Last year the Chicago Slaughter destroyed everything in its path en route to a 14-0 season and the championship of the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL).
This year the Slaughter, coached again by former Bears Pro Bowl defensive tackle Steve "Mongo" McMichael, has moved up in class to the Indoor Football League (IFL) and opens its season at the Sears Center at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Rochester (N.Y.) Raiders.
Headlining the fourth edition of the Slaughter is former NFL running back Jarrett Payton, the son of Bears Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Jarrett Payton played with the Tennessee Titans in 2005. He also played in NFL Europe in 2005 with the Amsterdam Admirals, winners of World Bowl XIII, and in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes and the Toronto Argonauts.
Among the nine returning players for Chicago is star defensive back Dennison Robinson, who picked off 4 passes in his first five games with the Slaughter last season, returning 2 of the interceptions for touchdowns. Robinson was named to the 2002 Arena Football League All-Rookie team after catching 67 passes for 620 yards with 9 TDs. He earned two Iron Man awards in the AFL and was the league's defensive MVP in 2008 for the Chicago Rush.
Place-kicker Chris Nendick also returns to the Slaughter after a record-breaking 2009 season that included a 52-yard field goal in the championship game. The former Northern Illinois star and Naperville native averaged nearly 9 points a game last season.
Last year's offense, directed by coordinator Pat Pistorio, averaged a league-best 65 points per game, and the Slaughter outscored opponents by an average of nearly 30 points per game.
A pair of Slaughter rookies are expected to make McMichael's team even stronger this season.
Orland Park offensive tackle Jeff Roehl played at Notre Dame and Northwestern and then for the New York Giants in 2003. He also spent time with the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. Florida State wide receiver De'Cody Fagg was an NFL prospect until he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee at the 2008 Scouting Combine and went undrafted. Fagg is a big, physical receiver, and he had 54 catches for 758 yards for the Seminoles in 2007 and led the team with 5 TD receptions.
"We've got some great talent returning to the Slaughter, as well as some powerful new players joining the team," general manager Alan Perkins said. "We anticipate a great start in the IFL."
Another newcomer to the Slaughter is former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who guided the Super Bowl XX winners and has become part of the team's ownership group.
"I've been a winner throughout my football career, and I plan on continuing that success with the Chicago Slaughter," McMahon said. "I am excited to join my friend and former teammate Coach McMichael, and Jarrett Payton, in bringing another football championship back to Chicago."
Tickets for all Slaughter games may be purchased by calling (847) 310-3190 or visiting the team's website at chicagoslaughter.com.
Chicago Slaughter 2010 schedule
The Slaughter plays its home games at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates.
Tickets: $8, $10, $15, $20, $30, $40 available through all Ticketmaster outlets and at ticketmaster.com.
(HOME games in CAPS)
Date: Opponent, time
Feb. 27: ROCHESTER, 7:05 p.m.
March 13: at Richmond
March 21: BLOOMINGTON, 2:05 p.m.
March 27: ALASKA, 7:05 p.m.
April 10: at Bloomington
April 24: KENT, 7:05 p.m.
April 30: at La Crosse
May 8: at Green Bay
May 15: at Bloomington
May 22: GREEN BAY, 7:05 p.m.
May 28: WEST MICHIGAN, 7:35 p.m.
June 5: at Rochester
June 12: LA CROSSE, 7:05 p.m.
June 19: at Green Bay
Indoor Football League Central North
Bloomington (IL) Extreme
Green Bay (WI) Blizzard
La Crosse (WI) Spartans
Richmond (VA) Revolution
Rochester (NY) Raiders
West Michigan ThunderHawks
Omaha (NE) Beef
Sioux City (IA) Bandits
Sioux Falls (SD) Storm
Billings Outlaws (MT)
Fairbanks (AK) Outlaws
Kent (WA) Predators
Tri-Cities (WA) Fever
Austin (TX) Turfcats
Corpus Christi (TX) Hammerheads
San Angelo (TX) Stampede
Abilene (TX) Ruff Riders
Amarillo (TX) Dusters
El Paso (TX) Generals
Odessa (TX) Roughnecks
Wichita (KS) Wild