Analyzing the New York Guardians 2020 XFL Schedule

NY Guardians Schedule

When it comes to secondary football leagues, the prevailing thought process by some is that big markets and big venues should be avoided at all costs. The idea is that a pro football league should go into places that do not have any pro football teams. Despite the fact that there is no Pro or College Football taking place in the spring whatsoever, people tend to hang on to this narrative. As if a team playing football during March in Dallas is somehow competing with the Cowboys.

There is another thought process that says that northeast teams should be avoided as well, in the months of February and March, because of weather concerns. The New York Guardians check off all these boxes. Biggest market, large venue and winter weather.  The original XFL’s top two drawing teams in attendance and ratings were New York and San Francisco… two NFL cities. The current XFL has 8 of the top 21 TV markets in their league. Two of the top five drawing teams in the NFL are the Jets and Giants. While a lot of that has to do with the resale market for tickets, it might shock some that a team like the Jets,  that has been out of the playoff mix for almost a decade, is ranked second in attendance behind only Dallas. The Jets were second last year in attendance as well. The Tri-State area loves football, but earning it’s respect and admiration is no simple task. The NY/NJ market is the kind of place where people will give you a bouquet of flowers, with a note attached that says “You better be worth it.”

Being in a big market is not just about attendance and ratings. It’s about partnerships, sponsorships and business opportunities. Why does someone rob a bank?…. because that’s where all the money is. Is it any surprise that the New York Guardians are scheduled to have 8 of their 10 regular season games on network television. Eight games split up on ABC and Fox with ESPN and FS1 tentatively scheduled to air a game a piece. When it’s all said and done. 9 of their ten games may end up airing on broadcast television.

Let’s take an in-depth weekly look at the New York Guardians regular season schedule.

Week 1- The Guardians open their season at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon February 9th on Fox, 2pm eastern against the Tampa Bay Vipers. New York starts and finishes their season with three straight division opponents. New York and Tampa start and end their regular seasons against one another. On paper, this matchup features two of the league’s most experienced signal callers in Matt McGloin and Aaron Murray. That could change by opening day, but it’s an advantage both teams have, in terms of quality of play right out the gate. The weather for this one could be tricky. A 2pm start time helps, but all bets are off this time of the year. The Guardians experienced and accomplished coaching staff led by Kevin Gilbride, knows this venue and the elements attached to it like the back of their hands. Marc Trestman, despite leading a Florida team this go around, is no stranger to coaching in winter weather, having won multiple championships up north in Canada.

Week 2- The Guardians travel to the Nation’s capital to play the Defenders, in what could be the league’s best overall venue and atmosphere in Audi Field. This game will take place six days after the opener, and is another 2pm game, this time on ABC. The Defenders boast one of the league’s best rosters, led by Cardale Jones at quarterback. Weather could also play a factor in this game as well.

Week 3- Pro Football returns to St. Louis, as the Guardians face off with the BattleHawks on Sunday February 23rd, 3pm on ESPN. New York should have a good idea of where they stand after this game. This can be a very difficult place to play, especially if the BattleHawks come in flying high with a 2 and 0 start. It should be an emotional scene regardless, and it wouldn’t shock me if some old STL greats end up being a part of the ceremonies for the BattleHawks opener.  New York will be playing the spoiler role and attempt to ruin the homecoming  party.

Week 4- This starts a stretch of four straight non-divisional games. New York is back home, playing LA at 2pm eastern on ABC. This is the lone game on their schedule, where the Wildcats play at 11am pacific time on the road. LA Defensive Coordinator Pepper Johnson returns home, where he starred for the Giants and Jets many moons ago. This game features the countries two biggest markets in LA and New York.

Week 5- New York travels to Dallas, to take on what will be argued as the prohibitive favorite in the entire league, with Bob Stoops, Hal Mumme and the Renegades. The game will air on Fox at 5pm. By week five, the teams in the league should be hitting their stride, a scary thought if you are facing Dallas. Yes this is Bob Stoops first rodeo as a pro football coach, but his track record speaks for itself, and once he gets his feet wet, there could be some serious hell raising going on in Big D. Tough spot for the Guardians.

Week 6- New York is back home, playing their third straight Saturday game, this time against The Houston Roughnecks on ABC. Kevin Gilbride and June Jones have an interesting history between one another. Crossing paths on more than one  occasion. Both coaches spent time in Houston coordinating the Run and Shoot offense for The Oilers. Gilbride has always run a variation of that offense. Oddly enough, Gilbride replaced a departing June in Houston, and then years later, Gilbride was fired mid season as the Chargers Head Coach, only to be replaced by Jones. This will make for an interesting reunion when both coaches cross paths once again.

Week 7- The Guardians travel to CenturyLink Field to face the Dragons, in what will be their final non divisional regular season game. The game will air on Sunday 3pm on ABC. If Seattle is in strong contention by this point. This could be one of the toughest places to play in the entire league.

Week 8- Here’s where the playoff push starts for every team in the league. For three straight weeks, every team in the XFL will finish their seasons with three straight divisional games.  With two teams making the playoffs in each division. The final three weeks will decide who gets in and who doesn’t. Barring an 0 and 7 or 1 and 6 start. Teams with 3 and 4 or even 2 and 5 records will still be alive in the playoff hunt. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that a 5 and 5 team could make the playoffs. Two teams in the original XFL did exactly just that, in the Demons and Enforcers, who both finished their seasons at 5 and 5. New York kicks off this crucial stretch at home against St. Louis. This game will air on Fox.

Week 9- The regular season home finale for The Guardians. This time with DC traveling to MetLife Stadium, for a Saturday 2pm game on ABC. This will be either both teams fighting for their playoff lives or potentially a game that could ultimately decide the division in the end.

Week 10- The final week of the regular season lands with The Guardians in Tampa.  It also lands on Easter Sunday. The game is tentatively scheduled for a 6pm Sunday starting time on FS1. However, both Disney and Fox have an asterisk attached to this game, and the other divisional matchup between STL and DC. The latter is scheduled for a 3pm start on ABC but both games may flip positions and channels prior to week ten taking place. The date set for that decision is March 10th.

Final Thoughts/Notes

The biggest surprise on the schedule is that New York is playing at home in Week 1. Some experts expected New York to have a back loaded home schedule for weather purposes. The Guardians won’t be kicking off the league on Saturday, but the concern has always been of not leaving a good first impression. Not so much in terms of the end result, but more so when it pertains to the quality of play. Weather can play a factor in the style of game presented in week one. If the goal for the league is to have a high scoring, wide open and fast paced game, Mother Nature might have a say in that. The Guardians would love to make a good first impression, something that unfortunately the original XFL New York team was unable to do. In that case, nearly 19 years ago, weather wasn’t an issue in the opener, it was the quality of the team and how ill prepared the league was right out the gate. The Guardians are on the big stage all season, but not under the big lights. The latest start time for any of their home games is 5pm in late March against St. Louis. The Guardians didn’t get the primetime network  nods on Fox that Dallas did in back to back weeks late in the season.  The league and the teams will all be under pressure to produce a quality product right out the gate. However, New York may have the most pressure to get off to a good start. While some markets will have some leeway in the early going, the Tri-State area can be pretty rough on a team, if it’s not up to snuff. Especially a new team in a new league.

New York Guardians Draft Recap

The XFL’s one-of-a-kind football league draft has officially ended, with 8 teams drafting 70 players, and one signed quarterback being added to each of their rosters.

The teams themselves all adopted their identities nearly two months ago, with logos, names and colors, but it was actually the last two days of drafting players, where the teams true football identities were formed.

For the New York Guardians Head Coach/GM Kevin Gilbride, his coaching staff and the front office, the two days of drafting on Tuesday and Wednesday brought an infusion of talent they hope can accomplish their vision of the type of team they want on the field.

Let’s take an in-depth look at The New York Guardians football team, and the draft which formed it. Before we recap all five phases of their draft. The first step taken in initially setting the tone for the franchise was the assignment of it’s projected starting signal caller.

Quarterback Assignment – QB Matt McGloin, Penn State/Raiders/Eagles/Texans/Chiefs

Matt McGloin (Wikipedia)

McGloin will be 30 when the XFL season starts in February. He gives the Guardians a steady veteran hand to lead the newly formed team right out the gate. If anyone fits the mold of a player playing in, what amounts to some, as a league for underdogs, it’s Matt McGloin. He knows how to battle and fight from underneath. McGloin knows what it’s like when no one thinks you are worthy enough of being on the field. He was a walk on who started out as a third string QB for the Nittany Lions, but through grit and determination, and some adversity along the way, McGloin ended up winning over his teammates and the university. In 2012, McGloin won the Burlsworth Trophy, an award and honor given annually to the most outstanding FBS college football player who started out their career as a walk on. McGloin ended his playing days at Penn State with 46 touchdowns, which is ranked 2nd in school history.

McGloin’s path into professional football went the same way it started for him in college. McGloin was an undrafted backup quarterback for the Raiders, the pro football equivalent of being a walk on. McGloin started out as a third stringer, only to somehow find his way onto the field in his rookie season. He ended up winning over the Raiders fan base and his teammates with the same grit he showed at Penn State. The team was in turmoil and transition but McGloin led them to victory, throwing three touchdowns in his first ever start. He battled all the way through his rookie season, throwing for the 2nd most yards per game by an undrafted rookie in NFL history. Before year two for him began, McGloin was back to being a third stringer, a role he would mostly hold for the rest of his time in the NFL. It wasn’t always pretty but whenever he was called into action. McGloin held his own. He was never cast as the lead actor but always seemed to play his part well when called upon.

Kevin Gilbride’s offense will be a mix of his own experience and philosophies, and that of his assistants, GA Mangus (QB’s) and Mike Miller (WR’s). Gilbride will be his own offensive coordinator and will initially call the plays. Gilbride has run and shoot roots, but his offenses over the years have been a mix of spreading teams out and playing in power run heavy sets. McGloin has the ability to adapt on the fly and improvise if need be, but he can also stay within a game plan if called upon. It’s why teams trusted him to come out of the bullpen in the NFL. McGloin always seemed to operate his best when things broke down around him, which unfortunately was often. McGloin’s teammates in the draft will help dictate the style of offense that he operates within. Every one of the 70 players drafted have varying levels of experience in the NFL.

PHASE 1 (SKILL PLAYERS)

RD1. DeAngelo Yancey, WR, Purdue (3)
RD2. Mekale McKay, WR, Cincinnati (14)
RD3. Tanner Gentry, WR, Wyoming (19)
RD4. Tim Cook, RB, Oregon State (30)
RD5. Demarcus Ayers, WR, Houston (35)
RD6. EJ Bibbs, TE, Iowa State (46)
RD7. Keith Towbridge, TE, Louisville (51)
RD8. Justin Stockton, RB, Texas Tech (62)
RD9. Darius Victor, RB, Towson (67)
RD10. Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina (78)

The Guardians strategy for their offensive skill players was a unique one, and fit with Kevin Gilbride’s hybrid offensive style. New York attacked the WR position early, picking 4 WR’s in their first 5 selections, just in case you thought Gilbride was going back to his old run and shoot days. The second half of the draft was focused mostly on the ground game, and a two tight end set with Bibbs and Towbridge. Gilbride even added a big strong armed mobile QB in Marquise Williams, who can be an asset during games if needed, in specific short yardage or conversion situations. Williams is talented enough to lead the entire offense if need be.

This is going to be a versatile offense that shifts personality in game. The three backs, Tim Cook, Justin Stockton and Darius Victor are all different style runners. Cook is a powerful no nonsense inside runner. Stockton has playmaking ability in the run and pass game. Victor is a shifty back who can make people miss. This backfield harkens back to Gilbride’s championship offenses in New York that featured a commitee backfield with the likes of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. That backfield’s position coach was Jerald Ingram, who is now back with Gilbride with the Guardians.

Mekale McKay is a big 6’4 target who can win in the red zone. Very similar to what Plaxico Burress was for Gilbride. It’s hard not to see hints of the Giants offense here with the types of players selected. Gentry is an ideal slot receiver who can also work on the oustide. DeAngelo Yancey can be the centerpiece of this passing game. He has always had the physical tools. He’s going to get a real shot to be the featured receiver in this offense, but I expect a lot of different players to be utilized. It’s going to be a multiple style offense.

PHASE 2 (OFFENSIVE LINEMAN)

RD1. Jarron Jones, T, Notre Dame (6)
RD2. Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Alabama (11)
RD3. Parker Collins, C, Appalachian State (22)
RD4. Anthony Coyle, G, Fordham (27)
RD5. Zac Kerin, G, Toledo (38)
RD6. Brian Fineanganofo, T, Idaho State (43)
RD7. John Kling, T, Buffalo (54)
RD8. Ian Silberman, G, Boston College (59)
RD9. Nate Theaker, T, Wayne State (70)
RD10. Arie Kouandjio, G, Alabama (75)

When your team is named The Guardians. You better have good protectors up front. This is a textbook, by the numbers, drafting of a potential starting offensive line, from one through five. A left tackle in Jarron Jones. right tackle Cyrus Kouandijo, the center Parker Collins, and the two guards Coyle and Kerin on the interior at guard. Jones is a former college defensive lineman who has converted to the offensive line since becoming a pro in 2017. He has freakishly long arms (35 1/2 inches) and is a mauler when he gets his hands on you. It’s not uncommon for players to transition successfully from the defensive line to the offensive line, and former Jets All Pro Brandon Moore comes to mind. Where the Guardians really did well was drafting lineman six through ten. Kling and Silberman really stand out as quality lineman who can be starters. Brian Fineanganofo is an undrated Tackle from Idaho State, who tested off the charts. He was with the Browns this past summer. It’s a great story that Arie Kouandjio is joining his brother on this team. The “Bama” brothers have had rocky careers since turning pro, but they have never been lacking for talent. Being on the same team may be great for the both of them.

PHASE 3 (DEFENSIVE FRONT 7)

RD1. Ben Heeney, LB, Kansas (7)
RD2. Joey Mbu, DT, Houston (10)
RD3. Austin Larkin, DE, Purdue (23)
RD4. TJ Barnes, DT, Georgia Tech (26)
RD5. Nick DeLuca, LB, North Dakota State (39)
RD6. D’Juan Hines, LB, Houston (42)
RD7. Jarrell Owens, DE, Oklahoma State (55)
RD8. Cavon Walker, DT, Maryland (58)
RD9. Garrison Smith, DT, Georgia (71)
RD10. Rykeem Yates, DE, Nevada (74)

No surprise here that a Jim Herrmann coordinated defense would draft a linebacker first. After all, he played inside linebacker for legendary coach Bo Schembechler’s Michigan Wolverines. Herrmann would go on to be the defensive coordinator of his alma-mater, winning a national championship in 1997, and receiving the Frank Broyles award as the top asssistant coach in the nation. He’s coached linebackers his whole career, including stints in New York with the Jets and winning a SuperBowl with the Giants. Ben Heeney fits the bill of getting the nod as the quarterback of the defense. The issue with Heeney has always been his ability to stay healthy. The Guardians went heavy on the defensive line, literally and figuratively, drafting 7 lineman including experienced space eaters in TJ Barnes and Joey Mbu early. D’Juan Hines at linebacker could be the steal of this group. He’s very athletic and extremely intelligent. A four-time Academic All American at Houston, Hines originally started out as a QB and WR before transitioning to safety and then settling in at linebacker. He was a late bloomer in college, was All-AAC. Hines has been on 3 different NFL teams in the last year. He was cut by the Chiefs last month at cutdown day. There is untapped potential here and a lot of talent in this player. Hines could be emerge as one of the better 3-down backers in the league.

PHASE 4 (DEFENSIVE BACKS)

RD1. Jamar Summers, CB, UConn (2)
RD2. Lorenzo Doss, CB, Tulane (15)
RD3. David Rivers, CB, Youngstown State (18)
RD4. Dravon Askew-Henry, S, West Virginia (31)
RD5. Demetrious Cox, S, Michigan State (34)
RD6. Andrew Soroh, S, FAU (47)
RD7. Jeremiah McKinnon, CB, FAU (50)
RD8. Terrence Alexander, CB, LSU (63)
RD9. Nydair Rouse, CB, West Chester (66)
RD10. Ranthony Texada, CB, TCU (79)

New York drafted 7 corners in this phase. You could argue that the best draft pick New York had in their entire draft was Jamar Summers, as he was one of the top cover corners in the AAF earlier this year. He surprisingly missed the cut in the NFL,  despite being ranked so highly by Pro Football Focus. Summers will be an NFL corner in 2020 if he plays as well or better in the XFL’s wide open passing league. New York then followed up the Summers pick nicely with a true ballhawk in Lorenzo Doss. This corner tandem should be one of the league’s better ones. Much like how New York did at WR in the skill draft. The team drafted 3 straight corners each with distinctive roles. David Rivers is a small school player with big talent. He could very well play inside, or outside, and move Doss into the nickel position.

PHASE 5 OPEN DRAFT

QB- Garrett Fugate, Central Missouri State
RB- Matthew Colburn, Wake Forest
FB- Tommy Bohanon, Wake Forest
RB- Lawrence Pittman, Wingate
WR- J-Shun Harris, Indiana
WR- Quadree Henderson, Pittsburgh
WR- Colby Pearson, BYU
WR- Justice Liggins, Stephen F. Austin
WR- Octayvius Miles, Alabama A & M
WR- Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
TE- Jake Powell, Monmouth
TE- Jake Sutherland, Morehead State
C- Garrett Brumfield, Louisiana State
OT- Thomas Doles, Northwestern
OT- Adrian Bellard, Texas State
DT- Toby Johnson, Georgia
DT- Bunmi Rotini, Old Dominion
DE- Victor Ochi, Stony Brook
DE- Malik Harris, Incarnate Word
DE- George Johnson, Rutgers
DE- Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
LB- Darnell Leslie, Monmouth
LB- Frank Ginda, San Jose State
LB- Robert McCray, Indiana
LB- Jawuan Johnson, TCU
CB- Dejuan Neal, Shepherd
S- Max Lyons, SE Louisiana
S- Wes Sutton, Northern Arizona
LS- Scott Daly, Notre Dame

In theory, this group is supposed to fill out the bottom end of a roster, players 41 through 71 in camp. The Guardians drafted 30 players in this phase, 15 on offense, 14 on defense, and a quality long snapper in Notre Dame’s Scott Daly. The issue for this brief moment in time is that Daly has no one to snap the ball to. Even if The Guardians plan on reimagining 4th down and never punting or kicking field goal, they still need to kick the ball off. Looks like New York took advantage of the openness of this phase of the draft. There were no rules in place for specific position drafting in this portion of the draft. So New York decided to load up on as many offensive and defensive players as they wanted. Mini-camp does not begin until December, so technical New York doesn’t have to add a kicker or punter till then. The league is expected to have a supplemental draft before mini-camps begin, so it will all resolve itself.

As for the non-kickers in this group. Two of the better open draft players selected in the entire league were Fullback Tommy Bohanon and WR/KR Quadree Henderson. The position of fullback has been deemphasized somewhat in the pro and college game, but the few teams that do utlize it well, benefit. Bohanon is one of the better fullbacks out there and he was last seen prominently paving the way for Leonard Fournette during his great rookie season. Henderson is a game breaker and a useful gadget player that could be an X-factor in the league’s new proposed kickoff.

Conclusion

A lot can change on this roster between now and the start of The XFL season on February 8th, when the games air every week on ABC, Fox and ESPN.

These types of leagues are supported by fans, scouts and coaches for one single reason… the players. It’s the sole reason to start a pro football league to begin with.

The New York Guardians were a team in name only prior to this draft. The players have finally arrived. They are now officially a real football team.

Introducing the New York Guardians

YouTube video

 

The XFL has named their New York franchise, the New York Guardians.

“Sentries carved of stone. Watchdogs over the metropolis. A prehistoric predator. A beast evolves, turned loose in a new kind of jungle. All teeth and talons, eyes unblinking. They know fear, because they feed off it. They are your first line of defense, and there is no need for a second. The New York Guardians. On duty. February 2020.”

Under head coach Kevin Gilbride, the team will begin play in MetLife Stadium in February 2020.

New York XFL Summer Showcase Recap

Originally unwanted and undrafted by the NFL, Sam Mills became a star in the USFL and eventually became a star in the NFL from 1986 to 1997,

Since last year, there have been several steps taken to set the XFL on course for 2020. From the financial commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars, to the brilliant hire of Oliver Luck, to all the credible coaching and front office hires, to the league’s breakthrough TV deal with ABC, Fox and ESPN, but it wasn’t until these player showcases began, that the XFL starting feeling like a real football league. The league is being built brick by brick. That’s the feeling I got as I was standing on the sidelines of Sprague Field, at Montclair State University. There are still some kinks to iron out, and it’s not quite the well-oiled machine, that it can become, but the foundation has been set up very nicely so far.

As I was watching the players and coaches work together, through several different drills. It was hard not to notice, a huge banner facing the end zone, honoring perhaps Montclair State’s greatest football alum, the late great Sam Mills. It’s rather fitting that on a day, where talented players, who are NFL caliber, but for varying reasons haven’t made it, that the epitome of that type of player would be hovering over the field, in name and in spirit. Sam Mills was a 5’9″ linebacker from Montclair State who ended up becoming a five-time pro bowler in the NFL, had his number retired by the Carolina Panthers, and is in the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame. Where he ended up was legendary, but the journey is what made him a legend. No major colleges wanted him because of his size. He went undrafted, signed by the Cleveland Browns, and then cut. Off to the CFL, then cut again. Sam Mills ends up trying out for the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL. The rest is history. He ends up not only making the team, but winning two championships and becoming one of the greatest players in the history of the United States Football League.  If not for the USFL, a great player like Sam Mills, may have never become a legend and inspiration, for so many players that followed, and the many who played with and against him. The USFL may not have lasted, but it helped the game of football and its players.  Leagues like this are made for the greater good of football. It’s the thing that XFL CEO Oliver Luck reiterated yet again on Friday, how he is most excited about the fact that the XFL will produce 1,000 football jobs for players, coaches, referees and others.

It was an extremely eventful day in Montclair. There’s so much to digest and go over. A big thanks to Stephanie Rudnick, Lou D’Ermilio, Scott Parker,  Brentan Debysingh, and some many others associated with the XFL, for being so hospitable and friendly. The league rolled out the red carpet for not only the players, but the fans and media members as well. Thanks for letting me annoy Oliver Luck and others with so many questions. It was also a pleasure to meet up with other media members. I had a chance to go down memory lane with longtime sports reporter and broadcaster Peter Schwartz. Peter called XFL games for NY/NJ back in 2001, while I covered the team. We both shared in the differences between the XFL, that was and the XFL that is being realized today. As we watched the great athletes on the field.  Schwartz pointed out the stark differences between what the XFL looks like now, and what it was. He brought up a funny story, about an unnamed Hitmen offensive lineman, that was near death and severely out of shape, in halftime of game one on NBC.  Oh by the way… Darren Rovell is a good guy, and thanks to his 6.41 sec 40 yard dash, I won a side bet. I took the 6.0 over.

It was also great meeting up with other members of the XFL community. Like Alan from the ‘This is The XFL Show’ podcast. The show itself has become a huge hit in XFL circles. So much so that, people in the league office listen to the show at home, while watching their kids. The community is very important. It’s one of the things that really hurt so much about the demise of the AAF, the USFL, and the original XFL. Fans get attached and take real ownership of these types of leagues. They become so deeply invested in it, and end up living and dying with these leagues, similar to how a fan would with his favorite sports team.

There are several different items to go over, from Friday’s Showcase. Let’s start with the players;

There were several standouts on Friday. The league’s football operations department has their work cut out for them, deciding which of these players to sign to XFL contracts. One thing’s for certain, in my view, Hakeem Nicks is going to be a premium player in the XFL Draft come October. That’s if he doesn’t sign on with an NFL team. He showed that, he could still be playing in the NFL. Injuries forced him out, and once a veteran is slotted as a #4 or #5 WR, if he doesn’t bring value on specials. He doesn’t make the team.  I must admit, that I was skeptical when I saw his name on the list of Showcase participants. It’s been a few years since he stepped on a football field, and a few before that, where he produced at a high level. Through no fault of his own. Hakeem was an elite and clutch receiver, when he was healthy. He’s always had a tremendous catch radius and great body control in the air. That was on display on Friday. He looked like a new man. Hakeem was smiling from ear to ear, he was genuinely happy to be on the field working out. He ran all the drills. Hakeem didn’t play the veteran card, and just skip certain drills. He decided to go all in. Where Nicks really shined, was in 1 on 1 drills. It was an overcast day with plenty of wind, and Nicks made some highlight receptions on throws that were off the mark because of it.

While the QB group didn’t have great cache to them. They all performed fairly well. Chattanooga’s Alejandro Bennefield made some great throws. Alek Torgersen looked great.

Joe Callahan also really stood out. The former Division III superstar, who won the Gagliardi trophy at Wesley college, which is the equivalent of the Heisman trophy at that level, Callahan showed great accuracy and ability to throw on the run. He made some big time throws in small windows. It was a very good showing for him.

The best action came in 1 on 1 drills. Several standouts during these sessions. On the receiving side, it was  former AAF star Mekale McKay, Texas Tech receiver De’Quan Bowman, Stony Brook Tight End Connor Davis, Temple Tight End Colin Thompson, amongst others. As far as defensive backs, the speedster Kendall James from Maine looked very good, as did DB’s Max Redfield, Titus Howard and Dante Redwood. In the trenches, some players who stood out were offensive lineman Kirk Barron from Purdue and Andrew Tiller from Syracuse. On the defensive line, Kristjan Sokoli, the former Seahawks draft pick, looked very good coming off an ACL tear, that cost him the 2018 season. You have quite a few players like Sokoli, who are on a mission to salvage their careers.

Andre Williams had a really good showing for himself. The former Doak Walker and Jim Brown award winner, was similar to Hakeem Nicks. He’s been out of the NFL for a couple of years, and had a little extra pep in his step. Missing in action was Dexter McCluster. He was originally advertised for the showcase, I received no official explanation for his absence.

Now let’s get to some news and info. I was able to get 1 on 1 time with XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck, on two separate occasions. and several other top figures within the league. On a side note, here’s hoping that the XFL’s chalk talk session makes it way to social media. It’s a great vehicle for the league to create awareness for what they are attempting to do, to enhance the awareness of the product. It’s sort of like XFL 101, for those who are not up on the league. A lot of what the league is doing, in terms of research and development, is still a work in progress, and will be completed at the Spring League by the end of July. Oliver Luck and Kevin Gilbride were very engaging during the day’s outdoor Chalk Talk session.

In reference to that, expect the league’s official game rules to be released in August. Some of the concepts are nearing the finish line. Specifically, the tiered point system after touchdowns, and the overtime aspect. On that note, one thing that Oliver Luck mentioned was that the league was actually discussing aspects of the tiered extra points, in relation to gambling. You could see how a game could be affected, in terms of the spread, and over/unders with 3-point conversions potentially in play.

On team names. It is a topic every fan wants to know, and that every media member dances around when talking with someone in the league. Everyone in the league is fully aware of how it is the most pressing issue for followers of the XFL. It sounds like team names will be coming in July, and the plan is to unveil them all at once. Nothing finalized yet, but there could be some type of press conference/media event to make the announcement.

I asked Oliver Luck about an official uniform outfitter for the league. There’s nothing close on that front yet. It’s important to note, that while team names and logos will come first. It might take some time for the actual uniforms to be released. The real need for uniforms, will come once the teams are formed and begin practicing. So that could be a hint of a timetable. The league has had preliminary talks with companies about the design for their helmets. Nothing has been finalized on that end either. The footballs that have been displayed thus far, are not the final versions. Most of the players had positive reviews about the prototypes, that have been used at the showcases.

On the back burner, for now, is team schedules. While the entire TV schedule has been released ahead of time. The actual team schedules may take some time to formulate. Depending on the schedule of the league’s 8 venues. Individual ticket sales would most likely coincide with the team schedule release. Also, the XFL also doesn’t anticipate any delays in the retrofitted Globe Life Park for XFL Dallas.

There are two team president hires left for Jeffrey Pollack, the league’s president and COO to make. Pollack has been playing catch up. He came on board with the XFL fairly recently.  He’s the lead on all of these hires. The St. Louis team president hire seems imminent and could be revealed this coming week. The Dallas hire may be the final one. Negotiations are still on-going. On a side note, I met with XFL NY Team President Janet Duch. She was very engaging and seems genuinely excited about the team’s prospects of finding an audience in New York. The original XFL fan in me, pointed out to her that the team that was second in the league in attendance back in 2001, was in fact New York with over 28,000 fans per game. I asked Janet, if the league was close on naming a training facility for XFL NY. She said that they are narrowing down the list to a few choices right now.

The league does plan on having exhibition games in January, as sort of a dress rehearsal for the season. These scrimmages will most likely not be available to the public. The purpose of them is to act as almost a dress rehearsal for the players, coaches, broadcasters and referees.

Just some housekeeping on some items, that most diehard XFL followers know. The eight teams will have 45 player rosters with 7 player practice squads. Team 9 will be formed prior to the start of the XFL season, and it will be a group of players under league contract, that train with a select group of coaches in Arlington Texas, and that stay prepared for when there are injuries or a need from the league’s eight teams. Player contracts will include base salary, pay during training camp, incentives in the form of victory bonuses, and full health benefits. The XFL will begin offering contracts to players in July.

All in all, it was a great experience. I am most excited for the players during this process. Who knows, maybe someday, one of these players will have their banner at the stadium of their alma mater, just like Sam Mills.

Kevin Gilbride rumored to be the first Head Coach of XFL New York

Kevin Gilbride rumored to be the first Head Coach of XFL New York

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.

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.

XFL New York Head Coach and President to be announced on Tuesday

The XFL will announce the New York team head Coach/General Manager and Team President on Tuesday, April 16th.

  • When: Tuesday April 16 at 12:00 PM ET
  • Where: Castell Rooftop at the AC Hotel Times Square

Of the eight XFL teams, the first four Head Coaches were announced in February and early March: Bob Stoops (Dallas) on 7 February, Pep Hamilton (Washington) on 21 February, Jim Zorn (Seattle) on 25 February, and Marc Trestman (Tampa Bay) on 5 March.  Afterward, there has been a long pause before any new Head Coaches have been announced, which has left XFL followers to wait patiently for news. On 16 April, they will have the type of news they were waiting for.

Prior to the past Head Coach announcements, there were strong rumors indicating the candidate. So far, there are no strong rumors as to who the candidate may be.

The XFL has also previously announced Team Presidents: Heather Brooks Karatz (Los Angeles) on 21 March, Ryan Gustafson (Seattle) on 26 March, and Erik A. Moses (Washington) on 29 March. Next Tuesday’s announcement will mark the occasion of the fourth team President to join the XFL organization.

XFL Announces Eight Inaugural Home Cities

XFL Announces Eight Inaugural Home Cities
XFL Announces Eight Inaugural Home Cities

The XFL today announced the eight cities and venues its teams will call home when the league launches the weekend of February 8-9, 2020.

  • Dallas – Globe Life Park
  • Houston – TDECU Stadium
  • Los Angeles – StubHub Center
  • New York – MetLife Stadium
  • St. Louis – The Dome at America’s Center
  • Seattle – CenturyLink Field
  • Tampa Bay – Raymond James Stadium
  • Washington, DC – Audi Field

The announcement was made today by XFL Commissioner & CEO Oliver Luck at a press conference held at MetLife Stadium, which included representatives from all eight markets.

“After months of research and consideration, we’re thrilled to announce the cities and venues of the XFL’s eight inaugural teams,” said Luck. “We are committed to being ingrained in the local community and extremely fortunate that our teams will have world-class facilities to call home.”

Beginning today, fans can go to XFL.com to reserve their season tickets, which will provide them with early access to select their seats and purchase season tickets before the general public.

The new XFL will deliver a fan-centric, innovative experience, including fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment, complemented by cross-platform viewing options and real-time fan engagement.

About the XFL

The new XFL will reimagine football for the 21st century when the league kicks off the weekend of February 8-9, 2020.

Football is America’s favorite sport boasting over 85 million fans but the traditional season is just too short. Seeing a tremendous opportunity to fill the void, Vince McMahon, XFL Founder and Chairman announced on January 25, 2018, the launch of a new league, which he is personally funding. McMahon is building the XFL with the same commitment and resolve that he has demonstrated building WWE into a global media and sports entertainment powerhouse.

Delivering authentic, high energy football for the whole family at an affordable price, the XFL will offer fast-paced games with fewer play stoppages and simpler rules. The league will launch with eight teams, 45-man active rosters, and a 10-week regular season schedule, with a postseason consisting of two semifinal playoff games and a championship game. The XFL will also establish a health, wellness and safety program that meets the needs of today’s athletes.

The XFL will embrace the latest on and off-field technology, providing live game coverage, content and real-time engagement across multiple platforms, giving fans greater access than ever before. We will build strong grassroots relationships with local organizations in our Host Cities through social responsibility partnerships, and the XFL will enjoy the support of WWE’s many extraordinary resources and promotional capabilities.

For more information, please log on to XFL.com and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Media Contact: Stephanie Rudnick – XFL Stephanie.rudnick@xfl.com