Click the link below to check out the interview…
By Alistair Fannell
NFL Training Camp 2019 has opened and ALREADY there some surprising names that were either cut, waved, not drafted or have not signed with any team, and could be playing in the XFL when the league starts up February 2020.
Mason Foster, who started 16 games with the Washington Redskins during the 2018 season and played nine seasons in the NFL, was cut just before training camp. Foster is not the only big name linebacker in the NFL that’s out of a job, players like Nick Perry, Sam Acho, Connor Barwin, and Manti Te’o are names that are not on NFL rosters currently.
Te’o is perhaps the most intriguing because he’s finished second in the Heisman Trophy race behind Johnny Manziel in 2013, along with a promising start to his career when he was drafted in the second round by the then San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers, yet injuries plagued his time in San Diego. He then played 2 seasons with the New Orleans Saints and has yet to be signed by any NFL team. Te’o could look to the XFL to restart his football career. Robert Nkemdiche, once a promising defensive lineman out of the University of Mississippi, was just released by the Arizona Cardinals at the start of training camp.
In the secondary, names like Sam Shields, Eric Berry, Mike Mitchell, Shareece Wright and Morris Claiborne come to mind. Berry, a 5-time Pro Bowl defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs, is coming off back-to-back injury-plagued seasons, not to mention him suffering Hodgkin’s lymphoma that also sidelined him back in 2014. If an NFL team is not willing to sign him, don’t be surprised or shocked if the XFL gives him a shot. Morris Claiborne, who was a Top-10 draft choice by the Dallas Cowboys, and then started 15 games with the Jets last season could also see himself playing the XFL.
On the offensive side of the ball, there are some valuable players that could make an impact in the XFL in its first season. At quarterback, names like Brock Osweiler, Matt Cassel, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett come to mind. Jones (currently a Los Angeles Charger) and Barrett, who both lead the Ohio State Buckeyes to the national title in 2015, but haven’t seen their opportunity to start or play in the regular season in the NFL. Running backs like Jay Ajayi, Jeremy Hill, L.J. Scott and Chris Ivory are players that are available. Ajayi and Ivory were both former 1,000-yard backs, while Ajayi played a key role in helping the Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl during the 2017 season. Wide outs like Michael Crabtree, Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Wallace, Pierre Garcon, Dez Bryant could take advantage of the league’s potential offensive schemes, along with tight ends like Jermaine Gresham and Neal Sterling. The coaches and GMs of the XFL will definitely keep a close eye on all of the moves from the NFL preseason. When it’s all said and done at the end of the first week of September; you can best believe the cut list will have some high profile players that could see action in the XFL come February 2020.
By Alistair Fannell
For the first time in nearly 5 years, there was some form of professional football in St. Louis. On July 13th, 140 potential players tried out at the XFL Summer Showcase at Lou Fusz Training Facility in Earth City, Missouri. Guests watched as hopefuls were trying out for coaches and scouts on becoming the newest stars of the new league.
While there is still the buzz of the return of professional football to the Gateway City, the local media are still questioning whether the XFL will last, and whether it will compete against the always popular St. Louis Cardinals and the recently Stanley Cup Champion, St. Louis Blues. There could also be competition if the city is awarded a Major League Soccer team sometime this year.
St. Louis had supported professional football whether it was the Football Cardinals or The Rams, yet they both left a very sour taste that either broke our hearts or angered us with greedy owners who wouldn’t play ball with local leaders and wanted fancy, shiny stadiums.
Those that remember, the Football Cardinals first came to St.Louis in 1960 and played at Sportsman’s Park, then old Busch Stadium in 1966 till 1987. There was the Cardiac Cardinals of the 1970s with legendary coach Don Coryell. Despite having some success, the team never hosted a playoff during their 27 years in St. Louis. The team performance declined back in the late ’70s and 1980s and then the team moved to Arizona after the 1987 season when both St. Louis City and St. Louis County couldn’t come up with a stadium solution to keep the team in St. Louis.
We remembered THAT.
THEN in 1993, the St. Louis lost a bid for NFL expansion to Jacksonville and Charlotte. Then two years later, the Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis after 46 years. During their tenure the Rams won the franchise’s first Super Bowl during the 1999 season. Then it went downhill in which the team couldn’t find success. Despite all efforts by a Missouri governor and St. Louis’ strong effort in keeping the team, owner Stan Kroenke wanted to move the team back to its long-tenured home in Los Angeles. It was approved by 30 NFL owners in January of 2016, and St. Louis became the only city to have lost two NFL teams that relocated to western U.S. cities.
We definitely remembered THAT.
In 2020, professional football will return to St. Louis as its XFL team will begin play at The Dome at America’s Center. It will be the first time the city will have their very own professional football team that isn’t from another market, and the first time the city will be introduced to spring football. You know that professional football in the spring has seen little success going back to the days of the old USFL in the 1980’s, NFL Europe of the 90’s and 00’s and most recently the Alliance of American Football, which didn’t even complete its first season after only 8 games.
Vince McMahon brought back the XFL after the previous incarnation folded back in 2001. He wanted St. Louis as an XFL city and made it happen with its area leaders and officials; all despite it’s bad pro football history that the city had endured.
While sports media outlets in St.Louis like the Post Dispatch or Fox 2 St. Louis (who will air the games on their station) will pay little attention of the team, it will be supported by grassroots sports media outlets in St. Louis like the N The Zone Network and One Universal Production that cover the XFL and gives weekly updates of the League. Already, they have had interviews with new head coach Jonathan Hayes and XFL commissioner Oliver Luck. THESE are the ones that will cater for the fans, that care for the fan, that are all in for the new league. Those are the ones to pay attention to. Fans will get LIVE shows and podcasts about XFL St. Louis which has gained interest from the league itself.
While it’s not the No Fun League, it’s still pro football and it’s coming to St.Louis for the 3rd time since 1960. The third time’s the charm, right? This is traditional football with slightly different rules that should entertain fans in St. Louis and abroad. Don’t forget to follow the grassroots movements in St.Louis because there are exciting times ahead. Can’t wait until February 2020.
THIS…IS…THE XFL NETWORK!
Alright Vince isn’t going to say that. It doesn’t have the same feel like it did back in 2001. But one thing he can say like he did then is…”THANK YOU!”
And so can we, the fans of the XFL.
One of the biggest questions has finally been answered for the inaugural 2020 season.
“Where will the XFL broadcast?”
Now I had predicted that the league would only do ONE major network.
They messed around and got SIX.
That’s right, six. So in 2020, you will see nationally-televised XFL games on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1, AND FS2. Vince, Oliver & Company clearly know what they are doing and when to do it. No one outside of them and the networks knew about this. This may have been the league’s best-kept secret. Sort of. The story about potential broadcasting rights was out at the beginning of the year stating that the XFL were in negotiations with those networks. But nothing was official, and that was the secret. After talking with a league official, they informed me that they the talks with networks “that everyone knows” and “it has three letters.” It wasn’t a lot of help, but it started winding down some of the choices of my prediction. I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be NBC because the league didn’t want the same stank like they did back in 2001 when the lost over a third of their investment.
This time, the XFL will not get any rights fees from Disney or Fox, and I don’t think at this point the league cares. Vince is close to the $500 million investment that he said he was putting in for the league. Plus the “Weekend of Vince” is going to be in high gear on Fox as his WWE promotion will kick off the weekend on Friday his weekly show, “Smackdown LIVE” and then XFL Saturday/Sunday. Vince is clearly…THE MAN!
The cool thing about this is the league putting on mostly afternoon games similar to NFL’s Sunday action. One game in the early afternoon, the other in the late afternoon. Mostly what you will see is one day for network games, the other one for games on cable. Smart move. Especially for what they will be up against. It’s similar to what the Alliance was up against doing their abrupt season.
Check out the timeslots and networks below…
Out of the 43 games, 24 of them will be on broadcast TV (“network TV” or “regular TV” whichever makes you comfortable) which is unbelievable compared to what the Alliance had at the beginning of their season which was…3. At this rate, they should be called “The XFL Network.” But one thing I was surprised about from this schedule is the championship being on ESPN. The biggest game of your league…is on cable? I think it’s just a trial basis. Just go back to 2001, because Vince hasn’t forgotten about that “Million Dollar Game” having such an abysmal rating on network primetime TV (a 2.1 rating to be exact) and this time he may not need to have those kinds of ratings like its XFL 1 did.
As they have stated before:
This is not the future, this is not the past, this is the future…and THIS future is moving quite fast.
I’m ready. I can’t wait to watch. Are you ready? 2020 can’t get here soon enough.
(courtesy of XFL YouTube)
Here is each XFL Head Coach/GM and team presidents currently (as of 08/05/19):
Head coach/GM: Bob Stoops
Team President: Grady Raskin
WASHINGTON DC –
Head coach/GM: Pep Hamilton
Team President: Erik Moses
Head coach/GM: Jim Zorn
Team President: Ryan Gustafson
Head coach/GM: Marc Trestman
Team President: Josh Bullock
NEW YORK –
Head coach/GM: Kevin Gilbride
Team President: Janet Duch
ST. LOUIS –
Head coach/GM: Jonathan Hayes
Team President: Kurt Hunzeker
Head coach/GM: June Jones
Team President: Brian Michael Cooper
LOS ANGELES –
Head coach/GM: Winston Moss
Team President: Heather Brooks Karatz
I can’t lie to you.
I miss professional football in St. Louis.
It was an integral part of the city and I literally grew up with it. I was aware of the NFL’s football Cardinals, but never got a chance to see them because they were gone by the time I really started watching football. When the Rams were here in ’95, I got excited. Even more excited to see them win a Super Bowl in 2000. Then they were bad, like really bad. But you know the story, they left after the 2015 season and made The Dome quiet. No more screaming fans, no more tailgating, no more coverage. Seeing the Rams in another city (in this case, go back to the city where they had the longest tenure)…hurt. It did. But you learn that it’s all business.
But last year, I saw Vince McMahon’s press conference announcing that the XFL was returning. By then, I was hoping for a St. Louis team. I actually wanted 2 of them: the XFL and the Alliance. Maybe that would remove the pain of losing the Rams. That wasn’t going to work. One venue with two different teams from two different leagues. Too much conflict. When the Alliance made their announcements of the cities, I was disappointed that St. Louis wasn’t the initial eight, but still had hope for the XFL for 2020. My wish had been granted when it was announced that St. Louis was one of the eight. But now that the Alliance is a sunken ship with tons of baggage floating in the ocean, I’m giving my full attention to the XFL.
Out of the eight XFL cities, St. Louis is the only one that doesn’t have an NFL franchise. That makes this even MORE special for the league. The Dome will get to rock again, and THIS time it can be affordable to go experience a professional football game in the city of St. Louis. I was amazed to hear that fans just outside of St. Louis would make a trip to see the Rams, whether through tailgate or watching a game in The Dome. They will get to do it again this time with the new XFL.
Hear me when I say this because I truly believe (and I have said it once before if you have not heard the show):
St. Louis is vital to the XFL’s success. VITAL.
In my eyes, that means bringing back former St. Louis (Football) Cardinals and Rams players to the Dome, to celebrate St. Louis’ professional football history. It would be awesome to see greats like Kurt Warner, Isaac Bruce, Orlando Pace, Dan Dierdorf and Jim Hart. St. Louis has seen nearly 50 years professional football in the NFL, and yes it saw a lot of bad luck along the way but the fans continued to root for them during those times. It was our therapy, the one time per week where we got to sit back and enjoy three hours of entertainment in our hometown.
Speaking of Bruce, he actually had expressed his feelings in wanting to coach. Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that if St. Louis was an Alliance city, Bruce was in negotiations with the league to possibly be the team’s head coach, but conflicts at The Dome kept that from happening. Rumor has it that (former Rams coach) Jim Haslett will get the honor, but as of this posting, nothing has been set in stone from the league office. Even if Bruce doesn’t get the head coaching gig, he should definitely look in to being St. Louis’ team president or as an assistant on staff continuing to work with younger players. Bruce’s presence should be high on this team’s radar. He was a big part of the community work in St. Louis during his playing days and continues to do that while retired.
McMahon and XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck both saw St. Louis as an XFL city. They know that the city’s fans are craving professional football again. They are even willing to pay a lot of money for usage of the Dome. It would just make so much sense for the league to play its very first game in St. Louis. I can’t see it any other way.
I meant every word that I said. And I don’t care that it was repeated. Comments are welcome (Be civil). It’s time to once again celebrate pro football in St. Louis.
I could see the writing on the wall when the main money man Tom Dundon starting making comments suddenly last week about failed negotiations with the NFLPA (even though the league & the NFLPA said all talks were ongoing and positive) that he may be pulling the plug that last week’s games could be the league’s last. It’s disappointing on so many levels. In my opinion, they could have finished up the season and the playoff and regrouped. At worse, cancel the last two regular season games and play the playoffs…..
I think the league had many things going for them; TV contracts (that includes the NFL Network), fan interest, solid football staffing, respectable coaching, and yes, some good football being played.
With that, I give you my ode to the AAF!
Week 2 – Orlando 37 San Antonio 29: In what could have been a preview of the AAF Championship, the Apollos storm back with 17 fourth-quarter points to overtake the Commanders in front of a raucous crowd.
Week 5 – San Antonio 29 Arizona 25: The Commanders grind out a hard-fought road victory in a game between two of leagues best teams as they hold off a furious Hotshots 4th quarter rally.
Week 5 – San Diego 27 Salt Lake 25: San Diego wins at the gun on a Donny Hageman field goal after the Stallions took a late lead behind the 380 yards passing by Josh Woodrum.
Week 6 – Arizona 22 Orlando 17: In another potential Championship preview, the Hotshots roll into Orlando and hand the Apollos their first loss. The Apollos had a chance at the end, but a runoff penalty at the end sealed the win for Arizona.
Week 6 – Birmingham 32 San Diego 29: One week after winning on a last second FG, the Fleet lose at the buzzer to Nick Novak and the Iron. Both Luis Perez and Mike Bercovici went over 300 yards passing in this shootout.
Week 7 – Memphis 31 Birmingham 25: The league’s first OT game went to the Express who rallied in dramatic fashion to win in front of the home crowd led by Brandon Silvers and Reece Horn. This game also saw the debut of Johnny Manziel.
(Highlights courtesy of Highlight Heaven)
Garrett Gilbert, Orlando
John Wolford, Arizona
Trent Richardson, Birmingham
Jhurell Pressley, Arizona
D’Ernest Johnson, Orlando
Kenneth Farrow II, San Antonio
Joel Bouagnon, Salt Lake
Charles Johnson, Orlando
Rashad Ross, Arizona
Reece Horn, Memphis
Nelson Spruce, San Diego
Quinton Patton, Birmingham
De’Mornay Pierson-El, Salt Lake
Mekele McKay, San Antonio
Dontez Ford, San Diego
Wes Saxton Jr., Birmingham
Nick Truesdell, Salt Lake
Karter Schult, Salt Lake
Damontre Moore, San Diego
Earl Okine, Orlando
DeMarquis Gates, Orlando
Terence Garvin, Orlando
Beniquez Brown, Birmingham
Jayrone Elliott, San Antonio
Drew Jackson, Memphis
Steven Johnson, Arizona
Reggie Northup II, Orlando
Nyles Morgan, Arizona
De’Vante Bausby, San Antonio
Jamar Summers, Birmingham
Keith Reaser, Orlando
Kameron Kelly, San Diego
Derron Smith, San Antonio
Will Davis, Salt Lake
Erick Dargan, Arizona
Tyson Graham Jr, Atlanta
Will Hill III, Orlando
Ed Reynolds Jr, Atlanta
Arnold Tarpley III, Memphis
Continue to check us out as we wait for XFL 2020!
Goodbye to the AAF, I’ll remember you fondly like I did with the old USFL!