Las Vegas Sun

October 13, 2019

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Q&A: Las Vegas Locomotives coach Jim Fassel:

On board with team name

UFL unveils Locomotives' uniforms

The upstart United Football League unveiled Las Vegas' team name, the Locomotives, and uniforms at a press conference inside the Palms on Monday morning. Launch slideshow »
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Jim Fassel

When United Football League commissioner Michael Huyghue first told Las Vegas coach Jim Fassel that his team’s name would be the Locomotives, the former NFL head coach wasn’t so sure about it.

Fassel said he didn’t understand the nickname and its ties to the city. But before long, the name had grown on Fassel.

After the UFL’s press conference to unveil the Las Vegas team name and jersey Monday at the Palms, Fassel took time to speak with the Las Vegas Sun one-on-one. He discussed the name, his attraction to Las Vegas and starting quarterback J.P. Losman.

He also talked about how the Locomotives will deal with living and practicing in Phoenix, but playing their two home games in Las Vegas. Both the UFL’s western teams, San Francisco and Las Vegas, will be based out of Phoenix.

Sun: What do you like about being called the Locomotives?

Jim Fassel: I think it has a history in it about Las Vegas. I think it opens your mind and gets you educated. I had no idea about that. When you talk about the railroad coming through here, it was a big part of Las Vegas getting started. I know we are going way back. But to me it shows the innovativeness of wanting history and some tradition. Everything is tied to the gaming industry here. We didn’t have to follow that trail.

Sun: What was it about Las Vegas that made you want to coach here?

Jim Fassel: It’s a town that I think will be captivated by what we’re going to produce on the field. I think they’ll love it. I think it’s an event town. I think it’s a great place to live and most of my staff was going to be West Coast people. I’m from the West Coast and it’s a great location. I have had a lot of friends live here and still live here and they say it’s a great town to live in. Everyone comes here to party for three or four days then goes home, which I had done for a lot of years, too.

Sun: So what’s it like to come here and see your face on billboards?

Jim Fassel: We’re driving in and (Fassel’s girlfriend) Mary goes, “dude, you’re on the billboard.” I kind of glanced it. I had seen my face on billboards before, but I didn’t know. No one told me they were up there. Every place I’ve ever worked, I’ve wanted to be involved in the community. I’m looking forward to that.

Sun: What are the positives and negatives about the way your team will have to travel this year?

Jim Fassel: It’s going to work out all right. We only have one trip east and we’re playing them back-to-back. We’ve got one game in Orlando and one game in New York. I’d rather do it back-to-back than take a trip and a week later and go back to the other one. We’ll play Orlando, stay there, then fly to New York for the game and come home. We’ll fly over (to Las Vegas) once and bus over here once, then go to L.A. and San Francisco. So it’s not going to be a tremendous problem.

Sun: J.P. Losman, what will make him a successful quarterback?

Jim Fassel: First of all, he’s got incredible physical talent. He’s got a strong arm and he can move. Next, he’s really into football. He’s smart and he’s got such a burning desire to be good. That’s why he’s coming into this league. His agent said they wanted him to come and said, “Jim, you’ve helped more than one quarterback’s career now. You’ve resurrected more than one of them and we want you to get him back on target and get him back his confidence.”

Sun: Where other leagues have failed, where will this one succeed?

Jim Fassel: The other leagues set a course of how they would operate and then they lose their compass. Mainly, it’s financial. They start throwing money around wildly and they lose money. I don’t think, like the XFL, there was too much weird stuff. Football traditional people don’t buy that stuff. They just don’t. I want to go watch a real football game with real football players. I think starting with four teams gives us a good opportunity to grow. And no other league has hired veteran NFL head coaches. That will attract better players.

Sun: What is the biggest challenge for this league in year one?

Jim Fassel: There’s going to be some oddities to it. San Francisco isn’t going to be in San Francisco, we’re not going to be in Vegas. We’re going to come here to play a couple of games. People want to feel like that’s their team and we want them to feel that way, but realize guys, that we’re coming. We’re going to be here and we want to be part of the fabric of the community. This is the premiere season so come have some fun and watch us play and get behind us. We’re your team. You’re not coming to watch some practice games, you’re coming to watch the real games in the season. This league is going to work, so we’re going to be here. We’re going to be here for a long time.