XFL debuts to positive reviews

Former Baylor footballl player Shawn Oakman completed the only sack for Los Angeles during XFL football game Saturday in Houston. Oakman held Baylor’s record for single-season sacks until James Lynch broke it last season. Associated Press

By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer

The NFL season ended last weekend with the Kansas City Chiefs taking the Super Bowl LIV trophy home. But this year, a new league has come about to fill the appetite of football fans. WWE chairman Vince McMahon brought back the XFL this weekend, which only survived for one year in 2001.

The XFL has eight teams, so there were two games on Saturday and two on Sunday. There are quite a few former NFL players in this new league. While most were not big-time NFL players, there are a few recognizable names on XFL rosters.

The first game of the season was held Saturday in Washington, D.C., between the D.C. Defenders and the Seattle Dragons, which the Defenders won 35-19. The game was tightly contested for three quarters, until the Defenders broke a 19-19 tie late in the third with a touchdown pass from Cardale Jones to Rashad Ross.

Yes, that is the same Cardale Jones who came out of nowhere and led Ohio State to a national championship in 2014 during the first-ever edition of the College Football Playoff. Jones served as an NFL backup quarterback for a few years and is now a starter in the XFL.

In Saturday’s game, Jones finished with 235 passing yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 116.7.

There was another recognizable name in the first XFL game: former Baylor star and Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams, who now plays for the Dragons. He had four catches for 27 yards and a touchdown.

In Saturday’s second game, the Houston Roughnecks hosted the Los Angeles Wildcats. Houston defeated Los Angeles 37-17. A couple of former NFL players in this game were running backs Elijah Hood, who starts for the Wildcats, and De’Angelo Henderson, who is a backup for the Roughnecks.

Shawn Oakman, a former star defensive player for Baylor, was the Wildcats’ only life defensively. He put up the only sack and only two QB hits LA had for the whole game.

In addition, the backup quarterback for Los Angeles is Jalan McClendon, who spent some time at quarterback for Baylor in 2018, splitting time with Charlie Brewer in a few games that season.

Sunday’s first game, with the New York Guardians hosting the Tampa Bay Vipers, was a blowout. The Guardians won 23-3 and controlled the game throughout. New York quarterback Matt McGloin was a solid backup in the NFL for five years before joining the XFL. He had a passing touchdown as well as a rushing touchdown.

The only road team to win in week one was the St. Louis BattleHawks who went to Dallas and took down the Dallas Renegades 15-9.

BattleHawks quarterback Jacob Ta’amu showed out, completing 20 of 27 passes for over 200 yards and a touchdown. He also had nine rushes for 77 yards. The BattleHawks have a couple of former NFL running backs on the roster in Matt Jones and Christine Michael.

The XFL’s week one was a relative success, as between 15,000 and 20,000 fans showed up for each game. The television ratings for the first game between D.C. and Seattle, which was broadcast on ABC, drew 3.3 million viewers, according to 247sports. The big question now will be whether McMahon’s football league will last longer this time around than it did in 2001.