Arizona Football

Tafoya: Meeting with Heeke went well; Alumni want to Help with Football Program

By Luis Aguirre Jr.

          University of Arizona football alum and six-year NFL veteran, Joe Tafoya, was on Thursday’s edition of Fox Sports 1450’s Eye on the Ball. Tafoya was drafted in the 7th round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was also selected to a Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro.

          Tafoya spoke about meeting with former alumni football players to see what they can do to help the program get over this funk. He met with UA athletics director Dave Heeke on Thursday.

It has been one week since the firing of Kevin Sumlin and Arizona needs all the help they can get. Here are a sampling of questions and answers from the interview. Be sure to click the link on the enclosed tweet.

Q: How did everything develop over the course of the week after that game?

A: We all started getting together, see what can we do, and see what we can do to get involved? What’s next? We decided to try and get organized and see if the alumni who helped build the legacy of this program could get involved and actually do something to get involved.

Q: Was one of the big problems that you guys were not involved in that way?

A: They’re several different generations of players who aren’t necessarily connected, what I’m trying to do is unite the tribes. The Dick Tomey era, your (John) Mackovic, your (Mike) Stoops, your (Rich) Rodriguez and now your (Kevin) Sumlin guys, we want to have a collective voice. I’m optimistic about the ways look right now, we have a very solid group of guys. All of us care.

Joe Tafoya on Eye on the Ball

Q: Are you too early in the process to have a sense of how you guys will to be involved and the types of things you can do and kind of what’s been on the minds of the players in terms of what they like to do?

A: Right now, we have such a large base of guys with various backgrounds. It’s a little too early to tell exactly how we can get involved and how we can help, but I do know that we’ll come to that point pretty quickly where we’ll understand what we can do. My anticipation is that we can help with the recruiting.

Q: How was it received? And, did they know, the administration that you talked to, that it had come to this where you guys weren’t part of the process?

A: It was very well received. It would’ve not been good if it wasn’t. Mr. Heeke made it a point over and over again how encouraged he is to see this many people care and want to be involved. We’re going to find a way to get involved.

Q: Were there a lot of angry players? What was the discussion like (in the player’s meeting)?

A: The meeting started off with a lot of organization and we talked about the principles that the NFL alumni association use and the direction we can potentially go and then we opened the floor for discussion. There was 300 people on the call, so it got a little chaotic. You have to listen because every voice matters from older guys to young guys.

Q: How does this go forward? You guys want this to go beyond that right?

A: Well, the real organization of it needs to happen very quickly because I don’t want to lose any momentum. I’m working with staff that are inside the athletic department, I want to have a good solid connection – put a board of directors in place. We still haven’t worked through the details on that, but we’re discussing it right now.

Q: You must have left the room today feeling a lot better than how you went in?

A: I think that was the general sentiment, I definitely feel better than when I first went in. I had some anxiety going into this meeting especially when Teddy called me and said, “hey here’s the main goal let’s try and rebuild the bridge.” I felt I had a lot of riding on it there was a lot on my shoulders.

Q: Were you the only one that met with Dave or was it a few of you guys?

A: There was a panel, the format was this, they opened up a webinar and gave access to every single alumnus that wanted access. I sent out a mass email. These are all different generations of guys. We had our own list.

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