XFL Seattle Dragons running back Kenneth Farrow is optimistic

Kenneth Farrow
Seattle Dragons running back Kenneth Farrow (Credit: XFL.com)

In a shortened XFL season, Seattle Dragons running back Kenneth Farrow was just getting started. But the dream season ended when the XFL had to cancel its remaining games, essentially cutting the season in half.

“It kind of took everybody by surprise,” Farrow said, referring to the sudden end of the XFL season. “We kind of saw everybody else falling and felt we weren’t too far behind.”

Farrow recalled that once the NBA season and “March Madness” were cancelled, they knew that the XFL season was sure to be the next to go.

And it was.

Speaking from his home in Houston, instead of preparing to play week eight of the XFL season where the Seattle Dragons were scheduled to travel to Dallas, Kenneth is staying safe and practicing good social distancing.

“I’m back in Houston and everything’s good. I’m feeling great,” Farrow said. “So just kind of trying to stay indoors and stay away from everything that’s going on right now.”

Still he can’t help but feel blessed to have been part of the XFL’s Seattle Dragons, even in the truncated first season.

“That was a fun time. Anytime you get to go out there and play in front of millions on TV, you know, that’s kind of what you live for,” he said. “It was definitely a great opportunity for us to get out there and be able to showcase what we got on the football field.”

Also, being part of a team is an essential part of what gave Farrow the feeling that the opportunity of playing in the XFL was worthwhile.

“Being able to be a part of the team and, you know, make new relationships with new guys that we played against each other and maybe never had chance to be on the same team. So, it’s definitely a fun opportunity for everybody,” Farrow said.

Farrow should be satisfied with his XFL 2020 performance. In a crowded backfield, he shared running back duties with Ja’Quan Gardner and Trey Williams.

“We had a little rotation going there. Keeping everybody fresh,” Farrow explained.

The three running backs gave the Seattle Dragons strength in the backfield, something Farrow considers to be an important part of their game plan.

“That was going to be kind of a strength of our team and you know, kind of looking back, we were able to run the ball. It was pretty effective.”

Considering the season had just hit the halfway point, we wonder how the Seattle running game would have evolved to become. Of course, this is something we will never know.

Farrow was marginally the top Seattle running back with 38 carries for 156 yards, an average of 4.1 yards per carry. He had one touchdown, a pass into the end zone from quarterback Brandon Silvers in the game against the Dallas Renegades.

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Surely though, there was more to come.

Last year, Farrow was a standout running back with the San Antonio Commanders. During week four of the AAF season, Farrow recorded 142 yards on 30 carries against the undefeated Birmingham Iron’s second-ranked defense, to lead San Antonio to a 12–11 victory. He was named the AAF Offensive Player of the Week for this effort. Unfortunately, the AAF season was cut short after week eight when the league suspended operations.

With the XFL season being cut this year, one might think this must sound like déjà vu for Farrow.

“Oh yeah, definitely,” Farrow said. “I kinda saw it coming and I kind of expected it, a little bit more than maybe some of the other guys.”

Still, he takes the setback with a good attitude, and is taking his off-time as an opportunity to work with the “Grind with a Purpose” Foundation, something that is near and dear to his heart.

“It’s a mentorship program, we do with inner city kids out here,” Kenneth explained.

“We started back in 2017 in Houston and we’ve done a couple of sessions in Seattle. We were able to get to an elementary school and kind of talk with some kids there. But out here in Houston we’ve had about 80 kids total go through the program. It’s like a 10-week program, just character building and trying to teach the kids better ways of going about their daily lives.”

Kenneth reports that he has brought in other Seattle Dragons players such as BJ Daniels and Trey Williams to help out with the foundation.

Next week the foundation plans a live Instagram broadcast, as they are continuing their work even in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.  People should look for more information on Twitter @KennethMFarrow or on the website grindwithapurpose.org

As for Farrow, when asked where we may see him next on a football field, he leaves all options open, and is positive about being able to step up in his career.

“I’ll definitely get an opportunity at the next level,” Farrow said optimistically. “And go in there and take full advantage of it. Whether it be the NFL or the XFL, I definitely think I’ll put tape out there to show that I can still play at a high level.”

We all know a good attitude can often lead to opportunity, and we wish Kenneth Farrow all the opportunities we know he deserves.

“You know, who knows,” Kenneth said. “Who knows where I land next. But, I’ll definitely be ready when that time comes.”

You may hear a longer interview with Kenneth Farrow in Episode 32 of the XFL Xtra podcast

When faced with officiating controversy the XFL continues to strive for transparency

Saturday’s Seattle-Houston game ended prematurely while there was still a chance for Seattle to attempt a play that may have tied the game. (Twitter: Tim Donnelly)

In the first three weeks of the inaugural XFL season, officiating went off without a hitch. Calls were made by on-field officials, and many were quickly confirmed by the official in the booth, while many other decisions were overturned. All the while, as booth decisions were made and transmitted to on-field officials, the conversation was also broadcasted to fans, creating a chain of communication that was open and transparent.

Fans loved it, especially since the XFL is the first league to be so transparent in their officiating decisions. On top of being good communication, it also gave fans a special insight into game. It was like they were now a part of the decisions.

However, week 4 of the XFL marked the first “blown” call under this system. It was in the 2nd quarter of the “Texas Showdown” between the Dallas Renegades and the Houston Roughnecks where Dallas tight end Donald Parham reached out over the goal line with ball in hand, and was awarded a touchdown. However, a replay showed that the ball had slipped out of his hand just before it crossed the goal line. Unfortunately, even though all scoring plays are supposed to be reviewed in the XFL, the touchdown stood, and the reason behind the decision was not immediately explained.

Suddenly, fans saw the XFL not being open and transparent about a call.

Fortunately, a short time later, Dean Blandino, the Head of XFL Officiating, was seen on the broadcast admitting the play should have been reviewed, and that the league would strive to do better in the future.

After the week 4 Blandino explanation, all was well again. After all, fans could not expect the XFL to get it right every time, could they? Besides, they were working on it, right?

Unfortunately, in week 5 of the XFL, ugly officiating made a return to further haunt the league.

At the end of a thrilling Houston Roughnecks game against the Seattle Dragons, Houston quarterback PJ Walker attempted to kill off the game clock on 4th down, and kneeled with two seconds still left to play. Officials declared the game ended and even left the field. Meanwhile, the broadcast media was crying foul, as 2 seconds was enough time for the Seattle Dragons to attempt one last play into the end zone, and if successful, there would have been the potential to tie the game.

Fans were not impressed. Most were disappointed that they were left with no explanation, other than the broadcast media interpretation that the Seattle Dragons had been cheated.

On Saturday evening, a few hours after the game ended, the XFL released the following statement:

“Saturday’s Seattle Dragons-Houston Roughnecks game should not have ended as it did. Replays showed clearly that the knee of Houston quarterback P.J. Walker touched the field, rendering him “down” and the fourth-down play officially completed, with approximately two seconds remaining on the clock – effectively turning the ball over to Seattle on downs. With a nine-point differential in the score, Seattle was denied an opportunity to tie the game. The XFL sincerely regrets this error. In addition, Wes Booker, who served as Officiating Supervisor for Saturday’s game, has been reassigned.”

Clearly, the XFL is striving to maintain the perception of transparency, something that has been a hallmark of their officiating in the early part of the season.

In a post week 3 interview, Dean Blandino remarked that transparency was the goal, and he hinted that having top officials was part of the XFL’s success up to that point in the season.

“I think transparency helps. I think sometimes it’s circumstance. Sometimes things just happen that are out of your control.” Blandino explained. “But I think we’ve got a really good staff of officials. All of our officials are division one college football officials and they’ve been very good for a very long time, and they’ve really worked hard to pick up the XFL rules.”

Still, the impression is that this is a work in progress. Based on the XFL’s reaction to the latest incidents, they appear to be working hard to make necessary corrections.

But will the fans understand? Probably. A certain level of understanding has already appeared in the XFLBoard discussion forums:

At least they admitted the mistake and there were consequences.
— Metallifreak10

I really have to admire the league for stepping up and taking responsibility for the error. Undoubtedly, this same incident won’t ever happen again in the league and at the end of it all, that’s all we can really hope for or expect.
— Firecop

Clearly, the fans can be led to understand these type of situations, if the league remains open and transparent in their decisions.

James Butler makes the most of his opportunity with the Houston Roughnecks

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James Butler, a native of Wheaton, Illinois, and a graduate of the St. Francis High School football program, played college football with the University of Nevada Wolfpack.

After college he was signed as an undrafted free agent to the Oakland Raiders. However, Butler did not see a regular season game, and in fact, he was cut by the Raiders four times. They must have liked him, because they kept bringing him back, but Butler never saw any significant playing time with the Raiders.

After the Raiders, Butler even had a short stint in the CFL, but the prospect of a pro football career eluded him until January 2020 when he received a call from the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL.

In fact, James Butler had just finished a workout for the Green Bay Packers, and was in Green Bay airport when he received the call. Still, Butler jumped at the chance to join the Roughnecks, who had already started their pre-season training camp.

Fast forward to Week 3 of the XFL, and James Butler is the number four rusher in the XFL with 130 yds and two touchdowns. In his latest game with the Roughnecks, Butler carried the ball 7 times for 72 yards, averaging 10.3 yards per carry.

When told his stats, Butler was surprised by the numbers.

“I was trying to make the most of every opportunity,” he said.

“A lot of guys in my same position are getting that opportunity that we wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the XFL giving all these guys an opportunity. And as you can see a lot of guys are starting to flourish from the XFL,” James explained. “As you can see the whole world is watching, so it’s just awesome that guys like me can just take advantage of these opportunities that we’re given.”

And Butler seems to be making the most of his XFL opportunity. His performance is even more surprising since he is part of an offense that is better known for its passing game. As it is turning out, having a potent running game is making the Roughnecks even more powerful.

Butler modestly described the Roughnecks as an all-round great team.

“Great quarterback, great receivers and you know, coach June, dialing up the plays. An, you know our defense has really been stars too. So, I just felt like we’ve done really well as a collective,” Butler said.

Being on a successful pro-football team is fun for Butler. He spent Monday morning on a local morning show, “Wake up Houston,” and he said he enjoys being in the spotlight, but he quickly deferred to the fact that the entire team is enjoying the attention Houston has been giving them.

“I feel like this whole team is in the spotlight. It’s awesome that we have a whole team of guys who are just doing great things and making the most of the opportunities,” he said. “We’re still just trying to go out and win every game, win as many games as we possibly can, and just take advantage of these opportunities, because we know how many eyes are now on this team.”

Houston fans have embraced the Roughnecks, and they have literally embraced Butler since he has made a habit of jumping into the stands after he has scored a touchdown.

“It’s called the ‘Houston Hop’,” James said. “We also want the people watching the game and at the game to have a blast. I really feel like that’s a way to really get people involved.”

The fans seem to love it.

To hear more from James Butler’s interview check out XFL Xtra -Episode 26

Dontez “Speedy” Byrd is flying high in Seattle

Going into week one of the XFL, Seattle Dragons wide receiver Dontez “Speedy Byrd was fulfilling his topmost desire, and that was to play pro-football.

After his senior year at Tennessee Tech, where he had a stellar year catching 78 passes for 1,003 yards, and six TDs, Dontez could only imagine getting onto an NFL roster. After spending time with the Atlanta Falcons in the 2018 NFL pre-season, and with the Memphis Express of the AAF in 2019, he remained a free agent.

Being out of football, Dontez had expressed a desire to play in the XFL for a while. Finally the Seattle Dragons came calling in January 2020, and offered to fly him to Houston in the middle of a busy training camp.

Byrd did not hesitate to jump at the opportunity.

“Sometimes you never know when you’re going to be called, or when the opportunity is going to come, but when opportunity is given, you can’t leave any doubts,” Byrd said.

In other words, Dontez strongly feels that such an opportunity should not be taken lightly, and he has demonstrated this on the football field. After joining the Dragons, Byrd has proven he deserves a spot on the Dragons starting roster by his performance in game one of the XFL season, where he impressed by catching two passes for 34 yards, including a beautiful catch along the sidelines while he was being covered closely.

“I know when my number is called, I got to make that play,” Dontez said modestly. “Not only is my coach depending on me to make that play, but a lot of my teammates are depending on me to make plays as well.”

After a loss to the Defenders in the first week, Byrd claims the Dragons learned from their mistakes, which allowed them to beat the Tampa Bay Vipers in the next game.

“We went into DC for our first game. We learned a lot that game, and had some things we needed to get fixed in order to get the win against the Vipers,” Byrd explained. “We went back to practice the week after we played against DC and got better as a group and really just honed down on the details and got ready to go against the Vipers.”

It seemed to work. Now, the Dragons are focused on their next opponent, the Dallas Renegades. Dontez also pointed out that this next game is a divisional game, which makes it all the more important.

“It’s our first conference game. So, we need to take this game very serious and get a win.”

We will be watching for Dontez “Speedy” Byrd this Saturday 20 February, when the Dallas Renegades play the Seattle Dragons at 2PM PST at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

To hear the entire interview with Dontez Byrd, check out the XFL Xtra Podcast – Episode 25

XFL Week 2 attendance saw growth due to good numbers in Seattle

Oliver Luck
XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck stands in front of over 29,000 fans in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. (Credit: XFL.com)

In its second week of operation the XFL overall attendance numbers grew, mainly because of 29,172 fans who attended the Seattle Dragons first game at CenturyLink Field.

In week two, the league attracted 76,285 fans to its games, as opposed to 69,818 in week one. This equates to a 9.5-percent increase.

Although Seattle saw success in their inaugural game numbers, the two teams that already hosted their inaugural games saw slightly lower numbers. A slightly lower 15,031 came to see the DC Defenders 27-0 win over the New York Guardians, 12.4 percent down from the previous week’s game. The Houston Roughnecks had 17,103 in attendance for their 28-24 win over the St. Louis BattleHawks, four-percent down from their opening game.

In the Los Angeles home opener, the Wildcats had 14,979 fans in attendance at Dignity Health Sports Park for their 25-18 loss to Dallas. This was the smallest crowd to date, but still a respectable number.  Click-bait news sites attempted to downplay the LA attendance by using social media images taken during the pregame warm-up which showed the stands relatively empty. However, as is a norm in the LA market, the stands filled out nicely once the game was underway.

A packed CenturyLink Field also gave the Seattle Dragons a boost, since fan noise became a factor for the opposing Tampa Bay Vipers.

In week three, the XFL may see even stronger overall attendance numbers since there is another home game in Seattle, and the opening home game in St. Louis, where it is reported the game is very nearly sold out.

Wide Receiver Colby Pearson’s story is being told as a New York Guardian

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New York Guardians Wide receiver Colby Pearson grew up in Blackfoot, Idaho, where he played football for the Blackfoot High School Broncos. In his senior year he caught 77 passes for 1,246 yards and 22 touchdowns, enabling the Broncos to go 12-1, and win the 4A state title.

Pearson followed his stellar high school career by signing with the Cougars of Brigham Young University. In his senior year he led the team in touchdown receptions with four, and was second on the team in 38 receptions for 384 receiving yards.

In 2017, Pearson was signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent. Due to injuries he was waived on August 28, 2017. In December, he was re-signed to the practice squad, and later signed a reserve/future contract with the Packers on January 2, 2018.

On July 30, 2018, Pearson went to the Atlanta Falcons. Suffering another injury in training camp, he was waived with an injury settlement.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been having this this battle with the injury bug. I had two injuries when I was in Green Bay and then got injured again in the pre-season when I was in Atlanta,” Colby explained.

In the summer of 2019 Pearson was invited to the XFL Summer Showcase in Seattle. Soon afterward he was invited to the XFL draft which took place in October 2019.

On draft day, Pearson followed the picks closely, but was disappointed that he never heard his name called. On day two of the draft, he went to the gym, just to take his mind off things.

“I was actually just training, because that first day it (the draft) came and I didn’t get a call from them. So, I was kind of bummed out. I was, I don’t know what the next step is,” Colby recalled.  “So, I had gone back to the gym to train like normal, and I think that’s when I got the call.”

Colby was surprised to get a call from the New York Guardians during the open phase of the draft. Things began to move quickly now that he had joined the Guardians organization.

As a Guardian, Colby went through a mini camp, a training camp, and endured cut-downs to gain a spot on the Guardians roster.

This was Colby Pearson’s journey to play pro football. Now, do you wonder where that long journey took him?

It took him to the New York Guardian’s opening game where he caught two passes for 44 yards and his first pro football touchdown.

Colby Pearson
Colby Pearson enjoys a moment of glory, as he is interviewed about his touchdown catch.

Despite the career milestone, Pearson was modest in response. Instead of talking about his TD, he focused on pointing out that the Guardians offense still needed fine tuning.

“We were just happy to get out there first game of the year and come out with the W,” he said. “Execution wise, on offense we have little things to clean up and I think we’re going to have a really productive offense.”

After the Guardians came away with a win in their opening game, Pearson pointed out they are focusing on their next game against the DC Defenders.

“From watching just their first game a little bit on TV, I think they were a tough team as well,” he said. “We’re going to have our hands full. So, we have a good week of preparation… we have a short preparation week and so we know we’re going to have our hands full and we have to get ready and hit it hard.”

Colby is right. There is never going to be a rest for the Guardians, since the short 10-week XFL regular season has no bye weeks. Every week, each team is involved in a new matchup.

When asked about the league’s slogan, “For the love of football,” Colby was quick to point out it was about players who are trying to make a statement.

“Every guy here in the XFL has his own story, and at some point things didn’t work out for them. I think, in order to play in the startup league, everyone’s had a kind of sacrifice, and it really goes to show that the players here really have a love for the game, and they feel like they have untold stories out there.”

We are happy to report that Colby Pearson’s story is now being told as a Guardian. We wish Colby all the best on the football field, with hope that he remains a healthy, productive wide receiver for the New York Guardians of the XFL.

Colby Pearson and the New York Guardians meet the DC Defenders in Washington on Sat 15-Feb-20 at 2PM ET on ABC.

To hear the entire interview with Colby Pearson, check out the XFL Xtra Podcast – Episode 24

Seattle Dragon’s Center Kirk Barron is ready for XFL football

Kirk Barron (right) is shown during a joint practice with the Dallas Renegades.
Seattle Dragon’s Kirk Barron (right) is shown during a joint practice with the Dallas Renegades. (Credit Twitter @XFLDragons)

In October, Kirk Barron was with family when he heard his name called at the XFL draft.

“I was living in Denver at the time and I went home for it, back to Mishawaka, Indiana and I was with my mom, my girlfriend, and my grandma,” he said. “I just heard my name called, and it was just instant relief knowing that I was still playing the game.”

“I’ve always wanted to be drafted and, you know, that was pretty cool to hear your name called.”

Like many college football players, Kirk graduated with a burning desire to play pro football.  Of course, fulfilling that dream became one of the great challenges of his young life.

After a successful career with the Purdue Boilermakers, under head coach Jeff Brohm, Barron set his sights on the NFL. He was signed as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins in May 2019, but was waived later that month.

Over the summer, the XFL came calling in the way of an invitation to attend the June 14th XFL Summer Showcase in New York. Barron attended the showcase, and XFL coaches took a good look at the offensive line specialist.

Later in the summer, less than two weeks before their season opener, the Cincinnati Bengals signed Barron to add depth to their offensive line. However, in a move that must have frustrated the young football player, they waived him a few days later.

Patience brought positive news, as Barron received an invitation to the XFL draft. Soon afterward, he was chosen by the Seattle Dragons on day one of the draft, during the Offensive Lineman phase.

Despite the challenges, Barron remains positive about his road to pro football, and credits his girlfriend and family for motivating him to keep going.

“It’s really hard to explain it. You got the guys like the Russell Wilson’s of the world, or the Tom Brady’s who worked their butts off. They’re also extremely lucky because they needed an opportunity or a shot. And the thing with playing professional football is that you got to keep to it. Just because someone says no at the time, does not mean that that’s the end of your career,” Barron remarked. “I know I wouldn’t be in the XFL right now and still playing football. If it wasn’t for my family or my girlfriend. I mean they definitely pushed me. They know how much the game of football means to me and they pushed me to keep with it. I’m very grateful that they did.”

Barron has now been through a mini camp and a training camp with the Dragons and he is ready to travel to the team’s inaugural game in Washington, DC this Saturday.

As for the Dragons, Barron believes they are a winning squad.

“Our defense is pretty tenacious, the get after the ball. The offense like to run the ball, I feel like, but we’re not afraid to air it out. We’re pretty balanced… I just think we’re a really complete team.”

As for Barron, one of his jobs is to protect the quarterback.

“You protect him like he’s the President,” he said.

We look forward to seeing Kirk Barron on the field for the Seattle Dragons this Saturday in the XFL opening game.

To hear the entire interview with Kirk Barron, check out the XFL Xtra Podcast – Episode 22

Four things we need to happen when the XFL returns

With the XFL kicking off on 8 February, we’d like to point out four things XFL fans would love to see happen in conjunction with the kickoff. Of course, innovative spring football is the topmost desire of all fans, and it seems  this is something they are about to receive. However, getting these four additional things to come to fruition would be the icing on the cake.

1. Vince McMahon needs to say, “This is the XFL!”

Vince McMahon has to go on the field to introduce the XFL. The previous time McMahon did this on 3 February 2001, at the XFL debut game between the NY/NJ Hitmen vs Las Vegas Outlaws at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, remains an iconic moment of the the first XFL, and has actually become a meme for the league’s identity.

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Of course, McMahon doesn’t have to hype the league the same way. He could easily talk about the two years of work Alpha Entertainment has done to build his new league.

However, he has to say, “This is the XFL!” in his signature gravelly voice. This part is mandatory.

2. Trot out the old XFL football heroes

The league needs to bring out some of the old XFL heroes. Players like Tommy Maddox, Rod Smart, Jeff Brohm and John Avery should be brought out to comment on the new league. This would serve to make a decent connection between the old league and new in a positive way.

Players like Maddox and Smart, who had great success in the NFL after their XFL playing time, would serve to point out that the XFL is about great football, and nothing else.

3. Make sure people know the “X” does not stand for “Xtreme”

The fact is that the “X” in XFL never really stood for anything, and that fact remains true in the 2020 version of the league.

History lesson: When the first incarnation of the league was envisioned, it was originally thought XFL would stand for “Xtreme Football League.” However, since there was already a league in formation with that name, for legal purposes the league decided that the “X” did not stand for anything.

However this did not stick.  Even a true XFL fan like Homer Simpson thought the “X” stood for “Xtreme.” In fact, this animated gif meme is often seen when people are referring to the XFL on social media.

So, the XFL needs to work hard to ensure that people know the “X” doesn’t stand for anything.

In a Sports Illustrated interview with XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck, the league’s name was discussed. In describing the origin of the league’s name, it was stated, “The F and the L act to indicate, if only indirectly, a football league. But the X is a variable. It could mean anything.”

Let’s go with that.

4. Someone needs to tell Homer Simpson the XFL is back

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The last time the “XFL” was mentioned on “The Simpsons” was in the season 13 episode “The Old Man and the Key” (aired March 10, 2002), where Marge had to break bad news to Homer that the XFL had folded:

Marge:  Honey, I’ve got some bad news for you.
Homer: Not now, Marge. I’m waiting for the new XFL season! Who will win this year’s million-dollar game? Who? Who?
Marge: Honey…
Homer: (Making an X with his fingers) The “X” is for “Xtreme.”
Marge: There is no XFL this year. The league folded.
Homer: Who told you?
Marge: Last year’s MVP. He sweeps up toenails at the beauty parlor.

Don’t you think it’s high time that Marge tells Homer that his favorite football league is back? In fact, this would be a great way to promote the league, especially since memes based on this Simpsons clip are quite predominate on the web. Let’s create a new meme… “Homer is thrilled that the XFL is back!”

Maybe they could do an entire story line where Homer is excited to hear the XFL is returning, and he actually goes to an XFL game. Since The Simpsons is on Fox, a broadcast partner of the XFL, there is a chance such a crossover could actually be a reality.

It’s worthwhile to note, the XFL MVP Marge was referring to was Tommy Maddox, and he actually did not have to “sweep up toenails” after the XFL folded. Instead, he spent three years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the first two as their starting quarterback.

Kicker Garrett Hartley’s XFL Dream Derailed

Garrett Hartley - New Orleans Saints
Garrett Hartley – New Orleans Saints

On Wednesday 22 January, veteran NFL kicker Garrett Hartley tweeted from Tulane University in New Orleans, and said he was excited to say he was signed by an XFL team. In the days after this initial announcement, fans followed Garrett on social media when he revealed he was going to the Seattle Dragons, then when he flew to Seattle, and even when he tried on his white Seattle Dragons uniform pants.

We all remembered Hartley playing for the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, where he went 3-for-3 with field goals from 46, 44, and 47 yards, to become the first kicker in Super Bowl history to convert three field goals of 40 yards or more.

Once in Seattle, Garrett put on a show for the XFL Dragons, making 19 of 20 field goals, the longest from the 55-yard line. For the Dragons coaches, this confirmed the video they had seen of Hartley working out on the field at Tulane. His leg was still in shape, and he was more than ready to kick for the XFL.

However, there was still the matter of medical clearance. Unfortunately, Hartley was soon told that an XFL physician would not clear him for game play, since he had undergone spinal surgery where one of the original discs in his neck had been replaced by an artificial disc.

Not passing his medical was the last thing on Garrett Hartley’s mind, as he said over the phone from New Orleans on Thursday evening.

“I’ve already been cleared medically through my world-renowned spine surgeon, Dr. Watkins Jr., and as well as cleared through another surgeon at Tulane, through my MRI reports,” Garrett said. “I would never put myself in jeopardy to play a game if it meant I can ultimately suffer lifelong consequences because of it.”

The medical snag was also a surprise to the Seattle Dragons’ coaches that had coaxed Garrett to come to Seattle.

“That is 100% correct,” Garrett confirmed. “From everyone that I spoke to there, everything was mutual and they were happy to have me, I was happy to be there, and I was going to be their guy. No questions asked.”

It was the league’s medical official that put an end to Hartley joining the Dragons.

“I was told that the risk of the unknown from my surgery was why they would not clear me,” Hartley explained. “Since I have an artificial disc in my neck and not a fusion, there isn’t enough evidence for them to medically say that I would be cleared.”

“In the XFL, there’s no waivers to be signed, since there’s not a collective bargaining agreement, and all the decisions go to the XFL, and not the individual teams like it would be in the NFL,” Hartley explained.

What this really means to Hartley is not only is he restricted from playing for the Dragons, he is restricted from playing for any XFL team.

To top that off, there isn’t any way to reverse the decision, because, as Hartley pointed out, the XFL doesn’t have an appeal process in place.

“Unfortunately, they don’t have anything in place set up as far as appeals goes,” Hartley said. Still, he remains optimistic that the decision is not final.

“There are some potential meetings that might take place early next week that will definitely bring me back up in the conversation,” he said.

Not to mention that Hartley feels strongly that his artificial disc should not be considered to be a liability.

“The frustrating thing for me was the fact that I never had any surgeon other than a primary care doctor overlook, or look at me physically in person to see how strong I am.”

“Knowing that the artificial disc is the future of fusions, anyway. I have more mobility, it’s longer lasting. You know, we have professional athletes across the world that have these in, just none of them happen to be a football player. They’re professional soccer players. There is military active personnel with an artificial disc in their cervical neck. Unfortunately, like I said, they wouldn’t give me the green light.”

Hartley confirmed that he never saw any surgeon or orthopedic specialist while he was in Seattle.

“They were going off some assumptions from their own research of the disc,” he said.  “I know that they had spoken to my surgeon, which operated on Peyton Manning as well as other high priority athletes that obviously came back to play, even though he had a different procedure than me.”

“Having that reassurance through a top ranked doctor is all the assurance that I need as a player, in the confidence, knowing if he feels it’s safe, that obviously I believe that it will be (safe) for me to be on the field.”

Hartley retains hope that this decision will be overturned and he will be allowed to play football for the XFL.

We can’t disagree. After all, it would be great to see him kick another game winning field goal, such as the one that allowed the Saints to play in Super Bowl XLIV.

You can hear more of the interview with Garrett Hartley in this Sunday’s XFL Xtra Podcast. 

XFL LA Wildcats trade Luis Perez to the New York Guardians

Three months after being assigned to the Los Angeles Wildcats as their Tier 1 quarterback, Luis Perez was traded to the New York Guardians for quarterback Charles Kanoff.

After the Los Angeles Wildcats acquired veteran quarterback Josh Johnson, it has become rumored that Perez was not in the running for the starting quarterback job.

Head Coach and General Manager Winston Moss said of the Perez trade:

“We respect Luis. He is a first-class person and a first-class player. We felt as though the development of Josh Johnson and Jalan McClendon would give us the best chance to have success this season.”

Charles Kanoff played college football at Princeton. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, and also spent time on the  practice squads of the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before signing with the Guardians on January 5, 2019. He only spent two weeks with the Guardians before being moved to the Wildcats.

The New York Guardians have not indicated how Perez will figure into their quarterback depth chart.