We’ve made it, 2020 has finally come to a conclusion. The year started out full of excitement as we all anticipated the return of the XFL on Feb 8th. Little did we know that just halfway through the season the new league would be faced with a pandemic, forcing the suspension of the season. It wasn’t far after the suspension that we learned that the league would be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and would release most of its staff, including the CEO and Commissioner Oliver Luck. Many praised Luck for his work with the XFL, even going as far to say that the league would not have been the success it was without him at the helm. We tend to agree.
Although the XFL was unable to complete its inaugural season, it did make quite the impact. This was not the XFL of 2001, this was good, quality football… with a huge focus on fan engagement. The good news is, the league is not gone. When it seemed that all hope was lost on the XFL we learned that the league had been purchased out of bankruptcy by Dany Garcia, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and RedBird Capitol. The dream was still alive. With the XFL now planning a return to the gridiron in 2022, there’s a lot of work to be done.
While we’re waiting for more XFL news, we wanted to let your voices be heard with our annual ‘The Year in the XFL’ fan poll. Let’s see what y’all had to say and look at the best (and worst) moments of the 2020 XFL season.
Favorite XFL Team – St. Louis BattleHawks
This should come as no surprise, the St. Louis BattleHawks have been a fan favorite since the host cities were announced on December 5th 2018. This made sense, as St. Louis was the only XFL city without a local NFL franchise. The enthusiasm also translated into ticket sales, making the BattleHawks the most attended host city in 2020. In fact, the BattleHawks were on pace to sell over 50,00 tickets for its week 7 matchup against the Los Angeles Wildcats.
For the second year in a row, the St. Louis BattleHawks have come out on top as your favorite XFL team in our ‘This Year in the XFL’ fan poll.
Best XFL Team – Houston Roughnecks
Although this wasn’t an option in our poll it would be silly if we didn’t mention the best performing team in the XFL. That is, of course, the undefeated Houston Roughnecks. Under the leadership of June Jones, the Roughnecks were able to take the league by storm. The team led the league in passing yards, touchdowns and like we mentions were undefeated with a record of 5-0. Had the season continued, it looks like Houston was on course to take the championship. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we never got to see the outcome of the season or the playoffs. When the Roughnecks return in 2022 they may be without their star quarterback, but it seems that June Jones is on board to return if he is asked.
Favorite XFL Logo – St. Louis BattleHawks
Normally we’d chalk this up to the sheer fandom of the BattleHawks fans, but there’s more to this than meets the eye. For instance, if you flip the logo upside-down it spells out ‘STL’. Additionally, the ‘T’s in Battle form a pi logo, which symbolizes area code for St. Louis (314).
Beyond all that, the logo is pretty sharp (pun partially intended) and is just a very clean design. There’s no denying that regardless of fandom, the BattleHawks did well when designing this logo.
This is another two-time winner and it totally makes sense. I mean, come on… ‘Raising Hell’ is pretty darn cool. Prior to the 2020 season there were a lot of eyes on the Dallas Renegades. They were set to be led by Bob Stoops, with Landry Jones back under his wing. If for some chance you don’t know who Bob Stoops is, well he’s the winningest coach in college football history. Not to mention, he’s the only coach to play in every bowl game… and win.
We’re getting off track here though, the slogan for The Renegades encompassed the vibe of the team. This is another back-to-back fan choice that we can’t a reason to disagree with.
Favorite XFL Venue – Audi Field (DC Defenders)
To be honest, we were a little surprised at this pick. After thinking about it, it started to make perfect sense. With a capacity of 20,000 seats, this was possibly the best sized venue for the XFL. It was also home of the first XFL game of the 2020 season with the DC Defenders hosting the Seattle Dragons. Beyond that, the fan base came out to have fun. One of the re-occurring events throughout the shortened XFL season was the DC Defenders ‘Beer Snake’. Each week the fans would show up… and each week the beer snake would grow in size. In fact, in week 5, then Commissioner Oliver Luck came out to contribute to the Beer Snake.
GET YOU A LEAGUE COMMISSIONER WHO CONTRIBUTES A CUP TO THE GIANT BEER SNAKE.
Whether it’s the venue, the fans or just the beer snake we’re on board with this pick. When the XFL returns in 2022, we want to see the DC Defenders at home with the beer snake larger than ever before in the stands.
In the Roughnecks first game against the Los Angeles Wildcats, Walker tossed four touchdowns, helping the team win a 37–17 victory. Due to his performance, he was named the league’s first ever Star of the Week. After the week five game against the Seattle Dragons, Walker had 1,338 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.
Walker’s final game of the 2020 campaign was marked by some controversy, while his team was leading the Seattle Dragons 32–23, he mistakenly kneeled on fourth down at his own 21-yard-line with three seconds remaining on the clock – officials either failed to notice or refused to deal with Walker’s palpable timing error and declared the game over, thus depriving Seattle the opportunity to score a touchdown and potential three-point conversion to tie the game. The league later admitted it was a mistake, but declared that the result would stand.
There’s no doubt that PJ Walker made a name for himself in the XFL and is deserving of this honor. Looking back at the XFL prior to kickoff, all eyes were on Dallas. Little did they know, the real action was happening just a few hours south in Houston. Since his time in the XFL Walker has gone on to sign on with the Carolina Panthers, going as far as starting for the team and securing a win against the Detroit Lions.
Favorite XFL Announce Team – FOX (Curt Menefee/Joel Klatt)
In another pick that shouldn’t surprise anyone, Curt Menefee and Joel Klatt has taken the top spot amongst the fans. During the season, FOX seemed to be a fna favorite due to their professional presentation, including the graphics, camera work and announce teams. Menefee and Klatt were the A-team for FOX, presenting only the top XFL games of the week. With the XFL retuning in 2022, TV deals are still a mystery. We’re hoping that when the l;eague does hit the field again that FOX is onboard once again with these two behind the booth.
Best Play of 2020 XFL Season – PJ Walker Sidearm Pass
Let’s set the stage… Two of the leagues top teams in Houston and St. Louis meet in week 2 in a close matchup. Early in the game the BattleHawks would take the lead and even force the Roughnecks to settle for a field goal. Cue PJ Walker and Cam Phillips AKA Walkers favorite receiver. Only down 3, PJ Walker dodeges all players aiming to take him down, only to throw a Mahomes-esc side-arm pass for the touchdown.
I believe this is the moment that every XFL fan knew that PJ Walker was going to be a superstar. Had the season not ended abruptly, there’s no doubt that PJ Walker would have been the MVP.
Worst Moment of 2020 XFL Season – XFL Suspends Season/Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Are you surprised? Of course this is the worst moment of the season! When all things were looking up for the XFL, COVID-19 entered our lives and ended the season just halfway through. The rumors started after week five had wrapped up when it was revealed that workers at CenturyLink Stadium had contracted COVID-19, which at the time led the league to announce that the game would be held without fans. That was… until the NBA, NHL, NCAA and MLS had all suspended or cancelled gameplay. The writing was on the wall at that point, we all knew what was coming. The XFL had officially suspended its season on March 20th in a letter to all season ticket holders.
At the time, the plan was to focus on 2021, but unfortunately things took a turn for the worse. Just a few short weeks later we learned that the XFL would officially be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, immediately laying off most of its staff. The XFL social media account sent out one last tweet that will be remembered by XFL fans for years to come.
Best Moment of 2020 XFL Season – Dany Garcia, The Rock and RedBird Capitol Purchase XFL
If the worst moment was the XFL closing its doors, then it only makes sense that the best moment would be that the league had been purchased. Throughout the rocky history of the XFL there’s always been one constant, Vince McMahon. Some people love him, other despise him; regardless you must admit that the guy is one hell of a business man. With McMahon out of the picture, the XFL would need a group that could carry that weight… and that’s exactly what happened. August 3rd, it was revealed that not only was the XFL bought out of bankruptcy, but that the new ownership team is comprised of Dany Garcia, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and RedBird Capitol.
Jeffrey Pollack, XFL President and one of the few staff members to stay on with the XFL during its bankruptcy had this to say about the sale:
This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and an awesome new start for the XFL. Dany, Dwayne and Gerry are a dream team ownership group and the XFL is in the best possible hands for the exciting journey ahead.”
Hollywood ending is right! Leading up the sale there were a lot of rumors floating around, but nobody expected a blockbuster deal like this go down. With the talent involved in this new business venture it’s hard to see how the XFL could fail. Granted, there’s a lot of work to be done and just a little over a year to get it done. Either way you look at it, we’re just happy that the XFL will be returning.
What were your favorite moments of the 2020 XFL season? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.