Pittsburgh Maulers head coach Ray Horton has constantly been writing as of late. His pencil always needs to be sharp. The three-time Super Bowl champion and former Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach was hired late in the USFL offseason and has to make up for the lost time.
He’s swamped with draft prep, ironing out his roster, and crafting playbooks, but the opportunity to return to a friendly region was too good to pass up. More importantly, Horton is paired back up with his son, Jarren. The latter is heading into his second go-round as the Maulers’ defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. The two last served on the same staff in Cleveland in 2016, when Ray was the Browns’ defensive coordinator and Jarren a coaching assistant.
“It was an easy slide-in for me to go, ‘Wow, what a great opportunity to work with my son,’” Ray told Steelers Now Thursday afternoon. “At his age — 30 — I was still playing football. He has so much more knowledge of football than I did at that age. It’s amazing to watch a young kid that grew up around have that kind of knowledge. Obviously, he was paying attention when I was playing and coaching.”
While the elder Horton was with the Steelers — the lengthiest of his seven NFL assistant coaching stops — Jarren went to school in Pittsburgh. Ray also spent most of his professional playing career with Cincinnati Bengals, completing the three points on what he’s termed “The Triangle.” The Maulers will play their home games in Canton this season after being stationed in Birmingham in 2022.
“It’s a great opportunity to get back to familiar ground and be able to hopefully impart what the area is used to — winning football,” he said. “They expect and they want winners, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
This is Ray’s first head coaching gig. He views the role with the same sort of simplicity as his other experiences. The amount of responsibility is ramped up. He now oversees the coaches and each of the three facets of the game. Yet, even the increased logistics haven’t been too complicated.
“I keep saying, ‘It’s football,’” Ray said. “I’ve been playing football since I was, I don’t know, six years old, maybe. And I’ve been involved with professional football for 30-plus years. It’s still football. Really, what you’re doing is managing men.”
Ray Horton doesn’t view the job as a stepping stone but as a chance to soak in a unique experience.
“I think the ultimate thing for me will be coaching with my son,” Horton said. “I think it’s so cool to be able to potentially have a legacy … The Belichicks have a legacy, the Grudens have a legacy, the Carrolls have a legacy, the Shanahans have a legacy, and the Hacketts have a legacy.”
The Maulers open their regular season against the New Orleans Breakers on Sunday, April 16. They’ll play against their hub neighbors, the New Jersey Generals, in Canton the following week. For USFL ticket information, fans can visit theUSFL.com. Go to the Canton “TICKETS” section to make a $25 deposit and get priority access to games at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.