Dean Cokinos has been around the game for awhile.
The new head coach of Washington's yet-to-be-named expansion Arena Football League team has been a part of indoor football for over a decade, and has had a chance to coach against several players who went on to have lengthy NFL careers.
But one name stands out out in particular, one who, while never made it in the NFL as a player, has had a pretty large impact on the Washington, D.C. area as a head coach.
"The best AFL player I've ever seen? Quarterback Jay Gruden," Cokinos said to CSN Mid-Atlantic on Monday afternoon. "Hands down. He was fantastic. he was a champion. He won. All he did was win. He was a pure thrower, a great Arena Football League player. He was a champion."
Gruden played in the AFL for three season, in 1996 with the Tampa Bay Storm then from 2002 until 2003 with the Orlando Predators. He also served as the Predators' head coach from 1998 until 2001 and from 2004 until 2008. Cokinos was across the field from Gruden fairly regularly during that time, coaching for the San Angelo Stampede, Nashville Kats and Tennessee Valley Vipers.
But Gruden is just one of the many names to emerge from the AFL.
There was former Kentucky quarterback and back quarterback for the Super Bowl XLIX champion New York Giants Jared "The Hefty Lefty" Lorenzen.
"I coached against him," Cokinos said exuberantly. "Man he was a big guy, but boy could he play." Lorenzen has since become something of a folk legend, playing in lower levels of indoor football while tipping the scales at well over 300 pounds.
But Lorenzen was not just the only Super Bowl-winning quarterback to have a stint in the AFL.
"There have been so many good players. Kurt Warner played in the league, everyone knows him. He did great things at the next level."
But we've had some great players in the league, and that's what we are looking for here."