Portland AFL Team

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For the defunct World Football League team known as the "Thunder" in 1975, see Portland Storm.
Portland AFL Team
Current season
Established 2013
Play in Moda Center
in Portland, Oregon
League/conference affiliations

Arena Football League (2014–present)

Team colors TBA
Owner(s) Terry Emmert (2014-2016)
Arena Football League (2016-present)
President Vacant
Head coach Ron James
Team history
  • Portland Thunder (2014–2016)
League championships (0)
Conference championships (0)
Division championships (0)
Playoff appearances (2)
2014, 2015
Home arena(s)

The Portland Arena Football League Team are a professional arena football team based in Portland, Oregon. They are a member of the National Conference of the Arena Football League (AFL). The team started as the Portland Thunder, joining the AFL in 2014 as an expansion team along with the Los Angeles Kiss. They were founded and originally owned by Terry Emmert until January 6, 2016, when the AFL claimed that Emmert "failed to meet league requirements" and assumed operational control of the franchise while seeking new ownership. Since their inception, the team have played their home games at the Moda Center.

The franchise will start from scratch and will no longer be called the "Thunder" as the name and trademarks belong to former franchise owner Emmert. AFL commissioner Scott Butera announced that a new franchise identity will be announced at a later date. [1]


Expansion/Birth of the Portland Thunder (2013)[edit]

Portland Thunder logo (2014-2016)

On October 2, 2013, a press conference was held at the Moda Center where it was announced that sports investor Terry Emmert had purchased the membership rights to an AFL franchise.[2] Emmert purchased the Milwaukee Mustangs, who had been a defunct franchise since the 2012 season. This essentially gave Emmert the right to an expansion franchise, since none of the team's Milwaukee roots remain.[3] When asked what the biggest challenge to running a new franchise was, team president Jared Rose said, "Getting new fans to buy into something that the market really hasn’t seen before. Any new product launch is difficult, but we’ve got an exciting product that once people see it, they are hooked."[4]

The Thunder's home field at the Moda Center during a game against the San Jose SaberCats in 2014.

On November 8, 2013 the franchise announced that the nicknames, "Thunder", "Enforcers", "Sasquatch", "Growlers" and "Stomp" were the finalist for the team.[5] Six days later, Emmert revealed the team's nickname would be the "Thunder."[6][7] The Thunder nickname has history in Portland dating back to the 1975 Portland Thunder, who played at Civic Stadium as members of the World Football League (WFL).[8] John Canzano, sports columnist for The Oregonian, wrote that a "team source" indicated that team owner Terry Emmert selected the team's nickname himself, despite claiming that fans would have the ultimate say. According to Canzano's source the "Growlers" nickname was the most popular among voters followed by the "Sasquatch".[9]

Inaugural season (2014)[edit]

Helmet logo from the first season (2014)

The Portland Thunder began their training camp and held a media day on February 25, 2014. On March 1, the team held an intra-squad scrimmage for season ticket holders at Tualatin Indoor Soccer in Tualatin, Oregon. Their first game occurred on March 17 against the San Jose SaberCats at the Moda Center.[10]

On February 12, 2014 it was announced that the Thunder had signed former Portland State Vikings wide receiver Justin Monahan, who is a native of West Linn, Oregon.[11] The Thunder have former Oregon Ducks quarterback Darron Thomas on their inaugural roster. When asked about being assigned to Portland, Thomas said, "That was one of the main reasons I came back and accepted this opportunity to come here, just for the fans and I know people are behind me [...] I'm coming in to compete and be the starter and that's what I came out here for."[12]

The Thunder played their first game on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, as 8,509 people came to the Moda Center to see the team lose 64-34 to the San Jose SaberCats. The team started 0-5 before beating the Jacksonville Sharks 69-62 on the road in week 7. After starting 0-4 at home, the Thunder won their first game in Portland in week 11, beating the San Antonio Talons 55-40. Despite finishing 5-13, including an 0-6 divisional record and an even more ghastly 2-11 conference record, the National Conference was so weak, the Thunder slipped into the playoffs. In the conference semifinals, the Thunder actually led 48-45 with less than a minute left, before a miracle finish caused them to lose to the 2-time reigning champion Arizona Rattlers, 52-48. On September 23, 2014, the Thunder fired head Coach Matthew Sauk. [13] Days later, the team announced the hiring of former Iowa Barnstormers head coach Mike Hohensee.

Second season (2015)[edit]

Helmet logo from the second season (2015)

The team finished with the same results in 2015, finishing 5-13. Originally the team finished behind Las Vegas in the playoff race. However, as the AFL folded Las Vegas after the season, they had amazingly slipped into the playoffs again. They lost to the San Jose SaberCats. On August 24, 2015, head coach Mike Hohensee and his coaching staff mutually agreed to part ways. [14]

On September 11, 2015, the Thunder agreed to terms to hire former Spokane Shock head coach Andy Olson as its third head coach in three years. [15]

League takeover (2016)[edit]

On January 6, 2016, the AFL announced that they took over operations of the Portland Thunder from owner Terry Emmert.[16] Emmert told the Portland Tribune newspaper that the future of the team was up in the air because he was concerned with the league's medical insurance policies and was hoping to try and attract more investors to help fund the team.[17] This prompted league officials and the board of directors to take control of the franchise and look for new owners.[18] The league also decided to fire Andy Olson and his entire coaching staff before Olson could even coach a down for the Thunder and replaced them on January 30, 2016, with former Las Vegas Gladiators, Utah Blaze and Pittsburgh Power head coach Ron James. James was also named the team's general manager.

End of the "Thunder", enter a new name[edit]

In 2014, now-former franchise owner Terry Emmert had trademarked the Thunder name, logo, color scheme and identity (similar to what Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did with the identity of the now-defunct Dallas Desperados in the early 2000's). As of February 3, 2016, Emmert still legally owns the trademarks of the team, despite reports to the contrary, and has no intentions of selling them to the league. [19]

As a result, the AFL decided that the team will have a new identity in 2016 season. However, unlikely previously reported, even though the name and owner has changed, it is still the same team that started in 2014. AFL commissioner Scott Butera said that a new name will be chosen "soon". [20] Because Emmert owns the rights to the name Thunder there is a possibility of a return of the Thunder name to the AFL or a new team named Thunder joining the Indoor Football League, but only if the Portland AFL franchise fails in 2016.

Players of note[edit]

Portland AFL roster


  • Currently vacant

Wide receivers

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs


Injured reserve
  • Currently vacant

Other League Exempt

League suspension

Inactive reserve

  • Currently vacant

Team suspension

  • Currently vacant

Refused to report

  • Currently facant

Recallable reassignment

  • Currently vacant

Rookies in italics
updated February 13, 2016
38 Active, 7 Inactive

More rosters


Portland AFL staff
Front Office
  • Owner – Arena Football League
  • President/CEO – Vacant
  • General Manager - Ron James
  • Director of Player Personnel - Vacant
  • Director of Scouting - Vacant
  Head Coach

Offensive Coaches

  • Wide Receivers - Vacant

Defensive Coaches

  • Defensive Coordinator - Vacant
  • Defensive Lineman - Vacant
Sports Medicine
  • Head Athletic Trainer – Vacant
  • Team Physician – Vacant
  • Team Physician – Vacant
  • Team Internist – Vacant
  • Team Neurologist – Vacant

Head coach[edit]

On October 8, 2013, Matthew Sauk was named the Thunder's inaugural head coach.[21] Sauk had previously worked for the Utah Blaze, where he served as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator.[21] Following the team's inaugural season, in which Sauk led Portland to a 5–13 record, Sauk was dismissed as head coach and replaced by Mike Hohensee.[22] On August 24, 2015, Hohensee suffered the same exact fate as he and his staff mutually agreed to part ways after he coached the team to an identical 5-13 record and a second trip to the playoffs.[23] On September 11, 2015, Andy Olson was named the team's third head coach in franchise history.[24] On January 30, 2016, Ron James replaced Olson as head coach.

Coaching record[edit]

Name Term Regular Season Playoffs Awards
W L T Win% W L
Matthew Sauk 2014 5 13 0 .278 0 1
Mike Hohensee 2015 5 13 0 .278 0 1
Andy Olson Did not coach 0 0 0 0 0
Ron James 2016 0 0 0 0 0

Season-by-season records[edit]

ArenaBowl Champions Conference Champions Division Champions Playoff Berth
Season League Conference Division Regular season Postseason results
Finish Wins Losses
Portland Thunder
2014 AFL National Pacific 3rd 5 13 Lost Conference Semifinals (Arizona) 48–52
2015 AFL National Pacific 3rd 5 13 Lost Conference Semifinals (San Jose) 28–55
Total 10 26 (includes only regular season)
0 2 (includes only the postseason)
10 28 (includes both regular season and postseason)


On March 11, 2014, the Thunder came to a local television deal with Comcast SportsNet Northwest. Scott Lynn will do play-by-play, Jordan Kent will be color analyst and Megan Berrey will serve as sideline reporter. (CSNNW is not carried on DirecTV or Dish Network.) [25][26] They also announced a radio deal with KXTG Sports Radio 750 AM with Jeremy Scott on the play-by-play and Brian Perkins as color analyst.[27]

All television and radio deals have moved over to the new Portland franchise on February 3, 2016.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ AFL Commissioner Butera promises 'outstanding team' for Portland in 2016, Steve Brandon, Portland Tribune, February 3, 2016
  2. ^ Don Walker (October 2, 2013). "Milwaukee Mustangs bound for Portland". www.jsonline.com. Journal Sentinel, Inc. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  3. ^ Nick Daschel (October 2, 2013). "Arena Football League takes another shot at Portland". www.oregonlive.com. Oregon Live LLC. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Football is coming to Portland - An interview with Portland Thunder Team President Jared Rose". OregonSportsNews.com. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Portland's Arena Football League team narrows nickname contest to five finalists". www.oregonlive.com. Oregon Live LLC. November 8, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Portland Announces Thunder as Team Name". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. November 12, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Portland announces Thunder as AFL team name". www.oregonlive.com. Oregon Live LLC. November 12, 2013. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  8. ^ Dwight Jaynes (November 12, 2013). "The Portland Thunder? Been there and done that... in 1975". www.csnnw.com. Comcast Sports Management Services, LLC. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  9. ^ Canzano blog: Portland's Arena Football League team fumbles name, John Canzano, The Oregonian website, February 12, 2014
  10. ^ Odem, Joel (31 January 2014). "Portland Thunder to begin training camp Feb. 25". OregonLive.com. Portland, Oregon: The Oregonian. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  11. ^ "Portland Thunder sign former Portland State WR Justin Monahan". OregonLive.com. Portland, Oregon: The Oregonian. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Q&A with former Oregon Ducks quarterback Darron Thomas". OregonLive.com. Portland, Oregon: The Oregonian. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  13. ^ Portland Thunder Part Ways With Matthew Sauk, Portland Thunder website, September 23, 2014
  14. ^ Thunder & Coach Hohensee Part Ways, Portland Thunder website, August 25, 2015
  15. ^ Thunder Announce Andy Olson as Head Coach, Portland Thunder website, September 11, 2015
  16. ^ League Takes Over Operations of Portland Thunder, ArenaFootball.com, January 6, 2016
  17. ^ Thunder's AFL future up in the air, Kerry Eggers, Portland Tribune, January 1, 2016
  18. ^ Arena Football League Takes Ownership of Portland Thunder Away From Terry Emmert, Aaron Mesh, Willamette Week, January 6, 2016
  19. ^ PORTLAND THUNDER PDX, Incentively.com
  20. ^ AFL Commissioner Butera promises 'outstanding team' for Portland in 2016, Steve Brandon, Portland Tribune, February 3, 2016
  21. ^ a b "Portland Names Matthew Sauk Head Coach". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. October 8, 2013. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  22. ^ Eggers, Kerry (September 30, 2014). "Hohensee takes reins of Portland Thunder". PortlandTribune. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  23. ^ Steve Brandon (August 24, 2015). "Thunder drop Mike Hohensee as coach". www.portlandtribune.com. Portland Tribune. Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  24. ^ Steve Brandon (September 11, 2015). "Portland Thunder hire Andy Olson as coach". www.portlandtribune.com. Portland Tribune. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  25. ^ Thunder, CSNNW Ink Multiyear Partnership, PortlandThunder.com, March 11, 2014
  26. ^ CSN & Portland Thunder ink multi-year TV deal, CSNNW.com, March 11, 2014
  27. ^ Thunder, 750 AM Announce Thunder Radio Crew, PortlandThunder.com, March 12, 2014

External links[edit]