It has been a while since our last visit on The Week That Was. We have been going about a month between articles in this first offseason, but I did take two this time for a late summer break here in Texas. We had a lot of items to cover including: the first ever XFL Draft and assigned QBs, minicamp and training camp dates, TV broadcast teams announced, supplemental draft and the new XFL game ball.
First Ever XFL Draft
After a fairly slow September October kicked things off with a bang on the 15th and 16th having the inaugural XFL Draft. The draft consisted of each team drafting a total of 70 players, from a pool of around 1,000. However, the drafting was unique as it used a snake format and five phases of position groups. Thus, the draft order alternated the first and last pick for each phase. The five phases were: skill players, offensive line, defensive front seven, defensive backfield and then an open selection phase for all remaining players, including special teams players.
Right before the draft each team was assigned a quarterback. As I mentioned before, in this inaugural year I really like this to try and get teams on more even footing at the games most critical position. These 71 players will be whittled down to a 52-man roster with 46 active per game day.
The assigned quarterbacks were as follows: DAL - Landry Jones, DC - Cardale Jones, HOU - Phillip Walker, LA - Luis Perz, NY - Matt McGloin, STL - Jordan Ta'amn, SEA - Brandon Silvers, TB - Aaron Murray. All are considered the presumptive starters but that doesn't mean there will not be competition. So, don't forget to keep an eye on the supposed backups as well in training camp.
It will be fun to watch the starting eight QB’s develop and play this year. The XFL is not a development league for the NFL but I can guarantee there will also be some more subtle competition among the starting eight to be the best in the league for other watching eyes. And hopefully all position groups can take pride in a little competition among themselves for league best. This is one of things I will be focusing on http://xflplus.com. So, be sure to hit the Standing/Leaders section of the site to keep up with the league wide stats battles.
TV Time and Schedule
Shortly after the draft had completed, we heard the announcement of the TV schedule and broadcast teams for ESPN and FOX. The schedule has all teams in their division playing each other home and away. And then they will play the four team in the other division for the total of six games. Then of course one playoff game between the two best in each division. Then the championship, which doesn’t have an official name yet.
ESPN's top team is scheduled to be Steve Levy, Dan Orlovsky and Pat McAfee. Fox's #1 team will be Curt Menefee and Joel Klatt. These are well known football and network names with some of the bigger stars coming up through the announcer ranks such as McAfee. The networks are really putting some weight behind the broadcasts. The XFL is also rumored to be willing to provide unprecedented access to the sideline reporters. So, it will be interesting to see new things they might come up with.
Minicamps and Training Camp
We also had the announcement that minicamps will begin on December 3rd in their respective cities, except for Los Angeles which will be in Las Vegas. Betting is rumored to be a big aspect of the XFL social interaction, and this Las Vegas minicamp was a way to help introduce the XFL to the big wigs of the gaming industry. The minicamps will run for 16 days.
Next up was the announcement of training camp locations. All eight teams will have training camp in the greater Houston, Texas area, but they will all have their own facilities for practice. This should be great for helping ensure the league and all teams are on the same page for this inaugural year as well as allowing the teams their privacy to practice their secrets. Training camp will run from January 4th through January 22nd. After this the teams will return to their respective cities to wrap up things for the February 8th opening day. These are the locations for each team:
Houston Roughnecks - TDECU Stadium
Dallas Renegades - Tully Stadium
DC Defenders - Rice Stadium
Los Angeles Wildcats - Durley Stadium
New York Guardians - Husky Stadium
St. Louis Battlehawks - Thorne Stadium
Seattle Dragons - Delmar Stadium
Tampa Bay Vipers - Turner Stadium
It didn’t gather quite as much news, but the Supplemental Draft was held on November 22nd. The league assigned three more quarterbacks and had a short draft for those players not eligible for the main draft. As I mentioned, there really wasn’t that much buzz about this in social media circles, but it was just another little step to help ensure all the bricks for this league’s foundation are getting firmly in place. Oliver Luck and company appear to be turning over every stone they can think of to help give this league a good chance of succeeding. It is going to be exciting seeing what other little things are done to help this league get started on the right foot and be successful.
The last thing to cover in this edition of The Week That Was was arguably the most exciting for XFL Fans; the uniform reveal. The natives had been getting restless for the team colors if watching Twitter is indication. And they finally came. By now you all have seen all the colors and designs so, I won’t go into all the details but will provide a few thoughts. I read quite a few rankings that our colleagues in the XFL world did and noticed a few things. There was not consensus on what the clear winner and most everyone liked almost all the unis in general. But a couple trends I noticed were most everyone had either Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Dallas in the top three of their rankings. See what I mean, even when a trend might be noticed it includes half the teams. I think this is a good indicator of how well the XFL did in designing these.
A lot of thought was put into the colors and the cites they are in. New York Guardians with the black and grey, like the gargoyles that guard the building there. Los Angeles Wildcats with orange and yellow like the tigers they are. Tampa Bay Vipers with green and yellow like the colors of the Florida everglades and the habitat of the snakes there. Dallas with the prominent color of blue like a lot of teams in Dallas, and people there resonate with that.
If I had to rank them the top three would be Dallas, Houston and New York. I love the blue and black of Dallas and the silver helmets of Houston. Then the black, white and red of New York with the gargoyle on the helmet looks great. DC is the only team that is basically just two colors and it may have been ranked in the bottom four most of the time that I saw, but I did see one ranking it first. So, yet another example of how good they league did on these colors and uniforms. There was no clear winner and no clear loser between the eight teams. Really good stuff brought out and the wait was worth it.
Now It Gets Real
Now, we look forward to training camp in January. The league has been burning the midnight oil getting ready for this season, but this is when the real football starts to take shape. I can’t wait to see what develops during those two weeks. Even with assigned quarterbacks there may still be some competition such as in Houston where some reports have the two QB’s very close in who will be the 1 or 2. Then we can dive into the running back and receiver and other position competitions.
This is starting to get real and there is only a little over a month until the games begin. It is coming fast and will be here before we know it. Even if the natives continue to get restless the first weekend will be over before we know it. So, don’t rush things too much. Let’s enjoy this build up to the first season. It will never come again.