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.

Will the XFL become a home for the player formerly known as Johnny Football?

Johnny Manziel posing with Hamilton Tiger-Cat head coach June Jones in May 2018. Today, Jones is the head coach of the XFL Houston franchise. Will he get the chance to pose with Manziel once again?

Now that the XFL is starting to sign players, beginning with the recent signing of quarterback Landry Jones, other signings won’t be too far away.

If there is one potential XFL player signing that is highly anticipated among fans, it is Johnny Manziel.

We all know Manziel has had well documented problems.  We might be able to summarize his football career by saying, shear brilliance, followed by poor choices and bad luck. First, being his brilliant college career and well deserved Heisman Trophy, second, his NFL career with the Browns that went south, mainly because of poor personal choices, and third, his resurrection in the AAF that was cut short when the league folded like a cheap chair at the end of a party.

You may have noticed that we didn’t mention Manziel’s CFL career… mainly because we don’t really know what happened there. Last winter, after playing one season with the Canadian league, Manziel was cut loose under a veil of secrecy. The CFL even went as far as to say he had been “barred from the league.” It may have been another example of “poor choices,” but we cannot be sure.

YouTube video

 

That being said, when it comes to considering Manziel for the XFL, the league should start by looking back at his CFL career.

Manziel was brought into the Hamilton Tiger Cats training camp in the spring of 2018. Hamilton head coach June Jones had been a big fan of Manziel’s, and had followed his career since he had switched from receiver to quarterback at Tivy High School in Kerrville, TX.

“I’ve wanted him since he was a sophomore in high school,” Jones said to reporters at the time. “I think I was the first to offer him a scholarship.”

Later, Jones remained a big fan when he coached at Southern Methodist University, and Manziel starred for rival Texas A&M, eventually leading to a Heisman Trophy for the young player. Finally, when Jones was head coach of the CFL’s Hamilton franchise, he got the chance to coach Manziel in person, when he was signed to a two-year contract with the team.  It was also understood that the contract included stipulations that would help Manziel repair his off-field image and resurrect his football career.

It should be noted that Canadian football fans had great interest in the career of “Johnny Football,” and awaited his debut with marked anticipation.  Manziel’s hiring created a buzz. However, when the season began, Manziel held the position of second-string quarterback behind the Ti-Cats star Jeremiah Masoli. With little playing time on the table it was reported that Manziel was unhappy. Soon, he was traded to the Montreal Alouettes where he got the chance as a starter.

There was plenty of interest in Manziel once he hit the field in Montreal, with hopeful fans flocking to Percival Molson Stadium to view the event. Most fans were likely wondering whether it would be a train wreck, but still hoping they would witness the resurrection of a once-great football genius. What they got was a lackluster performance, and a bad home team loss. But, they came out to see it, didn’t they?

Flash forward to today. Manziel is again looking for a football league, and the XFL is looking for good players. The fans still seem to have faith in good old “Johnny Football” and would love to witness him throwing an XFL ball. For the same reason fans flocked to Montreal’s stadium, they will also show up to see Manziel if he starts in an XFL game. They will come to see someone who is still a star in their eyes, and dream of witnessing the game where Manziel’s train wreck of a career would be put back on the rails.

Having Manziel as a starting quarterback would help the XFL create a buzz, especially if he was placed in the Houston franchise where he could be reunited with coach June Jones, and once again throwing footballs under the bright, broad Texas sky. There could be nothing more poetic than this scenario, and the XFL needs to consider bringing it to reality.

It might sell a few tickets.

Will the league take a chance on Manziel, even after he was barred by the CFL? Of course, we do not know the reason he was cut by the Canadian league, but the AAF took a chance on him and that seemed to work out. Keep in mind that the XFL presently has personnel who worked in the CFL last season, and they might know enough about the situation to help XFL HQ make a wise choice on the matter.

Either way, the fans want to see Manziel get another chance. In the past the XFL has called itself a league of “second chances.”  Doesn’t this seem like a perfect match?

Speculation abounds after the XFL teases team identities

Like a burlesque entertainer removing one glove, this is all the XFL is willing to show…. today.

Today, the XFL released two thumbnails representing the identities of two of their eight franchises.

This immediately kicked-off a round of speculation, mainly focused on the left graphic being the head of a snake, with an eye and a fang showing, and the right graphic being the bottom left of a large “D”.

On Twitter 2020Hindsight thought the “D” could be the logo for Dallas, as the Dallas is known as the “Big D.”

In the XFLBoard Forum the conversation pointed to the fact that the AAF did a similar tease of their logos prior to the official release.  You can see the AAF teaser logos here:

There is no word on when the official team names and branding announcement will be made. It should be pointed out that when the AAF teased their logos, they released bits and pieces of each logo until all eight logos were teased.  Does this mean we are due for six more teaser graphics from the XFL?

It should also be pointed out that today’s teaser did not resonate with any mainstream media outlets. The only places reporting today’s teaser were XFL fan sites. This could be the most important takeaway from today’s release.

The hunt for potential XFL talent continues: A list of the deepest position groups for every NFL team (pt. 2)

Part two of my look across the NFL at the deepest position groups for every time continues with the NFC. (Look for part 1 here)

Arizona Cardinals

Linebackers: Arizona’s 3-4 scheme means they have a high number of linebackers in camp. Right now, they have enough to have a full fourth string and then some. But there’s quality along with quantity here. Andre Branch was just brought aboard as a rush linebacker behind the ageless Terrell Suggs. Branch isn’t guaranteed a roster spot. Looking at the third-and-fourth teamers, a couple names stick out: Tanner Vallejo and Hayes Pullard are both special teams mavens. Jeff Holland was recently picked up after being waived by Denver, and he showed well at times last season. Vontarrius Dora and Pita Taumoepenu are youngsters who could attract attention on the waiver wire. Undrafted rookie Dante Booker won’t crack the rotation, but his Ohio State pedigree could give him a practice squad opportunity.

Atlanta Falcons

Defensive Line: Curiously, the Falcons list five starters on the defensive line on their unofficial depth chart, and only two linebackers. Vic Beasley, one of the ends, acts as a hybrid pass rusher. Atlanta has a bit of starting experience among their backups, including Jack Crawford, an 11-game starter last year at tackle, and former Tampa Bay 1st round pick Adrian Clayborn. After a year out of football, 2014 2nd round pick Ra’Shede Hageman returns to try to make an impact. He’s battling with 2018 3rd rounder Deadrin Senat for a backup tackle spot. There aren’t many “name” rookie free agent gems buried here, but instead, a couple of second-year prospects in Austin Larkin (Purdue) and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (UCLA). Given the five starters listed, it’ll be interesting to see how many bodies Atlanta keeps at this position.

Carolina Panthers

Quarterbacks: Cam Newton has been dinged up over the years due to his aggressive style of play, resulting in some significant playing time for backups. Will Grier is a rookie 3rd round pick out of West Virginia, and he’ll almost certainly make the team. Will Carolina keep another backup as insurance in case the rookie isn’t ready to be the number two man? That battle will come down to Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke, two former undrafted free agents. Allen looked the part in his lone start last year, while Heinicke saw action in six games in 2018. Allen could have interest on waivers if he gets cut, while Heinicke may not. Either of the two would be solid options for XFL teams looking for a quarterback.

Chicago Bears

Special Teams: We have an honest-to-goodness specialist battle here. The placekicking job will be handled by either Eddy Pineiro, acquired in the offseason from Oakland; or Elliott Fry, who kicked in the AAF. Either man will have a lot of pressure to fill the void after Cody Parkey so publicly doinked the Bears out of the playoffs with his miss last season. On the long-snapping front, Patrick Scales hasn’t been as automatic as one would hope from the position, so he’s being tested by John Wirtel, a rookie out of Kansas. Wirtel was not a highly-ranked long snapping prospect in this year’s draft, but few snappers are challenged in camp and the XFL will need eight of them.

Dallas Cowboys

Defensive Line: There’s a good mix of youth and experience on Dallas’s front four, creating a lot of competition in camp. The Cowboys devoted three draft picks to the position this year. Seventh rounder Jalen Jelks is competing with 5th rounder Joe Jackson for a backup end spot. They’re getting an opportunity with DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford both on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Versatile veteran Kerry Hyder is in danger of not making the team. Two valued rookie free agents in Daniel Wise (Kansas) and Ricky Walker (Virginia Tech) may be battling for one practice squad spot. AAF alum Shakir Soto is also vying for a spot. Preseason game action may determine the rotation and roster spots.

Detroit Lions

Tight Ends: All six tight ends on Detroit’s camp roster are NFL-caliber players. Jesse James, a free-agent recruit from Pittsburgh, and 1st round pick TJ Hockenson are locks. The Lions will either keep three or four, depending on how numbers work out elsewhere on the squad. Logan Thomas is a converted QB who is still learning the position. Jerome Cunningham is a journeyman block-first guy, as is Austin Traylor, who can also double as a fullback. Isaac Nauta could end up being a steal as a 7th round pick this year; he tested poorly but produced in college. If the Lions like his long-term outlook, they may try to keep him either as the third or fourth tight end.

Green Bay Packers

Defensive Line: The starting three are set here; it’s now a competition for the final two or three spots. Speedy Fadol Brown, late of Oakland, is squaring off with practice squadder James Looney and 2019 5th rounder Kingsley Keke for one or two backup end positions. Keke has the advantage there. At backup nose tackle, it’s likely Tyler Lancaster’s spot to lose after he impressed as an undrafted free-agent last season. That means two large men will be on the street: 332-pound second-year man Deon Simon, and 331-pound rookie Olive Sagapolu (who is athletic enough to do a standing backflip). You can’t teach size.

Los Angeles Rams

Defensive Backs: The Rams boast a top cornerback tandem in Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Troy Hill and Nickell Robey-Coleman, two former AFC East denizens, back them up. Darious Williams and Donte Deayon duke it out for the backup nickel job behind Robey-Coleman. This year’s 3rd rounder, David Long, may end up getting a redshirt year due to the depth. At safety, Eric Weddle and John Johnson patrol the backfield, while heralded Taylor Rapp and Marqui Christian fight for playing time. Penn State 7th rounder Nick Scott may make it as the final safety, beating out Oklahoma alum Steven Parker and Iowa rookie free agent Jake Gervase. A team could keep up to three DBs on the practice squad.

Minnesota Vikings

Offensive Line: Three draft picks spent by the Vikings along the line are in three very different spots on the depth chart after the first preseason game. Center Garrett Bradbury, a 1st rounder, is already entrenched as a starter. Dru Samia, a 4th rounder, is on the third team, but has some upward mobility and will make the roster as a backup. And 6th round pick Oli Udoh has the look of a practice squad player at this point. Samia’s presence could spell the end of the line for third-year man Danny Isidora and former starter Dakota Dozier. Longshots like John Keenoy, Cornelius Edison, and Storm Norton also have some upside to their game.

New Orleans Saints

Running Backs: Rookie free agent Devin Ozigbo out of Nebraska has already made his way to second-team all-purpose back behind Alvin Kamara. He has passed Jacquizz Rodgers for that role and may put Rodgers out of a job. Fourth-year man Dwayne Washington is a valued special-teamer and if he makes the club, it’ll be via that route. Kerwynn Williams has bounced around the league and is another set of legs on the New Orleans roster. They may only keep three true running backs. This position is so deep that there’s even a battle at fullback between incumbent Zach Line and former Detroit Lions draft pick Mike Burton.

New York Giants

Linebackers: Once a sore spot, this position has been built into a strength by general manager Dave Gettleman. It’s expected the Giants will keep eight linebackers. On the inside, 5th round pick Ryan Connelly looks safe as a backup, leaving former starter B.J. Goodson and special teams stalwart Nate Stupar battling for the last spot. That would put former Bear Jonathan Anderson out as well. On the outside, there may not be as much competition. Rookie free agent Jake Carlock impressed in the first preseason game. Edge rusher and former 5th round pick in 2017 Avery Moss may not be locked in. Joey Alfieri and Keion Adams are also quality depth players who may find themselves without a home in September.

Philadelphia Eagles

Running Backs: Some were surprised the Eagles spent a 2nd round pick this year on Penn State’s Miles Sanders, given their treasure trove at the position. The Eagles truly use a committee approach with their backs. Sanders and Jordan Howard are in. Corey Clement has been brought along slowly due to injury this summer, but he’s expected to make the team. Darren Sproles is also back for another year; hard to see Philly cutting him. They may be able to sneak one more in, but those four also might be it. That leaves Josh Adams, who led the team in rushing last year, off the roster. He’d be joined by Saints 2018 6th rounder Boston Scott, 5’9” Donnel Pumphrey (the all-time leader in Division I rushing yards), and 2016 5th round pick Wendell Smallwood. Those are some quality credentials to be without a home.

San Francisco 49ers

Defensive Line: As noted by The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, the 49ers may keep as many as 10 linemen here because three are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next spring. Even so, some talent will end up getting cut. One name that stands out is Damontre Moore, currently listed as a fourth-team end. Moore was a 3rd round pick in 2013 and played in the AAF this spring. Tackle Jordan Thompson is already in the XFL’s rolodex after participating in one of the Summer Showcases. This will be a tough group for him to crack. Kevin Givens was a top undrafted signing at the tackle position. Sixth-year vet Jay Bromley and second-year man Jeremiah Valoga are in danger of not making the squad.

Seattle Seahawks

Defensive Backs: The Legion of Boom they are not, but Seattle still has talented depth in its secondary. While most of the attention of XFL fans is on the QB race in Seattle, former Miami 2nd round pick Jamar Taylor is battling to make the roster, just to show how competitive this unit is. Jeremy Boykins and Simeon Thomas are fringe NFL talent at the position. Longtime Seahawk DeShawn Shead was brought back this summer, but it’s not a lock he makes the team. Shead will try to leapfrog Shalom Luani, who was acquired in a trade with Oakland last season; and Jawuan Johnson, a rookie free agent from TCU. Most of the other spots on the depth chart seem set; just one or two corner and safety jobs may truly be on the line.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterbacks: New head coach Bruce Arians was brought in to straighten Jameis Winston out. That remains a work in progress as does the battle to be Winston’s backup. Veterans Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin could both end up making the roster if Arians chooses to carry three QBs. At this point, though, having both Gabbert and Griffin seems redundant. Neither has practice squad eligibility left, and neither are likely to cause other teams to run to their to their phones to sign them. The wildcard here is Nick Fitzgerald, who has spent the preseason on the Non-Football Injury List. Once thought to be a top prospect at Mississippi State, Fitzgerald went undrafted. If healthy, his skillset could match what XFL offenses are looking for. Tampa could also decide to stash him on injured reserve for the year.

Washington Redskins

Wide Receivers: The Athletic’s Ben Standig reports that starter and 2016 1st rounder Josh Doctson is in danger of not making the team. He’d likely be in demand from other NFL teams, but it shows how fluid the receiving corps is in Washington. This year’s draft picks Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon are up to the second-team on the depth chart. Trey Quinn mans the slot. Brian Quick has never lived up to his 2nd round potential but could find new life in the XFL. Jehu Chesson and Robert Davis are interesting young size/speed guys and it’s likely one but not both will make the team. Steve Sims Jr. from Kansas is an interesting rookie free-agent making up the back-end of the position.

Opinion: The XFL team names must be worth the wait

In 2001, the New York/New Jersey Hitmen had a great team name, but many other XFL team names were ridiculed. Will the team names of the 2020 version of the XFL be any better?

The XFL hasn’t yet named their eight inaugural franchises, and continue to refer to the teams as XFL Houston, XFL Dallas, XFL St. Louis, etc. Although league staff had conveyed plans to announce actual team names prior to August, it is now the middle of August and the names remain unannounced.

There has been a few rumored names, and leaks such as trademark registrations for Seattle franchise names, but nothing has been confirmed.

We can only assume that the league has delayed the official team name announcement for a good reason. Right? It’s not like they’re deliberately trying to tease us.

High-level league officials are very tight-lipped about the situation, and will only give overall reasons for the delay, such as legal and trademark concerns. Actually, it makes sense that legal ramifications are a major part in their decision, but one would hope that this would have been completed already.

Presently, some fans are bothered by the delay of the announcement. But, not all. A straw poll currently running on Twitter is showing that the fan reaction is almost split in half.

However, there are some murmurings among staff on XFL teams that show anxiousness toward the lack of an announcement.  Most recently, Houston Head Coach June Jones declared that the team name announcement would take place on August 21st.

However, once this date was shared on Twitter, Jones’ statement was quickly retracted. It seems that Jones was gleeful in making this proclamation, but, either it was not his to make, or he was talking about a date that no longer worked.

Regardless of when the league finally names their eight franchises, the most important judgement will be the quality of the names, not the timeliness of the announcement.  That being said, it is hoped that the XFL has taken the time to test their chosen names with focus groups comprised of both fans and business partners.

One thing we should all remember is how the original XFL team names are now legendary in their “badness.” In fact, whenever any sports team is given a substandard name, the collective reaction is to compare the bad naming to the XFL, i.e., “That sounds like an XFL name.”

That’s right. The original XFL is remembered for many things, but mainly for its horrible team names. Granted the 2001 XFL team names were not all bad. However, with the genuine greatness of the New York/New Jersey Hitmen, Chicago Enforcers, and Las Vegas Outlaws, we had the very unconventional Memphis Maniax, Orlando Rage and Los Angeles Xtreme. It is a given that fans of these teams grew to love the names, but there was room for ridicule, and the ridicule came… and stayed.

In August 2000, the original XFL team names were announced with great fanfare, but it wasn’t done without a little drama. Just a week prior to the official announcement, the team names were leaked in the XFLBoard forum, including the name of the Birmingham franchise, which was to be the “Birmingham Blast.” Quickly, in the message board, fans begin to point out the inappropriateness of the word “blast,” especially considering past deaths that had been caused by bombings in the city. The XFL took note and quickly changed the name to “Birmingham Thunderbolts.” With some minor changes, they even used the same graphics as the original name. This was all done within the span of a week.

The moral of the story is that team names can be done quickly, but be ready for problems. Doesn’t it then follow that when team names are done slowly and methodically, they should be as good as we have ever seen?

After so many delays, we should be expecting quality team names. Then, maybe the XFL will finally be able to shed the weight of being known as the “bad team name league.”