Memphis Showboats head coach John DeFilippo is ready to run onto the field

Head coach John DeFilippo, New Orleans Breakers
Head coach John DeFilippo, 2023 USFL New Orleans Breakers.

At the start of the 2023 USFL season, Breakers head coach John DeFilippo was dealing with health issues. Still, he managed to run onto the field, something he has done his whole career.

DeFilippo was diagnosed with a rare condition called ankylosing spondylitis in early 2023. He spent six days at the Mayo Clinic, with doctors warning him he may never walk unassisted again. The condition made it very difficult for DeFilippo to walk, let alone run. But DeFilippo vowed to run onto the field before his first game as head coach. It was an emotional moment that demonstrated DeFilippo’s resolve to continue to do his job despite adversity.

“I always run onto the field. I’ve done it since the first game I coached, which would have been Fordham at Towson at home back in fall of 2000,” DeFilippo explained. “I sprinted on the field for that game and I’ll sprint on the field for this one.”

“Last year at this time I was in rough shape,” DeFilippo said. “It was just hard standing on the sidelines. But this year I feel so much better. I’ve had unbelievable care from the doctors at the Mayo Clinic and they’ve been with me every step of the way. I can’t thank them enough.”

Along with their coach, just try to stop the Showboats players, who surely will be running onto the field, especially considering how confident they are as they begin the 2024 UFL season. But how do you convert confidence into success?

“It all goes back to confidence in your preparation, and if you’re confident in your preparation, you feel really good,” DeFilippo said. “Many of our players have been in pro football for a while and they get confident by having a routine down. They know what time to go to bed, what day their massages are, and they know when they look at third down we’re gonna look at redzone.”

DeFilippo is referring to the hours of preparation under his players’ belts to back up any confidence they have.

“I feel very good about where we are Installation wise,” DeFilippo said. “As a coach, I loved that extra week of camp. I know the players probably dreaded it, but I wish we could have four weeks every year.”

In the remainder of the week, the Memphis Showboats will work on their third-down short-yardage goal line procedures on Thursday and then practice their red zone two-minute drill on Friday. Then, on Saturday, they will take a bus from Arlington to Houston and get settled into their hotel in time for a relaxed team meal.

“I like the guys to be able to chill and get off their feet and relax on Saturday night,” DeFilippo explained. “I’m pretty loose. So, I want to keep it loose.”

The Showboats also look forward to their week two game, which will take place in Memphis.

“You always want your fans and their energy, and all of that is giving back to the community and being engaged with your fan base,” DeFilippo said. “We’re gonna do whatever is asked of us. But, at the same time, our purpose of going to Memphis will be to win at the end of the day.”

The Memphis Showboats will play their first game of the 2024 UFL season in Houston on Sunday, March 31, at 3:00 PM ET. In week two, they will host the San Antonio Brahmas in Memphis, for their first home game on Saturday, April 6, at 12:00 PM (ET).

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