San Antonio Gunslingers announce new head coach, general manager

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — The San Antonio Gunslingers are announcing a change at the top on the heels of the 2023 season that ended with a playoff loss to the Carolina Cobras less than a month ago.

At a Thursday press conference, the franchise announced the hiring of Tom Menas, a former player on the 1985 San Antonio Gunslingers of the USFL. Menas makes his way back to San Antonio after 38 years to both lead the team on the field as head coach and the organization as general manager.

Most recently, Menas was the head coach and general manager of the National Arena League’s Albany Empire. During his first season with the team he led them to the 2021 National Arena League championship. Then he backed that up to win the championship again in 2022, the only team to win back-to-back championships in league history.

Menas replaces head coach Fred Shaw, who led the Gunslingers to a 5-0 start last season.

But the Gunslingers fell apart down the stretch, losing their last four consecutive games. The last three losses all came against the Cobras, including San Antonio’s lone playoff game in Carolina on August 5, 2023.

Menas, a native of Michigan, played 5 years of college football as a starter guard at Kansas State. While there, his team brought the university its first bowl game in the history of the school (1978 – 1983).

In 1983, Menas joined the Detroit Lions (NFL) but suffered an injury that prematurely ended his NFL career. The day after being released from the Lions, he got a call and was signed by the San Antonio Gunslingers (USFL).

After retiring from pro football, Coach Menas used what he learned from his time in college and professional football to transition into the indoor football world. During the 90’s through 2003 he coached with several AFL teams including in his home state with the Detroit Fury.

Menas then joined the CFL (Canadian Football League) Toronto Argonauts from 2004 to 2006 as the defensive line coach, helping the team win the Grey Cup in 2004. He was then engaged in various private coach consulting engagements for a multitude of teams at all professional
levels.

From 2015 to 2017, Menas was appointed head coach for Michigan’s Oakland University where he won a NCFA National Championship and amassed a record of 23-1.

In 2019 he signed with the Green Bay Blizzard (IFL) as assistant coach helping the Blizzard reach its first playoff appearance in 7 years as OL and DL coach.

In 2020 and 2021, Menas served as assistant head coach of the New Jersey Flight (NAL).

Prior to the 2021 season, Menas was asked to lead the Albany Empire (NAL) football program. With less than 2 weeks to prepare, he constructed a team that would go on to only lose one game and win the championship against the Columbus Lions.

In 2022, he again led the Albany Empire to the championship game and beat the Carolina Cobras 47-20. During these two seasons, his players enjoyed receiving top awards for their performances. Albany Empire is the only team to win back-to-back championships in National Arena League history.

Over the course of his 55 years in football, Menas is honored to have been a part of 12 championships throughout his career. He will begin working immediately to prepare for the 2024 season as he feels strongly that championships are won in September, not August.

Gunslingers CEO and owner, Don Rackler, said “I am extremely proud to have a coach of this caliber be a part of our organization. Coach Menas brings tremendous experience and wisdom. He knows how to win championships and I am certain he will help us build an extremely competitive team in 2024 and beyond.”

President and co-owner, James Steubing had this to say, “Coach Menas’ credentials speak for themselves. He is a man who knows how to play indoor football and inspire his players to win. I am very excited to work alongside him and build a powerful championship team.”

Menas says, “I am anxious to show the indoor football world the difference between Texas football and how it’s played everywhere else.”

When asked what his goals are, “I have only one goal. To bring San Antonio and its fans their first professional football championship in 2024.”

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