In contrast to the National Football League's rugged and fierce play, often in the most severe climates, the Arena Football League is fast-paced and played exclusively indoors. Other differences include the NFL's 32 teams vs. the AFL's 18 teams, and the former's fall/winter schedule vs. the latter's spring/summer season (from March to July). The levels of pay are also different. Coaches in the Arena Football League do not receive the multimillion-dollar yearly salaries that NFL coaches do.
The Distribution System
Unlike the NFL, where the average coach's salary is $3.25 million as of 2011, according to Professional Sports Representation president and founder Bob Lamonte, the Arena Football League allots teams $100,000 to distribute among its coaches. Thus, a head coach could take $75,000 as a salary and leave the remainder to be divided up among the assistant coaches. How much each coach earns is determined by the individual team. Each team has roughly four or five coaches. Some teams opt to pay only three coaches and have the remaining coaches work on a volunteer basis.
The highest-paid NFL coach as of 2011 is the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick, with an annual salary of $7.5 million. Arena Football League coaches are the lowest paid among U.S. professional football coaches. Coaches in the United Football League earn approximately $500,000 yearly as of 2009.
The AFL mandates that teams sign head coaches to a minimum one-year contract. Contracts in the league are not as long as those of National Football League coaches. In 2009, as a result of an economic recession and financial loss, the league canceled its season and coaches such as Philadelphia Soul head coach Mike Hohensee had to collect unemployment benefits.
In addition to their salaries, AFL coaches receive free housing, utilities and meals. These items are defrayed by each team. In some cases, as was the case with Tim Marcum, who leads the league in wins, housing allowances are as much $12,000. Travel to games and hotel stays are also paid by the teams.