The last of July and first of August were a bit slow for the XFL news we all crave. But the last couple weeks have thrown out a few fastballs. First, we got word the first of the Draft Invites are going out. Then we had our first official player signing. And the biggest news of all, team names and logos were released. Let’s jump right in.
What was described as the first wave of XFL invites went out earlier this month. As of this morning one hundred and thirty have been confirmed according to https://xflnewsroom.com and their Draft Tracker. As expected most, if not all invited so far participated in the XFL Summer Showcases. It has been really exciting watching all the replies from players invited and how grateful they are to get a chance. Of course, just being invited doesn’t mean you will get drafted. But the invite is a huge step for these players who have been grinding and trying for months and sometimes years to get even a small shot.
Like the Summer Showcases the draft will consist of around 800 or 900 players, we do not know if there is an exact number or a cutoff so to speak. The teams will each draft 70 players so it will still be only a little bit better than a 50 / 50 shot to get drafted. And there are no restrictions to these invites being limited to the Showcase players. As we know, one of the good things about the XFL is how fluid it can be. So, they are not limiting themselves in anything so far. After that the teams will only carry 45 players so, the journey for these players is far from over. But this is still a significant step for the league and the players.
First Player Signing
I think we all expected the draft invites to go out soon, but we were thrown another big news nugget when just this week Oliver Luck came out an announced the first player signing, Landry Jones. This was not just a draft invite but an official player signing that will be part of the Tier 1 players that are assigned to each team before the actual draft. This news, of a pre-draft group of players was simultaneously announced with the Landry signing. So that tells us a bit more on how this will work. It means there should be at least 7 more QBs signed before the draft. Oliver Luck mentioned 8 or 10 total, that will/might be allocated to the teams before the draft.
I believe this is a brilliant idea on player distribution, especially in this first year. The quality of the QB play will make or break the TV product and game quality. This ensures each team will have one of the leagues marquee quarterbacks (not withstanding injury of course) to help ensure more competitive games.
In conjunction with the news of the Landry Jones signing, Oliver Luck did an interview with Colin Cowherd on Fox Sports and added some other things about the draft and overall thoughts of how the league fits in. Along the lines of the QB, now more than ever some NFL guys can start 15 years. So there are a lot of good QBs out there every year that don't even get a chance to compete at the highest level. And even the better guys that hang around a few years really need to start playing and not sit on the practice squad more than a couple years. The XFL can take advantage of that. He wants to possibly have the other quarterbacks signed in 3 or 4 weeks. Which, as we have seen may indeed mean longer than that as they take their time and try to get things right.
Mr. Luck also touched on the high school thing where they could take good players right out of high school. I think there will be exactly none this first year. You don't want a big number, but you also don't want a small number like one or two this year as it would make it into too big of a deal in the media, and possibly too many controversial news pieces that we really don't need this first year. A 3rd year underclassmen, maybe. But when the league shows itself as a long-lasting good product it will become a viable option for more college freshman and sophomore down the road.
Bob Stoops in HOF
Among a few others, Bob Stoops was elected to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on August 12th. It is good to see the XFL’s first coach get this recognition. He left OU after the 2016 season with a record of 190-48 and a National Championship to his name.
I wonder or selfishly hope, if joining the XFL helped speed up this process. He only left OU two seasons ago, which is quick to get into a Hall of Fame. I wonder if he went to another NCAA team if they would have invited him this soon. He is such a great coach and apparently good guy in general that this would have happened as soon as possible anyway. I just like to think that the XFL helped it along and it got us some more positive press, so that is always good. Congratulation Mr. Stoops, well deserved. And I hope you (and the XFL itself) stick around long enough that we can add you to the XFL HOF someday. And speaking of the type of guy he is.
Team Names and Logs Revealed
I was lucky enough to go to the Dallas reveal party last week and Bob Stoops was at the event. I was unable to try and do the normal media thing of getting up in the interview circle and such as I had my six-year-old son with me, and we didn’t want to get in anyone’s way. So, we sat back and bit and watched mostly. While we were doing this my son kept asking me when the coach would be back, as he had seen him earlier and was really the only thing he knew of the event besides it being football. He was in another room getting a big TV interview apparently, so we kept watching for him. Mr. Stoops did eventually come back in, walking around a bit and talked to a couple people. Then all by himself, out of the blue he comes over to my son and sticks out his hand for a gimme-five. My son immediately gears back and gives him a perfectly placed slap. I was even impressed at the square shot sending a crack through the place as it can normally take a couple shots to get a good one, but it was on point. Mr. Stoops then asked if we wanted a picture, of course we took one. Nothing planned, no scheduled walkthrough to visit media or fans, no group of people leading him, just Bob Stoops being Bob Stoops, on his own. Great guy, and a memory made for sure.
The event itself was very nice gathering. It was held at the HERO restaurant and bar in Victory Park, right next to the home of the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars. There was decent crowd there with several dozen people it looked like, and it filled up a good portion of the bar event room seats. Precisely on time, Oliver Luck appeared on what was at least a 12-foot-wide screen and started talking.
He gave a quick introduction most of you have already heard, with the logos representing the spirit of football fans in their respective cities. And to signify "fun and football, nothing more." Then he got right into showing the video introductions for each team. There was excitement brewing as the video started to roll and the names started to come. Even with the felt excitement in the room most of the crowd was pretty quiet. That is until the Dallas Renegades portion concluded and then the cheers came out, and blue and red ribbons came down from the rafters.
Bob Stoops then came out and talked a bit. As to the logo he said, "I think the symbol, the Renegades all of it fits, fits Dallas. And I can’t wait to get going." And also added, "This is going to be an exciting and fun team to watch offensively, defensively." He made it clear they want to stand alone and not try to take any fans from other football or whatever, "Were not looking to take the place of any other team, we are just hopeful that whatever team you are used to rooting for in the fall when you take your Cowboys jersey off or whatever team you may be rooting for, come February you put the XFL on and follow us for a few games and have some fun."
Afterword everyone hubbubbed around for several minutes and the media cameras began to circle in the specified spot on the stage for the lineup of interviews. There was a bit more cameras this time around than at the Summer Showcase in June. So that was great to see. As noted, I didn't get to record much of the Q&A but hopefully I have provided some of the overall feel, excitement and atmosphere the XFL provided, which was top notch. On the way out the Dallas Renegades logo was showing on the Victory Park pavilion video board. Nice touch.
So, all in all I loved the reveal. The production was top notch. The logos and team names fit their cities well and seemed like a lot of thought went into them. I think they are all going to play out well and I don’t see any losers in the bid for the best team name and logo. Good stuff, Oliver Luck and company.
We have all seen the different names and logos so I will just comment on a few notables I thought stood out.
St Louis: This one seems to be getting the most talk in Twitterville. But that might just be because the St. Louis fans have always been more vocal than the rest. However, I love the look of this logo and it is going to look great on a helmet with the fighter jet/wings motif.
Dallas: The blue and black with red eyes looks great. This logo also harkens back to Dallas’ history with real cowboys. It fits in with the other Dallas teams as well; of course, the Cowboys, the former Desperadoes and even the Mavericks to a point.
New York: You got to love the gargoyles. They are mean, fit the Guardian’s name perfectly and look cool as heck. This will look good on football uniforms and promotions.
Tampa: Some didn’t like the name or logo saying it was too simple, but I liked it. The name Vipers is tough, cunning and strong. And seems like a name many teams would use but appears to be overlooked a lot for some reason. And the logo itself I thought was fine; cool color, shaped like a snake’s fang and with a snake eye in the middle of it. I thought it was pretty clever.
The reveal of the team names and logos has seemed to energize a lot of fans and even the media. It took a bit longer than some wanted but this was a huge milestone for the league. And us fans who have been here since the start will remember it for a long time. Exciting times to come everyone, I hope you all stay on this XFL train.
Until next time, enjoy the week that is!