It’s not football season as he’s always known it but right now, in the middle of April, it’s football season in Shane Conlan’s world.
The former Bills linebacker is four games into his first season as a member of the AFL’s Pittsburgh Power organization – in the front office, of course.
After retiring from the NFL in 1995 and spending time in commercial real estate, Conlan was recruited by the Power's ownership and jumped on in October 2013 as the team’s Vice President of Corporate Partnerships.
He’s not directly involved on the football side, but simply being around the sport is good enough for the nine-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler.
“I never wanted to be involved in the football part of it,” he said. “They’ll ask my opinion every once in a while on a player or two and I’ll offer it, but I like the business side of it. It’s been going well.”
Though he doesn’t pretend to influence football decisions, Conlan admits there are still a few things he needs learn about the arena football game. Not only does the AFL operate on a different calendar, it has different rules and a different style of play. But Conlan says the bones are there.
“I’m still trying to figure out the game and learn everything about the nuances of the game, the rules and everything else,” he said. “But it’s still football. The game is the game. The rules are a bit different. But it’s still football.”
At the start of the Power’s fourth season in Pittsburgh, the team has gone 3-1, far better than in past years which Conlan says only makes his job easier.
“We just need to win,” he said. “It’s been well-received in this town. I think if we can just put some wins together – which, we definitely have the team to do it – we’ll get a lot more fans for sure and the partnerships have started to come in.”
With tickets running at less than $20 a pop, Conlan says it’s a game he encourages families to attend as well as lovers of a pass-driven offense.
“Arena football is good clean fun,” he said. “It’s fast paced. They throw the ball almost every time, so if you like offense this is where you want to be.”
The Frewsburg, NY native now lives outside of Pittsburgh with his wife and four kids but says he visits family in Buffalo often and drives through it every weekend in the fall on the way to his son Patrick’s games as the quarterback of the Hobart College football team.