The XFL opens their inaugural season the weekend following the Super Bowl to ensure our football fix will remain satisfied, but will the product be worth watching?
We’ve all seen this story unfold before as this is the second version of XFL after the original ended after only one season (2001), and more recently the Alliance of American Football closed up shop after only two months worth of games.
So, the odds are slim this new version of the XFL will last, but if they learned from their previous mistakes and are truly committed to the product beyond this year, then maybe the new league can find their footing.
Here are the eight teams that will be in the inaugural season.
- Dallas Renegades
- Houston Roughnecks
- Los Angeles Wildcats
- Seattle Dragons
- DC Defenders
- New York Guardians
- St. Louis BattleHawks
- Tampa Bay Vipers
- There will also be a 9th team that is essentially a practice squad full of players that the other 8 teams can pull from if they need a player.
If you’re looking for a Chicago Bears connection to determine (or negate) your rooting interest, then you have to start with the Tampa Bay Vipers, who are coached by former Bears’ head coach, Marc Trestman. The innovator of the Trest Coast Offense went 13-19 during his two year stint in Chicago (2013-2014). Defensive back Demontre Hurst, who played in 32 games for Chicago from 2014 to 2016, is also on the Vipers.
The head coach of the Defenders, Pep Hamilton, was the Bears’ QB coach for three years under Lovie Smith (2007-2009). Other ex-Bear Defenders are wide out Rashad Ross, who returned 5 kicks in a couple games for the Bears in 2014, corner Doran Grant, who was a practice squadder in 2017 and cut in 2018, linebacker Jameer Thurman, who was on their offseason roster in 2019, and tight end Khari Lee, who general manager Ryan Pace traded a 6th-round pick for in 2016. Lee caught one ball that year and was cut the following offseason.
Former Bears’ offensive lineman Jerry Fontenot (1989-1996) is the o-line coach of the Wildcats and he’s joined by former starting receiver Tre McBride in L.A. McBride, if you remember, was involved in a Halas Hall skirmish with Josh Bellamy over a girl.
Harold Jones-Quartey, who started at safety for 16 games between 2015 and 2016, plays for the BattleHawks, as does tackle Matt McCants who played briefly for the Bears in 2018.
Offensive lineman Willie Beavers, who was a Bears’ practice squadder for a couple months in 2018, plays for the Renegades and Roughneck Marquez Tucker was in Bears camp as an offensive lineman in 2019.
Dragon offensive lineman Cyrill Richardson was on Chicago’s practice squad in 2016 and he made it to the last round of cuts the following year. Also playing for Seattle are a couple former Bear draft picks. Tight end Evan Rodriguez was a 4th-round pick in 2012 and defensive tackle Will Sutton was a 3rd-rounder in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Receiver Mekale McKay was on the Bears practice squad for a cup of coffee in 2017 and he plays for the Guardians, as does former fan favorite Tanner Gentry. Quarterback Marquise Williams, who kept Mitchell Trubisky on the bench when both attended North Carolina, is also a Guardian.
If you aren’t going to be watching for specific players or coaches, then maybe the outside-the-box rules will pique your interest. In the links below the XFL explains each rule along with the accompanying NFL rule, and they give their reasoning for making the change.
5 Gameplay Innovations: Kickoff | Point-After Touchdown | Punt | Double-Forward Pass | Overtime
5 Timing Changes: 25-Second Play Clock | Comeback Period | Running Game Clock | Timeouts | Replay Rulings
5 Common Sense Rules: One Foot Inbounds | Ball-Spotting Official | Coach-Player Communication | Simplified Illegal Man Downfield | Shorter Halftime
The NFL will be watching to see how many of these innovative rules work, and don’t be surprised to see one or two adopted at some point.
The XFL opens up on Saturday, February 8, with the Dragons at the Defenders at 1:00 p.m. Central on ABC.
Will you guys be watching?