The XFL bolstered its ranks with new staff hires, including a league-wide director of player administration, heads of communications in their Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and Houston franchises, and a head of partnerships in LA.
Russ Giglio has joined as Director of Player Administration. Russ spent over eleven years at the NFL working in the Player Personnel and Football Operations departments, and most recently was the Director of Player Personnel at the former AAF. In his role at the XFL, he will be charged with overseeing Player Personnel policies and procedures, including the draft and waiver wire, and report to Doug Whaley, Senior Vice-President of Football Operations.
Lisa Milner Goldberg joins the league as head of communications for XFL Los Angeles, after eleven years working at Swanson Communications, a PR agency with a focus on boxing, individual athletes and live events. Allen Barrett will head up communications for XFL Tampa Bay after 11 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he most recently served as Senior Communications Manager. Charles Hampton comes to Houston as head of communications for XFL Houston, where he spent eight years with the Houston Texans before heading up the athletic communications team at Grand Canyon University for the past four years.
Jim Baral also joins XFL Los Angeles as the Senior Director of Partnerships, after consulting for the Los Angeles Chargers for the past year and a half. A native of Los Angeles, Jim led media sales and marketing for Univision Networks and Cox Communications on the west coast for over 20 years.
The testing at the Summer Showcase is meant to gather feedback from players and coaches.
The balls being tested are brown, with white laces, and all feature a stylized purple and white “X” on each end. The difference between the balls seem to be the texture of the ball. There is no indication as to the manufacturer of the test balls.
The new ball design was originally shown in a Twitter post and then discussed in the XFLBoard forums.
The idea of the XFL having a markedly unique football hearkens back to 2001, and the original black and red XFL ball. That ball was loved by fans, and hated by detractors to the league, even going so far as claiming the ball was hard to handle and throw. In fact, former XFL Quarterback and MVP Tommy Maddox has gone on record to say the original XFL ball was “very hard to grip and throw but they made adjustments to it and it became very easy to throw.”
Clearly, we can see how the 2020 version of the XFL is actively testing what may become their signature ball. Let’s hope they get it right, and the 2020 ball is just as loved as the 2001 version.
At the first it was very hard to grip and throw but they made adjustments to it and it became very easy to throw.
Last week the XFL revealed they would hold “Summer Showcase” tryout camps in XFL cities. We have now confirmed that these tryouts are by invitation only, and there will be approximately one-hundred players invited to each camp, where the coaches and league’s football operations staff will conduct an evaluation.
Potential players have been scouted by the league and are being invited through their agents. The invitation process began on May 13th, and agents are being instructed as to the details of the timing and documentation required.
The players invited are expected to be players who are currently Street Free Agents, players from the 2019 NFL Draft class, etc. Immediately following each showcase, the league will begin considering players to sign to XFL League Contracts.
The XFL will be gathering info on these players for signings and for the draft. The tryout camps will entail:
Height, weight and measurements for each player
Combine like testing; 40 Yard Dash, Shuttle drills etc
Individual positional workouts and 1 on 1 drills led by the XFL coaching staffs
Private additional workouts and meetings with XFL Coaching staffs
Player interviews and background info
It is reported that the XFL intends to make the Showcases open to the general public and media. More details will be released soon.
The official dates and locations:
6/7 Dallas- Maverick Stadium in Arlington, Texas
6/8 Houston- TDECU Stadium
6/14 New York- Sprague Field at Montclair State University
6/15 DC- St. James Complex in Northern Virginia
6/21 LA- Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Beach
6/22- Seattle- Memorial Stadium in Seattle
6/29- Tampa- Raymond James Stadium
7/13- St. Louis- LFA Training Center
Note: This information posted with contributions by Mike Mitchell.
The XFL has announced they would introduce the new Head Coach/GM of the Houston franchise on May 20th at 11:30 am CT, at TDECU Stadium Club at the University Of Houston. The candidate, former Falcons and Chargers head coach June Jones, has widely been made known prior to the official unveiling, as it was originally tweeted by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
June Jones has been hired as the first head coach of Houston’s new XFL team. He was OC of CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where he was the head coach in 2018. Jones was an assistant with Oilers and Gamblers as well as HC of Falcons, Chargers, Hawaii and SMU.
In the past, the 66-year-old Jones has spent three years as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, and acted as interim head coach of the San Diego Chargers. More recently, he served as Head Coach of the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the past two years.
Jones also has some local experience, since (as a young football coach) he was wide receivers coach of the USFL’s Houston Gamblers. Later he served as quarterbacks coach for the Houston Oilers. In these roles, he had a hand in the careers of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Jim Kelly and Warren Moon.
Jones will be the eight and final Head Coach hired by the XFL prior to their inaugural season kickoff in February 2020.
So far, there is no indication as to who the candidate may be. There are only vague rumors that Jim Mora Jr. and Mike McCoy may be possible hires. Mora was Head Coach at UCLA between 2012 and 2017, and has coached in the NFL for different teams including the San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. McCoy served four seasons as head coach of the San Diego Chargers. He also has coached in the NFL, most recently as the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. Neither of these rumored names have been confirmed.
Noteworthy, is how strained the head coach hiring process seems to have become for the XFL. Of the eight XFL teams, the first six head coaches were announced as Bob Stoops (Dallas) on 7 February, Pep Hamilton (Washington) on 21 February, Jim Zorn (Seattle) on 25 February, Marc Trestman (Tampa Bay) on 5 March, Kevin Gilbride (New York) on 16 April, and Jonathan Hayes (St. Louis) on 18 April. It should be noted there was a long pause before Gilbride and Hayes were announced, and another relatively long pause before next Tuesday’s announcement. At one point in time, XFL representatives boasted they would have completed the hiring of head coaches for all franchises by March. Everything considered, they are two-months behind their originally planned schedule.
After Tuesday’s announcement, only the Houston franchise will be without a Head Coach/GM.
On Tuesday, the XFL is planning to hold a press conference in New York’s Times Square to announce the Head Coach/General manager, and the President of their New York franchise. Today, Fox Sports announcer Jay Glazer reported that the Head Coach candidate would be Kevin Gilbride.
Hearing former Giants coach Kevin Gilbride is returning to coaching in New York… as the XFL head coach.
The 67-year-old Gilbride has a New York connection as he is a former member of the New York Giants’ coaching staff, serving for ten seasons. The last seven seasons of his tenure he served as their offensive coordinator, and served in this role during the Giant’s two most recent Super Bowl championships. Gilbride retired from the Giant’s after the 2013 season.
Prior to coaching with the Giants, Gilbride was Head Coach for San Diego, where he posted a 6-16 record between 1997 and 1998. He has plenty of other NFL experience, as he has been a member of the coaching staff of the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburg Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Oilers.
Early in his football career, Gilbride attended Southern Connecticut State University, where he played both quarterback and tight end.
On Monday, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck was a guest on the Bloomberg Business of Sports Summit podcast. Hosts Carol Massar, Michael Barr, and Jason Kelly interviewed Luck about the business aspects of the upcoming league.
When asked about the differences between the old XFL and the new. Luck eagerly responded that the new XFL would be, “a league for serious football fans, where the game is taken seriously.” He added, “It’s an up-tempo, fast-paced kind of a game with fewer breaks and fewer stoppages,” and then pointed out that this was, “one of the things football fans complain about.”
As for innovations, Luck made a point that the game of football, as good as it was, had left room for a few innovations. “We’ve got some innovations we’re looking at doing that we feel will improve the game,” Luck said. “It’s a tough game to improve, because right now, I believe as many fans do, whether it’s the NFL, or major college football, it’s probably at an all time high in terms of the way the game is being played, and the quality of the game.” Luck added, “We feel there are a number of places we can innovate and be a bit different.”
Luck did not go into specific details as to the innovations he was referring to, nor did the interviewers inquire about further information.
When asked about the gimmickry of the 2001 version of the league, Luck pointed out he thought the new XFL would have plenty of “fun moments.” However, he clarified, “What we don’t want to do is have gimmicks. Americans care about football and it’s become sort of our secular religion, and our stadiums are our Cathedral.”
When asked about player nicknames, such as Rod Smart and “He Hate Me,” Luck mentioned, “Rod Smart was a solid player, but it was overshadowed by the name on the jersey.”
More seriously, Luck also spoke about the XFL’s planned response to head trauma. “In 2001, nobody was worried about head trauma. And now, in today’s football world, NFL, College, Pop Warner, High School, there is a serious legitimate concern. So, we want to make sure we are doing things from a health and safety perspective as well.” Later in the interview, he added, “Our players, at least initially, won’t be unionized. So, I think I have to look out as a Commissioner for our players.”
As for competition with the AAF, Luck was quick to point out he felt there was “plenty of space for all of us to coexist” in the current football landscape. “There are 85 million football fans in this country, almost half of whom are diehard passionate fans. We’re going to go into these markets, New York, Washington D.C., Dallas, Houston, Seattle, where we’ve got real passionate fans. Those are not markets where the other league is in, as they are playing in some smaller markets like San Antonio or Salt Lake City… they’ve chosen a little different strategy. I think there is plenty of football, in terms of the ability of the American fan to really enjoy and appreciate the game.”
More specifically, Luck remarked that he had been watching the AAF’s progress. “We’ve watched the Alliance and I think they’ve done some things very well, and some other things I think did not go so well, but we have our own business plan and ideals.”
Luck was also asked how the XFL would approach gambling. “We want to offer a league with Integrity and consistency so that folks do want to in fact gamble, wager. We want Vegas to put a line on our games, which is difficult for a brand-new league. The Alliance is finding that out as well.”
When asked for more details about gambling, Luck was not able to offer many specifics. “That’s all being figured out. It’s taking a relatively slow pace considering the state by state nature of this.” Luck also indicated that “things may not be clearer,” even when the XFL launches in 2020.
“Your Call Football” is an interactive football competition where online spectators call the plays via a smartphone app. Now in their second season, games are held on Monday evenings and played by relatively high quality players who are largely recent cuts from NFL and CFL rosters.
As well as “Your Call Football,” the XFL has also tested their proposed rules with community colleges, and is partnered with the Spring League to continue to test the league’s unique set of rules during their upcoming Spring 2019 season.
Eighteen years ago, when Vince McMahon talked about the first version of his pro-football league, he continuously made the boast that his league would have the best cheerleaders. He insisted that football and cheerleaders belonged together, and that the cheerleaders should have a greater role in the game day product. ‘
Of course, other sports leagues are no strangers to promoting the sex-appeal of cheerleaders, but the 2001 version of the XFL packaged and sold the cheerleaders as sex objects.
At one point, in an interview with “ESPN The Magazine,” McMahon even made the outlandish claim that players would date the cheerleaders, and the fans would know if they were doing the “wild thing.”
“Yes, our cheerleaders will date our players,” McMahon said. “Yes, they’ll be hot babes … We’re going to have three or four of them surround our announcers — who’ll be sitting in the stands, by the way… then, when the quarterback fumbles or the wideout drops a pass — and we know who he’s dating — I want our reporters right back in her face on the sidelines demanding to know whether the two of them did the wild thing last night.”
That’s right. He said, “the wild thing.”
In an era that brought us reality television, Vince McMahon, the master showman, was willing to take things as far as anyone could imagine and put the cameras in places they had never gone before. The XFL cheerleaders were a key part of this plan.
On game day, the cheerleaders were normally not found on the field. They were featured on specially constructed platforms situated within the stands, right where the hungry eyes of the fans could get a good look at them. A large crowd of men usually surrounded the cheerleader’s location.
Why would a woman sign up to be an ogled at by strange men? Bonnie-Jill Laflin, a cheerleader with the XFL’s Los Angeles Xtreme, revealed, “I decided to do the XFL because for me it was great exposure and I hoped it would help with my sports broadcasting career. But what they have shown so far on national TV is girls looking like strippers, and it looks like we may not get all the breaks we thought we would get.” Clearly, not everyone enjoyed cheerleading for the XFL.
Unfortunately for Vince McMahon, using cheerleaders to garner popularity for his league didn’t always go well. In what is now billed as the “worst halftime football stunt in history,” Vince McMahon sent a cameraman into the Orlando Rage Cheerleaders locker room. When fans realized it was a WWE-style scripted scenario, it fell as flat as a pancake… despite the fact it featured a cameo by a towel-clad Rodney Dangerfield. Even Rodney’s popularity couldn’t save the day, and this debacle is now how many remember the XFL.
Complete turnaround in 2020
When it comes to cheerleaders, in 2020 we will see a complete one-eighty. When Vince McMahon relaunched the XFL in January 2018, he said plainly, “There will be no cheerleaders.” This is a far cry from talking about “the wild thing.”
In trying to create a new XFL that is all about “better football,” McMahon is now using a lack of cheerleaders as a wedge, just to prove how serious he is about cleaning up his league.
“I think dropping the cheerleaders entirely was a really easy, clean way to separate yourself from the worst parts of the old XFL, especially considering today’s climate. You don’t have to waste any effort of explaining how 2020’s cheerleaders would be presented differently than in 2001.”
So, it’s a brand new XFL, and the lack of cheerleaders proves it!
So far, as shown in the results of this recent XFLBoard Twitter poll, fans seem to be in agreement with the plan to shelve the cheerleaders. However, the result is clearly not a landslide.
When Vince McMahon announced #XFL2020 he declared there would be no cheerleaders. Are you okay with this? #XFL
We will see what happens next February, when the players hit the field. How many fans will be disappointed by the absence of the infamous XFL cheerleaders?
In a well-known 2001 photo, San Francisco Demons fan Chris Wright held a sign proclaiming his young desires. We hope, eighteen years later, a grown-up Chris Wright is not too disappointed when he discovers the XFL Cheerleaders he once coveted are no longer part of the game day experience.