XFL Xpires After Pandemic Shortened Season

The second incarnation of the XFL spring football league came to an abrupt end due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now it looks as if the league will not be back.

Yet another spring league now bites the dust along with last year’s Alliance of American Football (AAF), Arena Football League as well as other leagues: the first XFL, World League of American Football/NFL Europe and the United States Football League (USFL).

Maybe we can now admit to ourselves that professional spring football leagues won’t work. It has been tried now many times and each time they have all folded. As much as I love football it is also hard for me to admit that football can’t be a year-round sport.

It actually looked like the XFL was going to work with their innovative rules, television contracts and caliber of players but the pandemic brought an immediate end to the season. While established sports leagues can survive, startup leagues like the XFL was dealt a difficult blow to its existence.

The eight-team league will now add the Dallas Renegades, DC Defenders, Houston Roughnecks, New York Guardians, Los Angeles Wildcats, St. Louis Battlehawks and Tampa Bay Vipers to the graveyard of failed sports leagues and teams. It is sad. St. Louis was drawing big crowds to a city that has been abandoned by two NFL teams. Dallas and Houston had some quality teams and were going to be the two teams challenging for the league title.

It’s difficult to tell if the league would have survived its first season had it now been for the pandemic that has affected the entire world. They were soon going to be competing with Major League Baseball (MLB) for attention. I think they might have been able to do it but now we will never know.

Hopefully the XFL’s short-lived existence can live on if the NFL would consider some of the innovative rules that proved to be successful such as the kickoff where the kicker would line up on his own 30-yard line, but every one of the kicking team’s coverage players would be lined up on the opposing team’s 35-yard line. The receiving team’s blockers would line up just five yards away at their own 30-yard line. Players on both teams were only allowed to move once the returner caught the kickoff.  The NFL could also consider the XFL rules on points after touchdown where the league eliminated kicking and replaced with 1, 2 or 3-point conversions. I would also suggest the NFL make field goals worth four points if they were going to implement the XFL’s points-after-touchdown rules.

The XFL is gone. The pandemic claims another victim. There will be no more football played in the spring.

Sports Thoughts

Nashville’s third major league sports team kicked off over the weekend as Nashville SC made their debut in Major League Soccer (MLS) in front of over 59,000 fans at Nissan Stadium. The local news folks said this was the largest crowd to watch a professional soccer game in state history. That’s a pretty good start. The team was pretty competitive too with a narrow 2-1 loss to Atlanta United. As the season goes on, it will be interesting to see how strong the support will be for the remaining 16 home games. One expert said that if Nashville can average 20,000 that it would be a good level to maintain. I’m thinking they should be able to do it since they will fill the void between the Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans seasons.

Ratings for the new XFL spring football league have been steadily dropping since their opening weekend. I watched some of the game yesterday between the DC Defenders and Tampa Bay Vipers. There were a LOT of empty seats in the stadium. Tampa is a difficult market anyway and it doesn’t help that the Vipers were 0-3 going into the game. The XFL is nearing the midway part of the season. It will be interesting to see how strong they finish or if they will give it up like the Alliance of American Football (AAF) did a year ago. The XFL will now have competition from Major League Baseball (MLB) and Major League Soccer (MLS).

As I was channel surfing, I landed on one of the ESPN channels showing a cornhole tournament. Seriously? This backyard/tailgate game has become serious competition. They even have their own professional organization called the American Cornhole League (ACL). And people think bowling is boring….

For the first spring since 1987, there will no Arena Football League (AFL). The league died over the winter after drowning in debt and lawsuits. That’s a shame. The AFL was actually a good version of football played during the spring. The league had lots of high scoring and action. Their best season was probably in 2008 when they had 17 teams and averaged almost 13,000 fans per game. There are other indoor leagues but none of them have been the same caliber as the AFL.

Former Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback, Tony Romo, signed a sweet $17 million deal to continue with CBS as an broadcaster of NFL games. That’s a lot of money. Romo is good for sure but $17 million?

I am tired of hearing all the speculation of where Tom Brady will end up. I really don’t care. He’s at the end of his career and may have one more season left so what does it matter? I guess folks are thinking that team will win the Super Bowl if they have Brady. The latest rumors have been the Raiders or Titans. I just wish he would sign with someone already. Be done with it.

Four Central Kentucky newspapers laid off their sports reports last week. The sports departments at the the Advocate-Messenger, Jessamine Journal, Interior Journal and Winchester Sun were eliminated. All are owned by the same company, Boone Newspapers, Inc. Most were blindsided by the news. Now that’s pretty cold-hearted.

Seattle’s new National Hockey League (NHL) expansion franchise still does not have a name. They are scheduled to start playing next season. I’m not sure what the delay is. The most popular vote is for “Sockeyes”. I think that’s some kind of fish in the region. Seems fitting for a hockey name.

I have not been following college basketball but a glance at the latest rankings have Kansas (26-3) leading the men and South Carolina (29-1) leading the women. It’s about time for March Madness. Get those brackets ready.

XFL Expansion To Nashville?

After a successful first weekend of the XFL, there is premature speculation on what cities the league might expand to next. Personally, I think it’s way too soon to assume that the XFL will add more cities yet. This version of the league has been operating in a slow and methodical method so I don’t see expansion in the near future. But, if they had a successful season and started looking at other cities, would Nashville be in the running?

The XFL is not afraid of putting teams in cities with National Football League (NFL) franchises. They already put teams in New York, Dallas, Houston, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington D.C. so there is no reason they couldn’t consider Nashville.

Unfortunately, I think there are other cities more suited for the XFL than Nashville. I think San Diego and San Antonio would be at the top of the XFL’s expansion list. The XFL would be remiss if they passed up on San Diego which was abandoned by the Chargers. Along with San Antonio, I also think Columbus (OH), Louisville (KY) and Orlando (FL) could be ahead of any possibility of a Nashville XFL thought.

Nashville would have some things on the con list to consider. First, they would not have a dedicated stadium since Nashville’s Major League Soccer (MLS) would also share Nissan Stadium until their stadium is built (if ever). The next big issue is the weather. The weather is so unpredictable in Middle Tennessee in February and March. It can be in the 70s one day and snow the next few days as well as rainy/stormy times that are frequent during this time of the year.

COULD Nashville support an XFL team? Yes, they absolutely could. This area could support it but there are other cities that would be a better fit for the league.

It’s simply too early to speculate on the future of the XFL after just one week. Past leagues have failed so the emphasis should be for stability and filling a niche during football’s off-season.

Let’s just see how it goes in 2020 and see if the XFL even makes it through the season.

Second Coming Of The XFL

This weekend, the return of the XFL kicked off in Dallas, New York, Houston and Washington D.C.

I liked it and have a good feeling about this league.

Early reviews and ratings are already better than last year’s failure of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) which failed to finish the season.

I watched the highlights of all four games from the first weekend and I think they have a quality product on the field. It’s also a kinder, gentler version of the original XFL that Vince McMahn put in our faces in 2001.

I also love the rule changes with the kickoff and extra point rules where they have eliminated kicking the point after touchdown for letting teams go for 1,2 or 3 points. I think that’s a great idea.

The league had an average attendance of 17,000 in Dallas, DC, New York and Houston which isn’t too bad. The XFL generated more ticket sales revenue prior to kickoff than last year’s AAF generated during its entire season. TV ratings where respectable with over 3.3 million viewers.

So can the XFL make it where so many others have failed? It depends on one very important thing – money. If they play within their means and don’t try to compete with the National Football League (NFL) they could last a bit longer than other leagues that have failed in the past. I also think that scheduling might help. I’m not sure that starting the season the week after the Super Bowl is a good plan. I might have waited until the first weekend in March.

The XFL has a great opportunity to be a developmental league for the NFL. The XFL isn’t trying to do that yet but if they can be a stable league, the NFL might see the advantage of a working relationship. I would like to see that happen. I have always thought that a spring football league could work with the right financing and management.

I was glad to see that the new XFL dropped the gimmicky WWE hype from the first version. Maybe they got it right this time. It’s hard to predict their future after the first week but they are certainly off to a good start.

Scores from the first week:

DC Defenders 31, Seattle Dragons 19

Houston Roughnecks 37, Los Angeles Wildcats 17

New York Guardians 23, Tampa Bay Vipers 3

St. Louis Battlehawks 15, Dallas Renegades 9

Random Sports Thoughts

randomPREDATORS GOT THE DEVIL FOR A COACH

Okay, I have GOT to say this….what the “devil” were the Predators thinking in hiring John Hynes to replace Peter Laviolette as their coach?  I don’t understand the thinking that goes into replacing Laviolette with a coach was was fired in December from the New Jersey Devils who was in last place.  I was expecting something more.  I thought they would go with one of the remaining assistant coaches or even ask Mike Fisher to come in to coach the team.  If Hynes was the only option, I think I would have stayed with Laviolette.  Not a good move.  I would be surprised if the Predators even make the playoffs this season.

TITANS ARE ON A ROLL

The Titans did the unthinkable last week, they took down the mighty New England Patriots in the wildcard round last week.  Derrick Henry is a beast and punished the Patriots with a huge game on the ground.  Now the Titans move on to face Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens this Saturday in the divisional round.  It doesn’t get any easier as they play the top team in the National Football League (NFL).  The Titans haven’t done so well with mobile quarterbacks and Baltimore’s Jackson is about as mobile as it gets.  Certainly the Titans could win but they are going to have to play another great game.  I think it’s going to come down to how they are able to defend against Jackson.

NFL COACHING CHANGES

The Dallas Cowboys have hired former Green Bay Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy to replace Jason Garrett.  I think that’s a good match….I don’t think the same about the Carolina Panthers hiring Matt Rhule from Baylor.  His overall coaching record in college is 47-43.  His only previous NFL experience was in 2012 as the assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants….I’m not sure who is going to go the Cleveland Browns.  I keep reading that Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh Daniels is in the running but, personally, I wouldn’t bother with pursuing him.  Others still on the Browns’ list are Kevin Stefanski and Jim Schwartz.  Not looking good for the Browns.

MLS SET TO KICKOFF IN NASHVILLE

Believe it or not, the season opener for Major League Soccer (MLS) in Nashville is February 29th when Nashville SC hosts Atlanta United.  (Yes, I’m still trying to get used to these soccer team names).  It’s going to be a challenging start to the Nashville expansion team.   Nashville is set to play Atlanta (2018 champion), Portland (2015) and Toronto (2017) in its first three matches before hosting Columbus Crew SC at Nissan Stadium. The fifth match is a nationally-televised game against Seattle Sounders FC, which won the 2016 and 2019 titles. Nashville SC has a 34-game schedule and will play in the Western Conference in 2020, with two matches against each of those 12 other teams. The club is scheduled to play eight of its 10 games against Eastern Conference opponents by May 30.Nashville SC will have no home matches between May 13 and July 5, playing seven road games during that time. But there are five consecutive home matches between July 18 and Aug. 5.

XFL SET TO RETURN IN FEBRUARY

Training camp is underway for the eight XFL teams.  The season will kickoff on February 8th with the Seattle Dragons taking on the DC Defenders and the Los Angeles Wildcats play the Houston Roughnecks.

The XFL has announced some interesting rule changes.

  • During punts, players can’t leave the line of scrimmage until after the punter kicks the ball away, so there will won’t be any blocks.
  • Punts that go into the end zone or out of play will be spotted at the 35-yard line or wherever the ball lands out of bounds. The concept of fair catches and pinning the opposition down deep are being eliminated with this type of rule.
  • On point-after attempts following a touchdown a team will have three options: a one-point play from the 2-yard line, a two-point play from the 3-yard line, or a three-point play from the 10-yard line.
  • Like college football, players will only be required to have one foot in bounds to establish possession on catches. The XFL believes that will make the game easier to officiate and won’t lead to long reviews.

Finally, a shootout-style overtime period will be put in place where each team will get five single-play possessions from the 5-yard line. If the game remains tied, teams will rotate possessions until someone comes away victorious.

HAVEN’T THEY PLAYED THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP YET?

This morning I wondered if the game had been played already.  Unless you are a Tiger fan (LSU or Clemson) then it isn’t exactly on your radar.  Apparently it wasn’t on mine.  The answer is that the title game will be played Monday in New Orleans.  The 16-day gap from the semifinals was a result of scheduling the Superdome for the game.  Planning for the matchup next week has been underway for years, but not as currently arranged. The playoff organizers selected New Orleans for this season’s championship game in November 2015. Before New Orleans was chosen, Superdome officials and the local host committee said the stadium was available for Jan. 6 or Jan. 13. Playoff officials selected the later date, expecting that this season’s semifinals would be played on Dec. 31. They hoped to avoid a gap of less than a week between rounds.  Personally, I don’t really care.  Just play the damn game already.

 

 

 

 

 

Football Friday (8/23/19)

FF_todayLet’s take a look at American football being played around the world….

CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Friday night football kicks off Week 11 with the Blue Bombers in Edmonton playing for first place in the West Division. Edmonton is undefeated at home this season (4-0) and is looking to make it three straight wins following victories over Ottawa and Toronto. Winnipeg is similarly hoping to extend a three-game winning streak after defeating Calgary and BC. With Matt Nichols sidelined, the Blue Bombers turn to Chris Streveler to continue the momentum. Kick off is at 9 p.m. ET.

Saturday features a double-header with a pair of interdivision games. First at 7 p.m. ET, Ottawa travels to Regina to take on the Roughriders. The REDBLACKS are in pursuit of a season series sweep of Saskatchewan after a Week 2, 44-41 win, but the team is 1-6 since and have lost two in a row. The Roughriders however, are 5-1 over that same stretch and are riding a four-game winning streak.

The 10 p.m. ET game takes us to Vancouver where the Lions will host the East Division-leading Tiger-Cats. BC will look to avenge a one-point loss to Hamilton in Week 9, while collecting its first home victory this season. Dane Evans is in search of his third victory as a starter, which would push the Tiger-Cats’ win streak to three.

Sunday bring us to Moncton, N.B., for the 2019 edition of Touchdown Atlantic between the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts. The game marks the fourth regular season contest game to take place in Moncton and the first since 2013. The surging Alouettes are coming off their first victory at McMahon Stadium since 2009 – a thrilling come-from-behind, double-overtime affair which is already garnering consideration as the Game of the Year. Toronto will be facing its first East Division since Week 2 when they played host to Hamilton. Kickoff is at 12 p.m. ET.

ELITE INDOOR FOOTBALL
The semi-pro EIF recently announced teams called the Texas Stealth, Texas Grim Reapers (Fort Worth) and Texas Takeover will be part of a new 2020 Texas Division. The Stealth and Grim Reapers will both play home games in Mansfield (TX). The EIF also announced a team called the Sarasota County (FL) Thunder will be part of the league’s 2020 season.

FINLAND MAPLE LEAGUE
The Helsinki Roosters (10-1) and Wasa Royals (3-8) racked up nearly 1,000 yards of offense and 100 points between them as the Roosters held on for a 49-41 road victory in Vaasa, Finland.

This was Helsinki’s 10th straight win and locked up first place in Finland Maple League.

Led by Adam Connette who was simply unstoppable on this night, Helsinki took a 24-13 halftime lead but had to keep scoring the rest of the way to stay ahead of the Royals.

Connette had 347 all purpose yards in the game, rushing for 170 yards and a touchdown while catching eight passes for 148 yards and another touchdown while scoring a third touchdown on a fumble recovery. Nnamdi Agude hauled in six passes for 65 yards and three touchdowns while Roosters quarterback Miro Kadmiry threw for 271 yards and four touchdowns. Defensive back Monteze Latimore added a 45 yard pick six for Helsinki.

For the Royals, quarterback Diondre Borel had another big night throwing the football, completing 24 of 50 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns. His favorite target was Nicholas Peterson who caught 11 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown while Aymeric Nicault had six receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns and Alpha Jalloh hauled in six for 83 yards and two touchdowns as well.

Helsinki opened the scoring when Connette jarred the ball loose from Jalloh’s arms on a punt return, pouncing on it in the end zone with just under nine minutes left in the first quarter.

The Royals responded on the ensuing kickoff with Zach Blair taking the ball all the way back to tie the game at 7-7.

Two series later, Borel hit Jalloh from 16 yards out and Wasa went ahead 13-7.

Kadmiry finally got the Roosters offense moving after the defense forced a Wasa safety to narrow the gap to 13-9. Seven plays later, Kadmiry hit Agude for a 10 yard score and with the two-point conversion, Helsinki went out in front 17-13 early in the second quarter.

The Roosters took a solid lead on their next possession when Kadmiry marched them 85 yards in eight plays, capping it with a 15 yard touchdown pass to Connette extending the lead to 24-13 going into the break.

Wasa came out on fire in the third as Borel hit Nicault for a 70 yard touchdown strike to reduce the lead to 24-20. Six minutes later, Kadmiry found Agude for a four yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 31-20.

With the Royals defense struggling, Kadmiry engineered another touchdown drive, marching his team 78 yards in six plays culminating it with a 23 yard touchdown pass to Agude and Helsinki took a 37-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Borel responded, finding Jalloh on the next series, hitting him with a five yard touchdown pass to again reduce the lead, this time to 37-27.

It was the Wasa defense’s turn to get a stop and they did on the next drive, forcing an unsuccessful field goal attempt. Borel took over and hit Nicault with his third touchdown pass of the day, reducing the lead to 37-34 with five minutes to go in the game.

Connette put a dagger into the hearts of the Royals on the very next play from scrimmage, finding a gap and racing 65 yards to up the lead to 43-34.

Then Borel, forcing the issue, committed his first error of the game, throwing an interception which Monteze Latimore turned into a pick six to give Helsinki a 49-34 lead with four minutes left.

Still the Royals were not done. Borel took his team on an 80 yard drive and then hit Peterson from six yards out with just over two minutes left and the score was 49-41.

The onside kick attempt failed however and Helsinki managed to keep control of the ball and run the clock out.

With the win, Helsinki took a stranglehold on first place while the Royals find themselves next to last in the Maple League with one game left.

GERMAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE
The Braunschweig New Yorker Lions (11-0) took their game up another notch this past weekend and left the Hildesheim Invaders (9-2) in a cloud of dust, blanking them 37-0 and establishing themselves as a true contender for the 2019 German Football League title.

The first time these two teams met earlier in the season, Braunschweig got by the Invaders, 35-28. On this day, it wasn’t even close.

With the league’s top running game operating at full throttle, the Lions exploded for three first quarter touchdowns to take a 23-0 lead while smothering Hildesheim’s offense the rest of the way.

Running back Chris McClendon led the way for Braunschweig rushing for 135 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries with quarterback Brandon Connette scoring another two touchdowns carrying the ball 10 times for 45 yards. Connette completed 6 of 9 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns with Christian Bollmann his top receiver with two receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown and Micky Kyei with two catches for 49 yards and the other passing touchdown.

For Hildesheim quarterback Casey Therriault it was a dismal afternoon and ended late in the second quarter when he was sidelined with an ankle injury. He finished with 68 yards passing and 26 yards receiving. His backup, Chris Andrew fared no better against the relentless pressure from the Braunschweig defense, throwing for just 38 yards.

The Lions asserted themselves on the opening drive as Connette took his team to the Hildesheim 39 and then hit Kyei for a touchdown pass.

The defense stuffed the Invaders on the next series, giving Connette and crew the ball at midfield. Mixing his plays up nicely, the Lions quarterback marched his team down to the two yard line and finished the drive by punching the ball in himself. He added the two-point conversion and Braunshweig took a 15-0 lead with just under three minutes left in the first quarter.

Braunschweig’s defense shut the door again on Therriault & company, as linebacker Roni Salonen forced a fumble, recovering the ball at the Hildesheim 46. Two plays later, Connette connected with Bollmann for a 35 yard touchdown strike and the score was 23-0 with over a minute to go in the first.

The shell-shocked Invaders could not get out of their own half of the field and two possessions later, early in the second quarter, Therriault was picked off at midfield.

Connette wasted no time. He found Bollmann again, this time for a 45 yard completion and then ran the ball in himself from the two and the score was 30-0 with seven minutes still left in the first half.

Disaster struck for the Invaders on the next series. With Therriault finally getting his offense into gear, marching them down to the Braunschweig 21 yard line, he twisted his ankle on a 20 yard run. Andrews came in and managed to take the Invaders down to the Braunsschweig five yard line, but was stopped on fourth down giving the Lions a 30-0 lead at the half.

The third quarter saw neither team able to get an edge until a Hildesheim punt trapped the Lions on their own 10 yard line.

That’s when McClendon really made his presence known.

On a first down from his own 10, he burst into the secondary and raced 90 yards for a touchdown, boosting the lead to 37-0, and squashing all hope for the Hildesheim faithful.

The rest of the game was a slow march to another Braunschweig win, their 11th straight, keeping them unbeaten so far in 2019.

Next up for the Lions are the winless Dusseldorf Panther in a home and home series. Hildesheim will face the Cologne Crocodiles.

GRIDIRON DEVELOPMENTAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
The Oklahoma Thunder won a record-setting 4th consecutive GDFL National Title by defeating the top-seed Middle Tennessee 24-12 to win the 10th Annual Gridiron Bowl and its 4th consecutive national championship. The contest was a defensive struggle between two excellent teams, with a total of 12 forced turnovers and 6 sacks.Both offenses were held well below their season averages in total yardage as well.

Middle Tennessee threatened to score early on its first drive, using an eight-minute drive that spanned 12 plays and 55 yards. That drive ended in a goal-line stand, however, as Thunder CB #21 James Caligone tackled a Bulldawgs WR at the Thunder 1 yard line. Later in the 1st half, Middle Tennessee capitalized on a Thunder interception and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to make the score 6-0.

That score would end up being the halftime margin. A couple of big defensive plays early in the 3rd quarter turned the game around and gave the Thunder a lead they would not relinquish:

• A 36-yard interception return for a touchdown by #26 DJ Wolfe during Middle Tennessee’s open drive of the third quarter, resulting in a 7-6 Thunder lead.

• A 26-yard interception return for a touchdown by #55 Shawn Jackson that extended the Thunder lead to 14-6. In all, the defense held Middle Tennessee to only 143 total yards while forcing 7 turnovers (6 interceptions), 3 sacks, 3 hurries, 2 blocked punts, and an average of only 2.1 yards per rush.

Thunder Defensive Coordinator Morgan Clements had this to say about his unit’s effort: “We have the #1 defense in the nation and have had the best for the last 4 years bar none. We made a few adjustments from the first time we played the Bulldawgs and our players bought in and made it happen.” “We never doubted we would win the game” explained OT Brandon Brown. “The defense shined brighter than ever. We knew we had to win by any means…” Offensively, QB Daniel Knighten came in during the second half and helped the Thunder produce key, time-consuming drives that controlled the clock and preserved the lead. His leadership and command of the offense landed him the league’s Most Valuable Player award. The drives he led resulted in points:

• #22 K David Goodson made a 28-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-12 in the 4th quarter

• #15 RB/WR Winston Holder took a hand-off from Knighten and hit a wide-open #17 WR Trae Sterns for a touchdown, extending the lead to 24-12. The victory now extends the Thunder’s national/world title count to 8.

Hall of Fame Head Coach Rashid Lowe had this to say about the team’s accomplishments: “We faced a lot of adversity. Injuries had never plagued us like they did this year. Some of them were career ending and we sustained significant injuries to three separate QBs. Knighten’s contribution was so significant because of how he recovered from his own significant injury early in the year to lead us to victory in the second half. Perseverance the Thunder way!”

INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE
The Albuquerque-based Duke City Gladiators, which played the past five seasons (2015 through 2019) as part of Champions Indoor Football, plan to announce next week its membership application has been accepted by the IFL and the team will be part of the 2020 IFL season.

NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE
The Jacksonville Sharks (15-1) defeated the defending champions Carolina Cobras (10-6) 52-48 to claim their second NAL Championship Title.

Quarterback Mike Fafaul started the game for the Sharks tonight after leaving the first playoff game with an injury, yet, he was able to start and perform well for Jacksonville. He finished 15-of-24 for 146 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. When Bane came in, he was 5-of-12 for 26 yards. Wide Receiver Durron Neal finished with the most touchdowns on the Sharks with two. He had eight receptions for 42 yards as well. Devin Wilson had six receptions for 89 yards and one touchdown. Brandon Behr was perfect on PAT’s (6-of-6) and had one deuce.

In the first half, the Sharks were off to a slow start, being down 0-14 early on. Bringing the Sharks back to life, Fafaul was able to air it out to Wilson on a 14-yard-pass. From there, the Sharks were able to score 16 more unanswered points on a blocked kick recovered by Game MVP Chris Gilchrist and a forced fumble from Defensive Lineman Damien Jacobs and the scoop and score from Jack Linebacker Chris Gilchrist. This brought the Sharks up to a 23-14 lead in the second quarter. With just under a minute to go in the first half, the Cobras were able to score a touchdown and was able to stop the Sharks’ offense from scoring. The halftime score was 23-28 with the Sharks trailing by five.

In the second half, the Sharks were down by multiple drives the entire time, but fought hard in the second half. With just 11 seconds left, Fafaul found Neal in the end-zone for the game-winning touchdown. On the Cobras final drive, with just seconds left, they traveled all the way down to the Jacksonville 6-yard-line before being stopped and the clock was at 0.

WOMEN’S EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Team Sweden set the tone from the opening kickoff and never let up earning a resounding 48-6 victory over Austria to capture a historic silver medal at the IFAF 2019 Women’s European Championships at John Charles Stadium in Leeds, England.

This was the first time a Swedish women’s American football team has won a medal of any kind in a major tournament.

Sweden needed to win by at least 35 points to have a chance at silver and they did that and more.

Karin Ullen returned the opening kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown and the rout was on. The Swedish defense did not surrender a point as Austria’s only points came from a fumble return.

Ullen added another touchdown in the first quarter, hauling in a 51 yard pass from quarterback Linda Johansson to extend the Swedish lead to 14-0. Austria got on the board when defensive back Teresa Müllebner scooped up a fumble and raced 62 yards to reduce the lead to 14-6.

The Swedes made no more mistakes.

In the second quarter, Anna Hedström and Minmin Zhao each ran for a touchdown to give Sweden a 28-6 halftime lead.

Fully aware of the urgent need for points, Sweden opened the second half with an onside kick. Johansson drove her team down to the three yard line and called her own number boosting the lead to 35-6. In the fourth quarter Sweden expanded the lead to 41-6, through a Sara Lidner touchdown, and then to 48-6 as Anna Hedström added a touchdown. Sabina Rydberg kicked all six extra points.

To earn silver, Sweden needed to win by 35 or more points in the event of a Finnish first place finish. Finland actually lost the final game of the tournament to Great Britain 18-14, creating a three-way tie for first between Finland, Sweden and the host nation.

The medals were decided first on points between the three and then on overall points which included each team’s win over Austria.

Finland took home the gold since Great Britain needed to beat them by six points or more.

XFL
The XFL revealed the names and logos of the league’s eight inaugural teams:

“The XFL is about football and fun, and our team identities are intended to signify just that,” said XFL President and COO, Jeffrey Pollack. “Now it’s up to our fans and players to help write the story. What happens on the field and in the community, in the years ahead, will determine the true spirit of each team.”

The XFL team identities were presented to fans today during a show that was streamed simultaneously across XFL.com, ESPN.com, FOXSports.com, and the league’s social channels. Eight short films were produced to share the origin story of each team name. Scripts of the films follow with a link for viewing:

DC Defenders: On the shoulders of giants, they stand tall. Unconquerable. Unyielding. Marching ever forward. A force united. One quest. One purpose. One resolve. Seeking glory through grit. Victory through valor. The DC Defenders. Taking their stand.

Dallas Renegades: Deep in the heart of Texas, beats a different kind of pulse. A spirit untamed. A swagger that can’t be denied. Where big meets bold meets badass. This is outlaw country, inside the lines. This is hell on wheels, between hash marks. This is their home on the range. The Dallas Renegades. Raising Hell.

Houston Roughnecks: Resolute. Rippling with heat. Railing against fatigue. Unceasing and often unseen, they labor deep in the trenches. Mercenaries in the muck. Brawlers in blackened dirt. Not just for three hours. Not just when the lights are bright. These are the scratching, grinding, never-bending few. The Houston Roughnecks. Going to work for you.

Los Angeles Wildcats: In the land of bright lights. Far from the flash and fame. They’ve already begun to prowl. Enter their den and be dominated. Run away and be ripped apart. This is prime time meets primal instinct. This is showtime with a snarl. This is our time to roar. The L.A. Wildcats. Unleashed.

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.

St. Louis BattleHawks: Winged warriors. Preparing for flight. Preparing to fight. They await their orders. Then attack as one. Diving, dodging, swooping, striking. Their mission: create chaos. Their mandate: win at all costs. The St. Louis BattleHawks.

Seattle Dragons: Rising from the turbulent sea. Beneath the darkening skies of their weather-hardened home. Relentless, ruthless, ravenous. Not of mythology, but of muscle and might. Not of folklore, but of football. This is your darkest fantasy, in cleats. The Seattle Dragons. Breathing fire.

Tampa Bay Vipers: In the shadows they wait. Demons, born in darkness. Hunters by instinct. Cold-blooded by nature. Their bite, unavoidable. Their grip, inescapable. They slither and stalk their competition. Luring all who challenge them, into the jaws of defeat. The Tampa Bay Vipers. Ready to strike.

XFL Releases Names/Logos For Teams….and I Like Them

Okay, I have had a lot of hits on my blog with my XFL team name predictions and….I missed them all.

Let’s take a look at what the XFL decided:

Dallas Renegades

I’m okay with this one and it fits what a Dallas team should be called. The United States Football League (USFL) had a team called the Orlando Renegades.

D.C. Defenders

Another good choice. I didn’t think of them using D.C. instead of Washington but I like it. Defenders is a good unique name. Folks at the Pentagon will embrace the name.

Houston Roughnecks

This is probably as close as they could get to an Oilers name. Very clever.

Los Angeles Wildcats

Okay I have no idea behind the thinking on this name for an L.A. team. It’s really a high school name for a team. This one puzzles me.

New York Guardians

Not bad. There is a lot you can do with this name. I had suggested Heroes so this is pretty close.

St. Louis BattleHawks

I have no idea what a Battlehawk is. It sounds too close to Blackhawks. It is definitely unique and good that football fans in St. Louis finally has their own identity.

Seattle Dragons

I like it. I was hoping they would pick a good one and not something beginning with “sea” something.

Tampa Bay Vipers

Another head scratcher. I’m not sure where this one came from when you others more relatable to the area.

Overall I think the XFL did a good job with the names/logos. I think this is much better than the team names from the first XFL with Rage, Maniax, Hitmen, Enforcers, Demons, Extreme, Thunderbolts and Outlaws.

The new version of the XFL kicks off in February 2020.

Now the teams will need to fill their rosters with quality players who will be representing these teams and wearing these names/logos.

Will The AAF Succeed?

aaf_leagueThis weekend a new professional football league will kick off their inaugural season.  The Alliance of American Football (AAF) opens business with teams in Atlanta, Orlando, Memphis, Birmingham, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, San Diego and Phoenix.  The AAF is hoping to fill the football void now that the National Football League (NFL) season is over.  This new league isn’t the first to try playing during the NFL’s offseason.  Several other leagues have tried and failed.

The United States Football League (USFL) was probably the most successful spring football league which was not associated with the NFL.  The played three seasons from 1983-1985.  The league made an immediate impact as they signed some of the top college talent when they signed three consecutive Heisman Trophy winners Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie and Mike Rozier. Other notable players/coaches included:   George Allen, Jim Kelly, Marv Levey, Steve Young and Reggie White.  The only radical rule difference was that the USFL adopted the two-point conversion.  The NFL did not start the two-point conversion until 1994.

Most people say that the reason that the league failed was when Donald Trump became owner of the New Jersey Generals and pushed for the league to move to a fall schedule to compete with the NFL.  The USFL also filed antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and won the suit but was only awarded $3.76 in damages.  The league was not able to recover and folded before it could move to the fall in 1986.  Many football experts feel that if the USFL had not deviated from their spring schedule that they would have lasted longer.

Perhaps the most successful off-season league was when the NFL backed the World League of American Football/NFL-Europe.  The league kicked off as the World League of American Football (WLAF) in 1991 with ten (10) teams in North America, Canada and Europe.  This league served mostly as a developmental league for the NFL.  After the 1992 season, the league suspended play for two seasons.  The league had better success with their Europe franchises than those in North America so when the league returned for the 1995 season, the league focused more on the European teams.  In 1998 they changed the league name to NFL-Europe.  Unfortunately, the league was terminated after the 2007 season at the league was losing about $30 million a season.

The first edition of the XFL played in the spring/summer of 2001.  The league was the idea of WWE guru Vince McMahon.  The league only lasted one season.  The league was known more about entertainment rather than the quality of play on the field.   The XFL secured a television contract with NBC after that network lost their NFL games.  The XFL had some interesting rules such as the opening scramble instead of a coin toss to determine possession.  Players lined up at their 30-yard line and raced to recover the ball at midfield.  The XFL also eliminated the kick for point after touchdowns with the option of a one, two or three-point conversions depending on distance from the goal line.  If a punt travel at least 25 yards, the kicking team could recover to gain possession.  There was also no fair catches allowed.    After losing $35 million dollars, the league folded after one season.  The new XFL is scheduled to come back in 2020.

A couple of other leagues failed to kickoff.  One was called the Professional Spring Football League (PSFL).   The league was scheduled to begin in 1992 with ten teams.  Each team had already been in training camp and trimming down their rosters in preparation for the season.  The league folded just 10 days before the season opener.  The league’s championship game was to be called the “Red, White and Blue Bowl” and was scheduled to be played at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC on July 5, 1992.

Another rather interesting attempt was called the All American Football League (AAFL) which was scheduled to start in the spring of 2007.  The league was hoping to appeal to college football fans with teams located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas.  The teams would play in college football stadiums during the spring and players had to have a four-year university degree to be eligible to play.  Teams also did not have nicknames but instead adopted their home state logo for their helmets.  On March 13, 2008 the league announced that the 2008 season would not take place and hoped to begin in 2009; however, they never got off the ground.  It was reported that the league lost some of their major investors which led to the demise of the proposed league.

It is hard to say whether or not the AFF will succeed where these other leagues failed.  Many of the cities have been burned repeatedly by failed teams and leagues of the past.  It will be a difficult sell.  It is very difficult for leagues to survive the finances needed to sustain them.  With the AAF working with the NFL, this could be a significant advantage.  Places franchises in cities without an NFL franchise is also a good idea.  Only two of the AAF’s eight teams (Atlanta and Arizona) play in current NFL markets.

Personally, I don’t feel like this league will fare differently than any of the other leagues before them.  Although football is a popular sport here in America, I think most fans need a break from their sport to recover and get ready for the next season.  Mentally most fans need a break from it.  If the NFL truly wants a developmental league, they need to partner with a league which plays during the same time like minor leagues operate in the baseball.  I have always felt that an “NFL2” league could operate in non-NFL cities as a developmental league for the NFL.  The championship game could be called the “SuperCup” and played the week before the Super Bowl and eliminate the Pro Bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

XFL Announces Teams For 2020 Kickoff

Presentation1It appears that the resurrection of the XFL is coming in February 2020 as XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck announced the cities planned for the new league.  Only two cities (New York and Los Angeles) will return from the previous edition of the XFL which played in 2001.

The new cities and stadiums will be:

  • 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 new XFL plans to be more fan-friendly with fast-paced games, family-friendly environment as well as several ways to view games.

The league will play a 10-game schedule with two semifinal playoff games and a championship game.

Another league, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) kicks off in February 2019 so it will be interesting to see which league will survive.  At this time, neither league has teams in both leagues.

The previous version of the league consisted of Orlando Rage, New York-New Jersey Hitmen, Chicago Enforcers, Los Angeles Extreme, Las Vegas Outlaws, Memphis Maniax, Birmingham Thunderbolts and San Francisco Demons.  As with the original league, Vin McMahon will also be involved in the XFL reboot but is promoting a “kinder and gentler” league when it takes the field in 2020.

Suggested nicknames for the new teams include:

  • Dallas – Wranglers, Outlaws, Desperados
  • Houston – Outlaws, Roughriders, Stallions
  • Los Angeles – Extreme, Stars, Condors
  • New York – Hitmen, Heroes
  • St. Louis – Steamers, Stallions
  • Seattle – Enforcers, Kraken
  • Tampa Bay – Krewe, Thunderbolts, Tritons, Bandits
  • Washington – Warriors, Stars

Philadelphia has registered a domain for an XFL team and may be a future location if the league succeeds and looks to expand.

Johnny Maziel who failed with the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) and recently played with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League (CFL) tops the list of players who might be interested in playing for the Dallas XFL franchise.

So will the XFL work?  I think it CAN work but only if it can survive the competition with the AAF which will already have a head start on them.  I think both leagues can co-exist as long as they establish themselves and don’t put franchises in cities with other leagues.  I still think that outdoor football in the winter/spring is a hard sell but still should appeal to football fans more than arena football.

Obscure Sports Report (6/13/18)

rush

Third NLL Title for Saskatchewan Rush in Four Years

The Saskatchewan Rush won their third National Lacrosse League (NLL) title in Game 3 of the championship series against the Rochester Knighthawks.  Jeff Shattler scored four goals in the series-deciding game in the 15-10 win.  For the Rush, the win was particularly sweet redemption after having their two-year reign atop the NLL come to a gut-wrenching conclusion last year as they lost the final to the Georgia Swarm especially losing the deciding Game 2 at home in overtime. But the Rush were determined to get back to the top and they rumbled through the regular season with a 14-4 record which earned them home-floor advantage throughout the playoffs. They wound up needing it and using it to their full advantage with a raucous crowd of 13,645 at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon watching the Rush hoist the newly minted NLL Cup.

The American Arena League (AAL) wrapped up their regular season but the playoff schedule is a little blurry.  The Georgia Doom defeated the Atlanta Havoc on Saturday, 48-42, to clinch a playoff berth but the Doom owners decided not to participate in the playoffs.   Don’t expect the league’s website to be much help either.  According to the standings, the top teams are:  Richmond Roughriders (10-1), Atlanta Havoc (9-2), Georgia Doom (6-2) and Carolina Energy (6-3).

Washington Valor defensive back Fred Obi has been named the Arena Football League (AFL) Week 9’s Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Philadelphia Soul. In his first game with the Valor, Obi recorded three solo tackles, one pass break-up and a pair of interceptions, the second of which occurred with just 18 seconds left in the game and sealed the Washington win.

The Champions Indoor Football (CIF) league begins their playoffs this weekend with eight teams entering the postseason.

  • Duke City Gladiators vs. Wichita Force
  • Amarillo Venom vs. Texas Revolution
  • Salina Liberty vs. Bismarck Bucks
  • Sioux City Bandits vs. Quad Cities Steamwheelers

Champions Bowl IV will be played the weekend of June 30th, with the location of the game to be determined during the playoffs.

The Sioux Falls Storm stunned the Iowa Barnstormers in a week 16 Indoor Football League (IFL) showdown.   The Storm would begin the third quarter with a 25-yard field goal by Miles Bergner, cutting the Barnstormers lead to 35-31. The Barnstormers would extend their lead to 49-31 after scoring on back to back drives. The first score was a 21-yard touchdown pass by Drew Powell to Skyler Scott and then a 29-yard touchdown pass by Drew Powell to Brady Roland. The Storm would end the third quarter with a team safety, trailing 49-33.  The Sioux Falls Storm would be the only team to score in the fourth quarter to earn their tenth win of the season with a 51-49 victory. The first score was a one-yard rushing touchdown by Lorenzo Brown along with a successful two-point conversion where Lorenzo Brown found Damond Powell, next Lorenzo Brown would get a two-yard rushing touchdown with a successful two-point conversion after Lorenzo Brown hit Damian Ford and then the Thunder Defense would block the game winning field and earn a safety from it.

The Columbus Lions defeated the Maine Mammoths 55-34 on Saturday night in the National Arena League (NAL). The Lions held off a late charge from the Mammoths to improve their record to 5-2 on the season. This loss drops the Mammoths to 1-7 on the year.  Quayvon Hicks led the offense on Saturday. Hicks rushed for three touchdowns, with his final touchdown sealing the game for the Lions. Quarterback Mason Espinosa had another efficient day throwing for over 250 yards and five touchdowns. Triston Purifoy had a monster game for the Lions. Purify hauled in 11 passes for 111 yards and three touchdowns. Durron Neal contributed with 84 yards on four catches and two touchdowns. The Lions offense totaled 281 yards on the day and averaged 5.9 yards per play.

In the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL), the DC Breeze had a thrilling 25-24 overtime win over the Toronto Rush to hand the Rush their first loss of the season.  Toronto had the disc with 38 seconds remaining in overtime with a chance to send the contest to the sudden death 2nd OT; however, the DC defense held on and frustrated Toronto’s offensive push.

The revival of the XFL, which plans to start in 2020 with eight teams is considering St. Louis, Houston, San Antonio and Los Angeles.

The BIG3 Basketball League is coming back again this summer and the 3-on-3 league starts on June 22nd with live streaming the league’s game for a nine-week period with one game being shown each Friday.

Major League Quidditch (MLQ) has begun its fourth season with 16 teams.  The Austin Outlaws are the defending champions.