For players, the XFL makes opportunities happen
Good things may come to those who wait, truly the mindset of these players.
Underlying in the XFL, is a football league bred and built on helping the underdog succeed. Whether a player went to a small school, did not receive playtime, or maybe were always overlooked.
The XFL is also known as a second chance league, for players who did not have a great NFL chance their first go around. The XFL is where they can make a legacy or build off it.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Dany Garcia are two people who truly embody these ideologies. The Rock has a super inspirational story. After his college football days were done at Miami University he traveled to a CFL tryout with the little money he had. Surviving with just a few dollars to his name, he never gave up, and turned to wrestling to become one of the world’s biggest stars. The Rock proved that the sky is truly the limit, if you fight hard and believe you have what it takes. When it comes to football, the XFL has become the platform for just that mindset to flourish.
No matter your walk of life or your backstory, that should not have a burden on your future XFL career. The Rock says it himself that this league is for the love of players, the love of the game, and the love of the fans. The XFL in 2020 had many stories, such as the Los Angeles Wildcats linebacker Jeremiah Spicer’s inspiring story to never give up, as well as guys like Luis Perez who never played organized football until JUCO, where he was a seventh string quarterback all the way to him being one of the most garnered players in the history of Division II football.
More recently, CFL quarterback Cody Fajardo resigned to the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders after stating he was not ready to hold an NFL clipboard for a living. While Fajardo has no correlation with the XFL, this something that embodies the league. Let’s just view it from a quarterback standpoint to start.
Not a lot of teams in the NFL like giving chances to players who have had a rough time in the league, specifically the quarterback position, unless you may have been a former first-round draft pick. A quarterback example would be DeShone Kizer who is signed to the Green Bay Packers, while his career stats are horrible. He led the Cleveland Browns to an 0-16 season while leading the league in interceptions with 22 and throwing just 11 touchdowns, Kizer would throw two more interceptions the next season giving him an 11 touchdown to 24 interception ratio, which is not good any way that you choose to perceive it.
There are XFL free agents who are much better than that. It may be a lack of scouting, or could be because of either a small school or a mid-major school. Luis Perez of the New York Guardians is just one of the few quarterbacks who had the chance to show what he had.
Perez went to a Division II school, Texas A&M Commerce, and led his team its first national championship in almost two full decades. He would then go on to win the most prestigious award in Division II football, the Harlon Hill Award, which is essentially the Division II Heisman Trophy. Sure, after college, Perez did receive an opportunity with the Los Angeles Rams, but he did not see any regular-season action before being cut. His journey led him to the AAF, then to the XFL after that. Perez’s stats may not wow you in any way, but you can see he is precise with the ball. Over the course of his three games as the Guardians signal-caller, he threw for three touchdowns to one interception for 418 yards on 62 attempts, completing 38 of those.
Another overlooked player is Brandon Silvers. The Troy University product played for the Seattle Dragons, and put up good numbers. He started four of the five games and threw for 638 yards for six touchdowns to four interceptions on 52 completions on 102 passes. The only thing that he is not great at is the completion percentage, that’s really it. A lot of people like to say Silvers is not very good, and that statement is pretty fallible. The numbers talk do the talking. Also, under pressure Silvers thrives, during his time in college, he walked into “Death Valley” at Louisiana State University and won the game with the Troy Trojans.
There are inferior quarterbacks who get a lot more respect than Silvers, one of which is Cardale Jones of the DC Defenders who threw just four touchdowns to seven interceptions, four of those interceptions came in one game, where he also did not throw a touchdown. Cardale Jones went to a big school, Ohio State so more people know his name… more than players like Perez or Silvers.
Good things come to those who wait
The majority of XFL players have been either waiting for a chance to play, or waiting on the bench or practice squad for an opportunity. These players are driven, motivated, and hungry, which makes for good football for both players and fans.
Players should not have to wait years for an opportunity if they deserve it. With leagues like the CFL coming back, and the return of the XFL in 2022, it will be a joy to see football opportunities come back with a bang.
There are already early rumors of new players that may join XFL 3.0, and possibilities of familiar names that we saw in 2020. Good things may come to those who wait, truly the mindset of these players.