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Hillsborough Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez again roams the sidelines

The former Tampa Catholic football coach now directs the Tampa Bay Thunder.
Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez is now head coach of the Tampa Bay Thunder amateur adult football team.
Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez is now head coach of the Tampa Bay Thunder amateur adult football team. [ Tampa Bay Times (2016) ]
Published Jan. 5
Updated Jan. 7

It’s a first-year team, but not a first-year head coach.

The guy with the whistle around his neck directing the Tampa Bay Thunder amateur adult football team is Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez.

“It’s been fun. I’m thrilled to be back in the saddle,” Henriquez said.

Henriquez, still referred to fondly as “Coach” around Hillsborough County Center, spent 17 years, in two different stints, coaching football for his alma mater, Tampa Catholic High School. He left with a 130-71 record, including 13 playoff appearances, seven district titles and two appearances in the state championship game, according to accounts about his retirement in the Tampa Bay Times.

Henriquez, 57, resigned from the Tampa Catholic coaching job in 2012, a month after voters elected him property appraiser. But, he still knows how to win. His margin of victory in his 2020 reelection campaign was 13 percentage points, nearly a two-touchdown margin.

Related: Charges fly in Hillsborough property appraiser's race

These days, he said, politics is more of a contact sport than football.

“At least in football, for the most part — you get blindsided once in a while — but you can be a competitor and look each other in the eye. There’s still a certain amount of honor involved,” he said. “But politics can be rough-and-tumble, unfortunately.”

Bob Henriquez coached Tampa Catholic High School for 17 seasons.
Bob Henriquez coached Tampa Catholic High School for 17 seasons. [ Times (2008) ]

The Tampa Bay Thunder is a new team in the Football Federation Alliance 2.0, an adult league that started playing in 2008. The team hasn’t yet had its first game, but the players already have a new head coach.

Original head coach Rey Riveros stepped down due to his professional career, the Thunder said while announcing Henriquez’s appointment on Dec. 29. Henriquez, described as a ”legend” in the team statement, initially joined the staff in the fall as an assistant coach.

“Let’s be clear. I wouldn’t be doing this if it interfered with my (property appraiser) duties,” Henriquez said.

Henriquez said the volunteer position is a way to give back to the community. He’s previously volunteered at Tampa Catholic and assisted at youth summer football camps.

The new role carries no remuneration. He earns $183,160 as property appraiser. The team practices Tuesday nights at the University of South Florida’s intramural fields and games are played on Saturdays. The team’s first game is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Jan. 22 against the Dunedin Pirates. The Thunder will play its home games at Sickles High School.

The team president is Jake Moore, son of former NFL tight end and current Buccaneer radio broadcaster Dave Moore. The roster includes a mix of players with college and semi-professional experience. The biggest name is former NFL player Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a defensive back and two-time Pro Bowl player in his 11 seasons with five teams.

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“There’s a great deal of talent out there,” said Henriquez. “The players that have been playing in this league or a similar level for a while, they do it for the love of the game. Some of these guys still have aspirations to get tryouts elsewhere.”

Is there room on the roster for Antonio Brown?

“Let’s not go there,” he said.