© 2023 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Cleveland Amateur Football Team President Resigns Over Loehmann Controversy

The president of the Cleveland Warriors, the local amateur football team made up of police and corrections officers and first responders, appears to have resigned.

That’s what team president and coach, Bill Sofranko, texted Randy Knight, an ex-player protesting the team’s inclusion of Timothy Loehmann, the former Cleveland police officer who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014.

Sofranko’s text said: “You win, I resign now back off for the good of the team. Call off your people.”

He added that Loehmann has also left the team.

Sofranko did not respond to requests for comment, but Knight said he’s been told many times that Loehmann was leaving the team.

“I don’t believe it,” Knight told ideastream, after getting Sofranko’s text. “I believe this whole organization needs to be disbanded. There doesn’t need to be a Cleveland Warriors anymore.”

The public controversy over Loehmann’s presence started the last weekend in January, when players and activists showed up at the team’s Saturday morning practice in North Royalton.

“I just want you to know, practice is over with,” Knight said from the sidelines. “Because they’re harboring a murderer.”

Stories in local media and the New York Times have since highlighted the rebellion among Black players over Loehmann’s presence.

Players say for at least a year team leadership hid Loehmann’s identity.

“That’s not a recognizable face, you know?” Knight said. “Everyone else is called by his last name. Everyone else – Knight, Sullivan – but when it comes to Timothy they called him Tim or Timmy.”

But by the end of the 2019 season, the secret was out. Knight said six players were eventually kicked off the team after protesting Loehmann’s presence.

Knight said he’s received threats since he began his campaign against the team’s leadership.

Copyright 2021 90.3 WCPN ideastream. To see more, visit 90.3 WCPN ideastream.