Broadcasters we would like to see working with the XFL

Please join us as XFLBoard correspondents Mike Mitchell, Greg Parks and Jackson Conner review broadcasters they would like to see reporting on the league.

When it comes to the broadcasting side of things, the XFL doesn’t have to dig for the diamonds in the rough or settle for the best of what’s left out there.  In the past, secondary leagues have been a training ground for up and coming broadcasters who are looking to build up their resume and get a break. Secondary leagues have also been a home for the veteran broadcaster who is looking to get an extra paycheck. You want to avoid the latter like the plague.

With Fox, ABC, and ESPN as it’s broadcast partners. The wealth of broadcast talent in those networks is huge. With no college football or NFL transpiring during February till late April, anyone who is anyone in the football broadcasting world could be on the table and certainly available.  That doesn’t mean the XFL can’t be an opportunity for young broadcasters to break out in their profession, but the XFL shouldn’t be in a position of settling for whomever they can get. The networks need to put broadcasters in place who are fully invested in the product.

Brian Baldinger – Mike Mitchell

This is precisely the type of broadcaster that should be working for the XFL.  Back in 2007 when NFL Europe ceased operations, no one was more heartbroken or crestfallen than Brian Baldinger. He wrote a beautiful article twelve years ago on NFL.com about NFL Europe and what it meant to him and the football world. It read like a eulogy. Baldinger is someone who was fully invested and married to the concept of a second pro football league, and that’s what the XFL needs. Someone who is committed and believes in this concept. The last thing you want is someone doing the job to pad their resume, or just collect another paycheck. Not only is Brian Baldinger extremely knowledgeable, but he is passionate. Very few can break down players and game film as he can. The XFL needs someone who will treat the league, it’s players, coaches and the games seriously.

Charles Davis – Mike Mitchell

Five tool players. You will see that term thrown around a lot in baseball, and that’s exactly the type of broadcaster Charles Davis is. A former college football player who went undrafted, Davis knows the plight and journey of prospective pro football players. Davis knows the college and pro game. He’s also a good studio host and a good in the game broadcaster. Charles Davis is also very likable. Guys who are as knowledgeable as him usually come off as arrogant. Somehow, Davis shies away from possessing that type of quality. In a league like the XFL, where there will be a lot of former college football players that just missed the cut in the NFL, you want someone who knows of them and has scouted and followed their careers. Despite being a high profile part of Fox’s #2 NFL team with Kevin Burkhardt. Davis continues to work what would be considered the lower profile games like this past years NFL PA Collegiate Bowl for FS1, a game in which current XFL VP of Football Operations Doug Whaley compiled the rosters for the last two years. Davis is a top-flight talent in the industry and checks off all the boxes that you want in a sportscaster. If the XFL is trying to check off all the boxes of what a pro football league needs to look and feel like, this would a perfect marriage.

Gus Johnson – Greg Parks

To me, this is an easy call as far as someone I want calling XFL games. Johnson is a part of the FOX College Football broadcast team along with Joel Klatt, so he’d be available to call FOX XFL games. He brings the necessary excitement to contests and rises to big-time moments. The XFL is going to be a fast-paced game, and that works to Johnson’s strengths as a broadcaster. You want someone to reach out to the viewers and grab them, pulling them into the gameplay as fans familiarize themselves with players and teams throughout the first rebooted season. He may be a bit polarizing to some, but if the announcers seem excited, that will rub off on the viewers.

Rex Ryan – Greg Parks

Ryan has the credibility from years as an NFL coach to provide strong analysis to games. He’s been on ESPN’s NFL Countdown pre-game show for the last few years but has done a game or two in the booth. Ryan has a big personality, and while the XFL isn’t focusing on that as much as it did during the2001 incarnation, it’s still worth having a voice that isn’t a rehash of what you’d hear on NFL or college broadcasts. Just like some announcers’ voices are tied to certain leagues, ideally, you’d be able to identify some broadcasters with the XFL. Ryan could be that guy, even while he keeps his NFL Countdown gig.

Pat McAfee – Jackson Conner

As Mike mentioned earlier, the XFL is a place for up & coming broadcasters and I could think of no one better than McAfee. McAfee recently was announced to broadcast Thursday night college games for ESPN and this would be another logical step for his journey through the broadcasting world. While us XFL super fans will be locked into the games, the casual fans might need some extra flair to spice up some games from time to time. Pat McAfee is a guy that brings flair to the broadcast booth by adding comedy to his analysis and reimagining the way special teams is broadcasted. I tuned into the Baylor vs Texas Tech game last year to just listen to his broadcasting alone and I can almost guarantee that others would do the same if he was the ESPN announcer for the XFL. This is also one of my more likely scenarios as McAfee has been linked to the XFL on several occasions. Back in January of 2018, McAfee tweeted out how he wanted to be an owner of an XFL franchise. While this was meant as a joke and isn’t technically possible, it shows McAfee’s general interest in being involved with the XFL. Back in March, on a Wrestling Inc. podcast, McAfee has a few interesting quotes regarding the XFL and the AAF. McAfee told them “The AAF offered me a commentating spot for their league and it was literally the day after I signed my deal with the WWE… I said no because I knew that the XFL would be launching in a year from now. So I didn’t want to help launch a new league that would be in competition with the XFL.” When asked about being apart of the XFL McAfee said “If I’m a part of it, I have no idea. Obviously, if I’m with the Monday Night Football booth, which is a long shot, but if I’m there I’m not sure I could. I’ll be a fan of the XFL and if they want me to do something, then I’d love to…not to play. I’m not gonna play. I’m done with that but everything else is fair game.” McAfee, unfortunately, did not get a MNF gig but this does leave the door open for the XFL which McAfee labeled “fair game.”

Peyton Manning – Jackson Conner

While Peyton’s playing career is over, his broadcasting career is just getting underway. Manning was an all-time great QB and while that doesn’t guarantee you to be a good analyst, it has certainly helped in Peyton’s case. Manning’s hit ESPN+ show “Detail” has been very popular and has spurred some discussions about him possibly being the next Tony Romo in the broadcasting world. According to Yahoo.com, Manning was offered a spot on Monday Night Football but turned it down for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons included the fact that both the Giants & the Broncos were scheduled to play on MNF that year and Manning didn’t want to analyze games with his brother or former teammates. As of right now, Eli is not in the XFL and very few, if any, of Manning’s teammates, will play in this league. This offers Manning a great starting point to eventually move onto the NFL when it is further from his playing era. While Manning does not have any official connection to the XFL, this is a fairly logical possibility and the thought of him and Pat McAfee in a booth together makes me, and probably a lot of others, very excited.

Matthew Berry/Field Yates – Jackson Conner

This is a little bit of a bonus one as it kind of relates to my fantasy article from last week and is also a non-broadcaster. I talked extensively about XFL fantasy in my last article but I think fantasy XFL could really take off if there was a face to it. Matthew Berry, Field Yates, or possibly both of them could be the face of fantasy XFL. Even just tweeting XFL fantasy content to the over a million combined followers they have would be a lot but podcasts and maybe a portion of the halftime show on ESPN broadcasts would be huge. Seeing these guys commit to fantasy XFL would cause a lot of people to be very interested and inspired to maybe try it out, therefore leading to more interest in the league. In terms of which one, I do not know. Berry has the bigger platform and following but Yates has tweeted out about the Landry Jones news showing a possible interest. It doesn’t even have to be one of those two either, it could be a lesser-known ESPN fantasy analyst or it could just be all of them together. All I know is that having a person or group like this spearheading the XFL fantasy scene would be huge.

Honorable Mentions

  • Analyst Cynthia Frelund

 

Big news in big D: Dallas Renegades

There’s an old saying in Texas: “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” That would be the perfect statement to describe the kind of day it was for the XFL and XFL die-hards.

The names and logos were announced for all 8 of the teams Wednesday that included a combined coverage from the XFL, ESPN, and Fox Sports.

For Dallas, they got a first glimpse of their team as they will be called the Renegades. The Renegades are sporting a light blue main color followed by red on the eyes of the renegade and black around the outline of the face.

The renegades fits perfectly with what Texas is all about with the theme being “gunslingers, outlaws, and desperadoes” from the old days out in the country. The logo was a tough look to it with the text of “Dallas Renegades” is good-looking and makes sense for the Dallas team.

There has been some controversy with the logo as on Twitter, esports personality Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles tweeted after the announcement saying “What the actual f***. The Dallas XFL team just straight up stole the @Renegades name and logo. That was my creative vision.”

According to the other Renegade’s website, they were acquired by former NBA player Jonas Jerebko in 2016 as the website also states that the “Renegades is North America’s premier multi-gaming esports organization. Featuring professional players and teams in the world’s largest competitive games. Recent breakout performances in Counter-Strike:Global Offensive, Fortnite, and Paladins has helped launch Renegades into becoming one of the most prominent and recognized sports franchise around the world.”

Will anything come out of this claim made by MonteCristo on Twitter? Who knows, but with logos and names being released, Dallas fans can enjoy this exciting time of knowing who their new professional football team is and get ready for the XFL Draft in October to see who will be wearing the blue, red, and black colors on their jerseys in February.

XFL reveals team identities and logos

In a presentation simulcast across XFL.com, ESPN.com and the ESPN app, FOXSports.com, and the social media channels, hosts XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck, ESPN host Laura Rutledge and FOX sports host Colin Cowherd revealed the much awaited team names and logos.

The official team names are:

  • Dallas Renegades
  • Houston Roughnecks
  • Los Angeles Wildcats
  • New York Guardians
  • Seattle Dragons
  • St. Louis BattleHawks
  • Tampa Bay Vipers
  • D.C. Defenders

XFL Dallas hosting team name reveal event Wednesday

Wednesday is the big day when XFL fans can finally know the names and logos of their respective cities. The XFL Dallas team will be having their own celebration of the historic day.

The XFL Dallas team posted on their Facebook and Twitter pages sharing that they will be hosting their team name reveal event on Wednesday at South Victory Plaza on 3090 Olive Street in downtown Dallas. The event will take place at 11:15 am CT, just 15 minutes prior to the team names being revealed on the XFL, ESPN, and Fox websites.

For local Dallas XFL fans, it’s a first chance to meet their new team and the members of the organization and spend their lunch break celebrating an event XFL fans have been waiting for.

Players we want to see, or could see in the XFL

Please join us as XFLBoard correspondents Mike Mitchell, Greg Parks and Jackson Conner review some of the players they feel should get a shot with the XFL.

Not good enough for the NFL. Get ready for that term to be used when people describe any talent associated with the XFL. The players that end up playing in the league may not be players on NFL rosters,  but it doesn’t mean that they can’t be of NFL quality. The key with the XFL is finding players that are capable of being NFL players.  A good portion of the XFL rosters will also have players that have already been NFL players.  Some may call it a collection of the best of what’s left. Others will see the XFL as a second chance, or last chance league for players who still want to play pro football.

Below, we have listed players who are not necessarily locked into a job in the XFL, or even likely to get a job in the XFL, but they are people that we think would be a very good fit.

DL Shawn Oakman –  Mike Mitchell

There was a time not long ago when Shawn Oakman was projected to be a surefire first-round pick in the NFL. Some even projected him to be the first overall pick. Oakman became a viral sensation at Baylor because of his freakish size. He was straight out of central casting at 6’9 and nearly 300 pounds. No one has ever looked more the part than him. As a junior in college. He dominated with 25.5 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks. He decided not to turn pro.  Things went downhill from there. His senior season did not live up to expectations which saw his draft stock drop as a result.  It only got worse for Oakman. Just two weeks before the 2016 NFL draft, Shawn Oakman was arrested on a sexual assault charge. NFL teams completely took Oakman off of their draft boards, leaving him undrafted, and then unsigned. Then, after Oakman was indicted on charges of second-degree felony sexual assault, the door completely shut on Oakman’s chances of ever playing pro football.

Nearly three years later, Shawn Oakman’s trial began on February 26, 2019. On February 28, after the jury deliberated for 45 minutes, Oakman was found not guilty of sexual assault. The jury cited evidence for consensual sex and the lack of incriminating evidence for their decision. In the years since Oakman finished his college career he has been playing indoor football. He recently played in The Spring League in Austin back in April, where coincidentally, the XFL was on hand scouting and testing game rules. Oakman dominated the playing field. Admittedly, this is a tricky area for the XFL to walk on. The league is trying to develop a strong reputation for being family-friendly and responsible. Despite being exonerated, Oakman carries some baggage. From a PR standpoint, drafting Oakman into the league could be questioned. From a talent standpoint. There’s no question that his ability warrants a chance to prove himself as a pro.

WR/QB Braxton Miller – Mike Mitchell

It’s hard picking just two players when there are so many worthy of consideration. The truth is anyone can fill these spots. Miller is being singled out here to highlight the type of player that the league should look to target… the college football star who can’t seem to find his niche or his home in the pros. The truth with Braxton Miller is that his football identity started to change long before he even left college.  In 2013, as a junior Quarterback at Ohio State, Miller was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the year and 9th in the Heisman voting. Braxton was an all-purpose superstar, completing 63 percent of his passes for 2,000 yards passing ,with 24 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 12 TDs on the ground. In 12 games he scored 36 touchdowns.

It all went downhill for Miller in 2014. He missed the entire season with a shoulder injury he sustained in practice, and Miller ended up with a medical redshirt for the season. His injury opened the door for J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones to take over at the QB position for the eventual National Champions. When Miller was healthy to return, his job was gone. Couple that with his shoulder injury and Miller decided to play WR for the team. He joined a receiving group that included Michael Thomas, Curtis Samuel and Jalin Marshall, three future NFL receivers. Miller was 4th in the pecking order, but thanks to his athletic background he was able to become a useful gadget player. A far cry from the megastar he was two years prior, but his progress earned him a potential NFL future. Braxton then showcased his skills at the NFL combine and was a top-three performer in the 3 cone, 20 and 60-yard shuttles. This got him drafted in the 3rd round by the Houston Texans in 2016. In hindsight, Miller was over-drafted. He was a novice when it came to the receiver position and was extremely raw. He ended up on the injured reserve in his rookie season after injuring his shoulder. His development was setback, and in 2017 he barely contributed for Houston. The Texans cut him last summer at final cuts.  Miller spent a year on the Eagles practice squad before recently being cut to make room for Josh McCown. Miller hasn’t had the time to develop as a receiver and is far removed from being a quarterback. The XFL might be the kind of avenue for Miller to reinvent himself and find his football identity again.

QB Brad Kaaya – Greg Parks

There are two positions in the XFL that will make-or-break quality of play and in turn, determine the level of success of the league. One of those positions is the quarterback. There are some talented free-agent quarterbacks available, but many are on the downside of their careers. Kaaya is just 23 years old, a 2017 6th round Draft Pick of the Detroit Lions. He is somewhat a victim of many NFL teams now keeping just two QBs on their active roster, and therefore bringing fewer to camp. Kaaya started at the University of Miami as a true freshman and exited the program having thrown 69 TDs and just 24 interceptions. At his age, he can be a long-term piece in the league, an identifiable star the league and local markets can build around.

OT Isaiah Battle – Greg Parks

The second position that will make or break the quality of play is the offensive line. O-Lines in the NFL lack depth as it is, so any talented linemen will be a boon to the XFL. Battle is one of those players. It’s not a sexy position to talk or write about, but someone has to keep the star QBs upright. Battle, 25 years old, was a 5th round Supplemental Draft pick out of Clemson in 2015, so he has played at the highest level collegiately. Being a part of the Supplemental Draft put him behind the eight-ball to make the team out of training camp with the Rams. The XFL needs to scour all leagues, especially the CFL, to find gems at this position in particular. This isn’t so much about Battle as it is about the need for quality offensive protectors.

RB Dri Archer – Jackson Conner

While we do not necessarily know Archer’s attitude towards playing professional football again, we know that he has a lot of speed. Coming out of high school, Archer was more desired as a track runner than a football player. Nevertheless, Archer chose football and earned all-American awards playing RB for Kent State. Archer then went on to set the NFL world on fire with a 4.26 40 yard dash at the combine and got drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers 97th overall. However, Archer’s NFL career was not as storied as the journey that got him there. His longest play from scrimmage in his NFL career was 15 yards and he ended with 63 total yards for his career. After that, Archer had brief stints with both the Jets and the Panthers. Now it is unclear whether or not Archer still wants to play football, but he is a name that garners a lot of buzz and has the possibility to be an exciting gadget player in the XFL. My next name is very similar to Archer but we know he still wants to play.

RB Corey Grant – Jackson Conner

The Auburn product has a 5.6 career YPC but has not stuck anywhere after his rookie contract has expired. Just because Grant hasn’t stuck does not mean he can’t play, Grant ran a 4.33 40 yard dash and was scored as a 96th percentile athlete by playerprofiler.com. Grant has been efficient in limited usage as well, averaging 8.3 ypc on 30 carries for the Jaguars in 2017 as well as scoring 2 TDs in the return game. Grant was signed to the Green Bay Packers in what looked like a good signing because of his relationship with former Jaguars OC Nathaniel Hackett but was cut shortly after. I have no doubt, though, that Corey Grant can play a very important role for an XFL offense as a rotational back and as a start kick returner. Grant is a perfect player to excel in the XFL.

Honorable Mentions

  • DL Malik McDowell
  • QB Johnny Manziel (already discussed here)
  • QB Colin Kaepernick & Tim Tebow (Talked about extensively)

XFL St. Louis will celebrate their new team name and logo with a fan appreciation party

XFL St. Louis is planning to celebrate their new team name and logo with a fan appreciation party, Wednesday, August 21, 2019 from 3pm-8pm CT.

WHO: Kurt Hunzeker, XFL St. Louis Team President

WHAT:  XFL St. Louis will celebrate their new team name and logo with a fan appreciation party at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company in The Grove.  Beginning at 3pm, XFL St. Louis fans will have an opportunity to mix and mingle with team executives, football operations personnel and more!

WHEN:  Wednesday, August 21, 2019 from 3pm-8pm CT

WHERE:  Urban Chestnut Brewing Company Brewery and Bierhall in The Grove, 4465 Manchester Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110

Boomer Sooner Reunion? XFL should hope so

It would be the XFL’s dream to see the Bob Stoops and Landry Jones come back together and take the league by storm.

Bob Stoops and Landry Jones both were together in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl for four years straight when they took on the Texas Longhorns in the Red River Showdown. Jones became the Big 12’s all time leading passer with 16,646 yards and 123 touchdowns under Bob Stoops’ guidance. The two together combined for 40-13 record in Jones’ four years at OU. Oh, and not to mention that Jones was named after Dallas Cowboys coaching legend Tom Landry. Call it destiny?

Jones fits the prototypical Stoops quarterback: tall, drop back/pocket passer. He would obviously fit in perfectly with Stoop’s offensive system with his familiarity with how to run the offense and would be a fan favorite right away in Dallas. The two would instantly be one of the favorites to win the Western Conference and take home the XFL title.

In an interview with James Hale of SportsTalk1400’s “Total Sports” back in July, Stoops told him, “Oh, he still looks great. He can still sling the ball, and just is in good shape, maybe not prime like he had been, but he’ll work himself back into shape. But he can still throw the football as well as anybody and has worked in our offense before, so I think Landry will have a really good future in this.”

It would be the XFL’s dream to see the two come back together and take the league by storm. They can sell tickets to fans at Globe Life Park with the pair being back together since they are close to the Oklahoma border. It’s true that there might be a lot of Longhorn fans in the area, but Sooner fans would not be able to resist driving 3-4 hours from Norman to watch the pair back together.

I don’t usually condone backdoor collusion, but this might be a case where I would make an exception. The XFL needs to create as many headlines as possible to get the press and fans excited for the league to begin play in February. A “family” reunion of sorts would be a good headline before kickoff.

XFL plans to reveal team names and logos on Wednesday 21 August

The XFL has announced they will reveal their team names and logos on Wednesday Aug. 21 at 12:30 pm ET.

The presentation will be simulcast across XFL.com, ESPN.com and the ESPN app, FOXSports.com, and the social media channels. The presentation will be co-hosted by XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck, ESPN host Laura Rutledge and FOX sports host Colin Cowherd.

Landry Jones makes it official… the XFL is serious this time

Landry Jones, former University of Oklahoma standout and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback will play for the XFL.

The hiring of Landry Jones shows football fans who might be resistant to spring football that the XFL is serious about having top talent at the quarterback position.

While the AAF (Alliance of American Football) had some great talent and has been responsible for 95 players getting signed to NFL players, the quarterback position was one position fans felt needed to be better. Outside of Garrett Gilbert of the Orlando Apollos and John Wolford of the Arizona Hotshots, most of the quarterbacks had inconsistent to below average play that plagued the league of having a great product.

With the shift of focus being paying Tier 1 quarterbacks more than any other positions shows the league is committed to having good quarterback play.  The XFL remembers how the QB play was back in 2001 where we only saw Tommy Maddox of LA play at a high level with Mike Pawlawski with San Francisco and Jim Druckenmiller of Memphis having pretty good seasons. The issue was that we didn’t see as much great talent as we could have due to the antics that McMahon was wanting the league to do with the WWF-style and that resulted in the league losing its reputation.

Led by Oliver Luck (a former NFL quarterback and the father of current Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck), this league has a chance to succeed where they originally and the Alliance failed at in the first place. They learned their lessons from their failures and took their time to build an attractive product. The additions of high-level coaches like Bob Stoops, Jim Zorn, Pep Hamilton, and Kevin Gilbride should help add credibility to the league as well.

XFL teases all eight team identities

Today, the XFL issued more team logo clues, giving fans a full set of all eight XFL teams. It is still unclear when the league will release the full identities and team names.

Today, the XFL issued  two more team logo clues, giving fans a full set of teasers representing all eight XFL teams.

What does this all mean? We’re not sure, however we can tell you that the teaser logo releases over the past four days has generated plenty of speculation among hardcore fans.

It is still unclear when the league will release the full identities and team names. Last week, Houston head coach June Jones reported that the team names would be revealed on Wednesday 21 August, however representatives at XFL headquarters have not confirmed this date.

In today’s release, the XFL states, “We are on the goal line.”  We assume the full team identity reveal is just around the corner.