It was the fall of 2018, nearly an entire calendar year had passed since Vince McMahon made public, his intention of relaunching the XFL in February of 2020. Another spring pro football league in the AAF, jumped out in front of the field for a February 2019 launch. The Alliance had secured it’s eight locations for the start of their season. The XFL had yet to announce where their proposed eight teams would end up playing. Then finally after months of speculation, the league announced that it would reveal it’s eight team cities and stadiums on December 5th, but prior to the big reveal, word leaked out that St. Louis would be one of the league’s team cities, and that their games would be played at The Dome at America’s Center. The XFL’s first big score was the hiring of Oliver Luck as it’s CEO and Commissioner, but it felt like it’s first big victory came, the day St. Louis was revealed to be one of the league’s cities.
Here we are, nearly a year later and St. Louis has become the BattleHawks. The front office and coaching staff has been put in place and the team just conducted a 70 player draft. The league and its teams have been built from scratch, brick by brick, building momentum towards the moment when the league finally gets on the field in February. With team uniforms, the league rules and training camps on the horizon, the league has unveiled it’s 2020 Season Schedule. The BattleHawks are now open for business.
WEEK 1- AT THE DALLAS RENEGADES- SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 9TH/ 4PM CT/5PM ET/ GLOBE LIFE PARK/ESPN
This week, the XFL is saving their best game for last. This always seemed like potentially the marquee game for week one of the season. The who and what is a perfect fit. The when and where is certainly not what was expected. The feeling was that St. Louis would be kicking off the season for the league at home. Dallas with Bob Stoops at the helm, certainly seemed like a strong contender to be playing in the league’s premiere game. The XFL’s two most interesting teams are playing each other in week one, but they are not kicking off the season, and they are not playing in Saint Louis. Instead, the game is being played in a stadium that is currently being renovated and retrofitted for football. Dallas playing at home in week one is a surprise, beyond the location of the game itself. There are so many built in storylines for this game. From Bob Stoops returning to the sidelines and coaching pro football for the first time, to St. Louis making it’s return to Pro Football. Then there’s the Stoops-Jonathan Hayes connection dating back to their days together at Iowa and Oklahoma. You also have, Daryl ‘Moose’ Johnston leading another Texas spring pro football team, except this time back in Dallas. There’s the battle of two Air-Raid offensive coordinators in the legendary Hal Mumme and Doug Meacham. Another key storyline is, All Big 12 West Virginia Safety Kenny Robinson turning pro, before he is draft eligible for the NFL. The oddsmakers haven’t set a line for this game yet, but you have to figure that Dallas is the heavy favorite. St. Louis is potentially starting a rookie quarterback in Jordan Ta’amu, on the road. While Dallas trots an NFL veteran quarterback in Landry Jones, who reunites with Stoops, and gets to run Hal Mumme’s lethal passing attack. This is a big spot for St. Louis. A statement game if you will. Winning this game could set the team on course for big things the rest of the way.
WEEK 2- AT THE HOUSTON ROUGHNECKS- SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16TH/ 5PM CT/6PM ET/ TDECU STADIUM/FS1
You have to wonder if BattleHawks Head Coach and General Manager Jonathan Hayes will consider staying in Texas during these first two weeks. The league-wide training camp will take place in Houston in January. So the BattleHawks will be spending a lot of time in the state during the early part of 2020. This is a tough two game stretch. The BattleHawks defense will be tested in these opening two weeks. First with Hal Mumme in week one, and then followed up by June Jones and the Roughnecks offense. Despite these first two weeks being non-divisional opponents. The BattleHawks would love to come out of Texas 2-0, heading into their home opener. No team in the league has a tougher task than St. Louis to start the season.
WEEK 3- HOME VS THE NEW YORK GUARDIANS- SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23RD/ 2PM CT/3PM ET/ THE DOME/ ESPN
The most intriguing home opening game of the entire league comes in week 3. This is a historic game for the city and it should be a very emotional setting. In a 10 game season, every game is important, specifically divisional games. If the BattleHawks come in flying high at 2 and 0. They will be unstoppable in this setting. If they come into this game at 0 and 2. This might be just what the doctor ordered to save their season.
WEEK 4- HOME VS THE SEATTLE DRAGONS- SATURDAY, FEBRUARY29TH/ 4PM CT/5PM ET/ THE DOME/ FOX
After 3 straight Sunday games, St. Louis finally plays on Saturday, and finally on broadcast network television for the first time this season. This will be their third non divisional game in the first quarter of their season. It’s usually at this point of the season where the teams begin to hit their stride and have their on field identities established. In a new league with eight newly formed teams. There is going to be a growing process early on. The game has two former longtime NFL players, coaching against one another in Jonathan Hayes and Jim Zorn. St. Louis and Seattle have had plenty of history against each other in a previous pro football life.
WEEK 5- AT THE DC DEFENDERS- SUNDAY, MARCH 9TH/ 2PM CT/3PM ET/ AUDI FIELD/ FS1
The BattleHawks begin another two game road stretch, both of the games are against division opponents. In any football league, stealing road games against division foes can pay huge dividends for later in the season. St. Louis will have eight days to get ready for Cardale Jones and Pep Hamilton’s DC offense.
WEEK 6- AT THE TAMPA BAY VIPERS- SATURDAY, MARCH 15TH/ 4PM CT/ 5PM ET/RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM/ FS2
The 3rd straight Fox Sports airing of the BattleHawks. First game on FS2. St. Louis plays 4 of their first 6 games on the road. These games are very important, if the team can come out of this stretch at 3 and 3 or better. They will be in good shape. With 3 of their last 4 games at home.
WEEK 7- HOME VS THE LOS ANGELES WILDCATS- SATURDAY, MARCH 21ST/ 4PM CT/ 5PM ET/THE DOME/ FOX
Another Fox Sports airing, but this time on network television. Many XFL supporters were hoping for this game to take place in week one. Being that both these teams are in separate divisions. This game could have been at LA, but the league’s schedule makers did the fans a great service, by putting this game in St. Louis. The history between LA and STL in pro football is well known. There’s bad blood between both of these markets, and this is a natural rivalry because of it. The bad blood spills onto the sidelines, as former on field rivals Winston Moss and Jonathan Hayes, also have history with one another, dating back to their on field clashes. Winston Moss made a point to playfully call out Hayes during his introductory press conference in LA earlier this year. The buildup to this game should be a lot of fun.
WEEK 8- AT THE NEW YORK GUARDIANS- SATURDAY, MARCH 28TH/ 4PM CT/5PM ET/METLIFE STADIUM/ FOX
You would think that St. Louis was back in the NFC West, with all these Fox games on the schedule. This is a make or break stretch for the BattleHawks. They play three straight divisional games. This is their final road game of the regular season. They close out the year at home in the last two weeks. Because of the league’s brilliant scheduling of all divisional games in the final three weeks. The majority of the league’s teams will still be in contention for a playoff spot, regardless of record. How teams fare in this stretch will determine, who competes for a chance to get to the league championship. Depending on what transpired in week 3, this could be St. Louis looking to exact revenge on New York for spoiling their homecoming, or St. Louis looking to complete a season sweep on New York.
WEEK 9- HOME VS THE TAMPA BAY VIPERS- SUNDAY, APRIL 5TH/ 11AM CT/ 12PM ET/ THE DOME/ ESPN
The earliest game of the season for St. Louis. With New York and DC playing on Saturday, The BattleHawks will have a good idea where they stand, if they are in the division or playoff chase. You have reached the point of must win territory. This is the Vipers and BattleHawks second meeting in 4 weeks. One of the scheduling quirks that happens in smaller leagues. The AAF experienced this last year when San Antonio played San Diego in weeks one and three, and when Arizona also played Salt Lake in weeks one and three as well.
WEEK 10- HOME VS THE DC DEFENDERS- SUNDAY, APRIL 12TH/ 2PM CT/3PM ET/ THE DOME/ ABC*
The BattleHawks finally make their debut on ABC…. maybe. The start time and network that this game airs on is still tentative. Both Disney and Fox have reserved the option to switch this game with the New York-DC game, which is currently slated to be on FS1 at 6pm eastern. Naturally, the assumption is that this weekend’s games are being flexed depending on which divisional matchup has better playoff implications. However, the network press releases for the league schedule, has a decision date for the potential switch of this game set for a month earlier in March. So the game may be switched due to network programming changes. St. Louis could be in a prime position on the final Sunday of the season to clinch a playoff berth or division at home. This would be a great way to cap off St. Louis’s return to Pro Football.
Mike was one of the original XFLBoard.com Team Reporters in 2001. We welcome him back to the XFLBoard and look forward to his insightful contributions.