Canoe Inc. (September 23, 1999). Archived from the original on June 8, 2011.

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