Asif Ali (American football)
Ali in promotional photo for the Falcons (July 2018)
|Born:||April 2, 1990|
|Height:||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight:||155 lb (70 kg)|
|High school:||Foothill High School|
|College:||West Valley College|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career Arena statistics|
Asif Zulfiqar Ali (born April 2, 1990) is an American football coach and former wide receiver and special teamer who currently serves as offensive assistant coach at Whitney High School. Ali most recently was a member of the professional minor league franchise, the Chicago Falcons of the Royal Ironman Football League. He has also played for the San Jose Sabercats, Stockton Wolves, and California Eagles of the AFL, af2, and American Indoor Football leagues. Ali is the first Arena football player and executive of Pakistani descent, as well as the first person to serve simultaneously as player and general manager in the professional Arena football and minor leagues. Ali is regarded by some as one of the greatest special teams players in RIFL & AIFA history 
- 1 Early Years
- 2 College Career
- 3 Professional career
- 3.1 San Jose SaberCats (2010)
- 3.2 Stockton Wolves (2011)
- 3.3 California Eagles (2012)
- 3.4 Chicago Falcons (2018)
- 3.5 Illinois Carnage (2019)
- 3.6 Windy City Watchers (2019)
- 4 Retirement
- 5 Coaching career
- 6 Player Profile & Legacy
- 7 Personal life
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early Years[edit | edit source]
Ali was born April 2, 1990 in Fremont, California, the third of four siblings. Ali attended Foothill High School in Pleasanton, California and graduated in 2008, but did not participate in football as a result of athletic ineligibility.
College Career[edit | edit source]
San Jose City College (2008)[edit | edit source]
Having not played in high school, Ali then spent his freshman season at San Jose City College as a walk-on, playing slot receiver and special teams under Coach Keith "K-Dubb" Williams, who was fellow wide receiver James Jones' coach at San Jose State. Ali left the team prior to the start of the regular season due to personal reasons.
West Valley College (2009)[edit | edit source]
After Coach Williams left SJCC for Fresno State, Ali then enrolled at West Valley College in Saratoga, California during the 2009–10 season, playing slotback and special teams for the football team, replicating the same career trajectory as current NCAA coach Jason Tarver. Ali did not see any playing time at slot receiver, and played the majority of his reps at special teams. Although the Vikings completed their first ever 0-10 season in school history, Ali earned the Vikings All-Iron award for his efforts on special teams at the conclusion of the 2009 season.
Professional career[edit | edit source]
Ali opted out of transferring to a four year, forfeiting his final two years of college eligibility to tryout for the professional leagues. During the 2010 offseason, Ali trained with Adam Tafralis and Rufus Skillern at Paye's Place in San Carlos, California.
San Jose SaberCats (2010)[edit | edit source]
After failing to get much traction on scouts' radars and going undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft, Ali tried out with the newly formed af2 team, the San Jose Wolves. Ali registered a 4.54 40 yard dash at the combine but was not signed. Ali then signed with the San Jose Sabercats for the 2010 off-season as a member of the practice squad while they were undergoing an organizational re-alignment to rejoin the AFL. Ali remained on the training camp roster and was released during final cuts prior to the start of the 2011 season.
Stockton Wolves (2011)[edit | edit source]
Ali then worked out for the professional indoor franchise, the Stockton Wolves, in the 2011 offseason, but was not signed by the team. Ali remained an unsigned free agent until the Wolves re-branded as the California Eagles in 2012.
California Eagles (2012)[edit | edit source]
Ali was on the Eagles' practice squad and was activated to the active roster during the inaugural 2012 season.
2012 regular season[edit | edit source]
Ali played in all 5 games and registered 8 tackles and 5 blocks on Special Teams. Ali's best single-season performance on special teams came in Week 4, where he registered 3 tackles and 2 blocks on both kick-off and punt return against the Arizona Outlaws. Ali finished the regular season with 11 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown, which contributed to the 3-2 regular season record, en route to the Eagles representing the Western Conference as a replacement for the suspended Western Conference Champion Ontario Warriors, and advanced to the AIFA Championship game where they faced the Cape Fear Heroes, who were entering the game as heavy favorites, as the first undefeated team in AIFA history at 8-0.
2012 AIFA Championship Game[edit | edit source]
Ali made key plays on special-teams with 3 tackles on kick-off and had 3 receptions for 24 yards in the 2012 AIFA Championship game. However it was a 79-27 loss for the Eagles to the Heroes, who completed the first ever perfect undefeated season at 9-0 in AIFA history. Ali was named All-AIF Special Teams First-Team selection and Cal Eagles Special Teams Player of the Year at the conclusion of the season. 
Chicago Falcons (2018)[edit | edit source]
After the Eagles folded in 2013, Ali remained an unsigned free agent for five seasons thereafter until signing with the independent minor league & semi-professional football team, the Chicago Falcons on April 19, 2018, for the 2018 season.
2018 regular season[edit | edit source]
Ali made his preseason debut in first quarter opening kick-off against the Chicago Cardinals on April 22nd. Ali saw action on special teams and at slot in the fourth quarter and registered a block for a five yard run by Falcons' All-Star running back Christopher Blackmon against the Joliet Buccaneers on May 6th, the Falcons' first win of the season (16-6). Ali registered his first reception of the season for 22 yards, followed up by another reception for 8 yards in his regular season debut, a home game against the Chicago Blaze on May 19th. Ali followed up with a key block on special-teams, setting up a 36-yard kick-off return for the Falcons against the Southern Lake Blue Devils on June 2nd in Salem, Wisconsin. Ali had a key block on punt against the Kalamazoo Titans, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, setting up a 46 yard punt on July 6th. Ali registered a tackle on opening kick-off against the Madison Mad Dawgs on July 27th, in which he sustained a minor concussion from a knee to the helmet during the hit out of bounds. Ali capped off the 2018 season with assisting in a fumble recovery on kickoff against the eventual RIFL champions, the Midway Marauders, on August 4th.
2018 RIFL Playoffs[edit | edit source]
Ali played special teams and saw action at slot in the 2018 RIFL conference championship game round of the playoffs on October 6th, and registered a key block for a six yard run for a first down by Falcons' All-Star running back Christopher Blackmon. The Falcons ultimately fell in a 37-0 blowout loss to the Southern Lake Blue Devils in Salem, Wisconsin, who went on to lose to the eventual RIFL Champions, the Midway Marauders 57-14 in the 2018 RIFL championship game the following weekend. Ali ended his career with a playoff record of 0-2 with both an appearance in the championship & conference championship game respectively, by a combined margin of defeat of 116-27.
2018 RIFL-NEFL All-Star Game[edit | edit source]
At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Ali finished with 2 receptions for 30 yards, and was selected to participate in the 2018 RIFL-NEFL All-Star Game for his special teams contributions at the Woodside Sports Complex in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin on October 27th. The RIFL All-Stars faced the NEFL All-Stars and ultimately lost 14-18. Ali ended the 2018 season with setting the single season record for most consecutive starts and games played by a Falcons Special Teams player. In addition to the All-Star selection, Ali was selected to All-First Team for his contributions on special-teams, and was named RIFL Comeback Player of the Year. 
Illinois Carnage (2019)[edit | edit source]
At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Ali was released from the Falcons and signed with the semi-professional & minor league team, the Illinois Carnage of the Unified Football League on October 11, 2018 for the 2019 UFL season.
Windy City Watchers (2019)[edit | edit source]
Ali left the Carnage and formed the minor league & semi-professional team, the Windy City Watchers, on February 12, 2019, serving as player-coach.
Retirement[edit | edit source]
After not appearing in a single preseason game with the Watchers, Ali announced his retirement from playing football in an Instagram post on March 16, 2019 after 6 seasons of arena, semi-professional, & minor league football.
Coaching career[edit | edit source]
Whitney High School (2019)[edit | edit source]
Ali joined Whitney High School in Rocklin, CA as a member of the coaching staff as varsity offensive assistant on May 3, 2019 .
Player Profile & Legacy[edit | edit source]
Ali wore the number 81 his entire playing career from college to the professional ranks, (with the exception of preseason where he wore numbers 84, 14, and 6), and played slot receiver, cornerback, and special teams. While Ali's primary position was slot receiver, he typically saw time on special teams and occasionally was used at corner to rush during blitz packages. Additionally, Ali, who is known for being undersized at his unusually small build at 155 pounds, wasn't as athletically gifted as most other wide receivers of his era. As such, Ali relied heavily on his blocking effort and special teams play to make an impact on games.
Aside from Gibran Hamdan, who was the first and only American football player of Pakistani descent to have played in the NFL, Ali is the first and only American football player of Pakistani descent to have played in the Arena Football League, af2, AIFA, semi-professional, and minor leagues. While most games in the lower tier Arena, semi-professional, and minor league football ranks weren't nationally televised, Ali's comeback season in 2018 brought much attention to semi-professional & minor league football in the Midwest region of the United States to people of the Pakistani subcontinent, and he is credited for helping professionalize the sport as an executive during his time with the Falcons, Carnage, and Watchers. Upon his departure from the Carnage in 2019, many players and fans of the team proceeded to burn his #81 Falcons jersey, the first ever occurrence of a jersey burning for any player in Semi-professional football history . Ali is also credited for his community service work in the inner cities and the greater Chicago area during his time as executive. Ali is the only player to have served as owner, coach, and GM for two different semi-professional & minor league franchises, those being the Carnage and the Watchers respectively.
While Ali spent most of his career as a journeyman, and never spent more than one season with any single team, Ali is the only player to have earned first-team special teams honors with a collegiate program, arena football team, and a semi-professional / minor league franchise in alternating years, (2009, 2012, & 2018), in addition to both Special Teams Player of the Year in 2012, and Comeback Player of the Year in 2018. In addition, Ali received honorary rings from both the Falcons and his alma mater West Valley College & California State University, East Bay in 2019 for his contributions on & off the field . Due to his numerous accolades and achievements, Ali is widely regarded as being one of the greatest special teams players in RIFL & AIFA history, and arguably in all of arena football, semi-professional, and minor league football history.
Personal life[edit | edit source]
Ali is the third of four siblings and is a Muslim. During his time in free agency from 2013–17, Ali transferred from West Valley and completed both his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Healthcare Administration from California State University, East Bay in 2014 and 2017. Ali was previously employed for UnitedHealth Group and Tata Consultancy Services, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Texas, GlobalLogic and now works as a Product Owner for Humac, in Phoenix, Arizona, addition to acting as Founder and CEO for his own consulting firm, ATC Consulting, LLC.
Ali was engaged briefly to a woman in 2018 which broke off mid-season, which Ali cited along with his teammates' support, as the major source of inspiration to his All-Star & Comeback Player of the Year season with the Falcons.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- "Asif Ali - Director of Operations / General Manager". www.hometeamsonline.com.
- "TT Dec 06-Jan 07" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-06-21.
- "Presenting the class of 2008 - June 6, 2008 - Pleasanton Weekly - PleasantonWeekly.com -". www.pleasantonweekly.com.
- "Team History »". thesanjosesabercats.com.
- "Asif Ali - Player Profile". www.chicagofalconfootball.com.
- "Asif Ali - Player Profile". www.chicagofalconfootball.com.
- "Chicago Falcons Spring 2018 Roster". www.hometeamsonline.com.
[edit | edit source]
- Chicago Falcons' player bio
- Chicago Falcons' executive bio
- Cal Eagles Bio
- West Valley College Football hudl page
- Hudl page
- LinkedIn profile
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