By Chelsea McBay
The NFL season came to a close, crowning the Kansas City Chiefs as the cream of the crop. Fans of football started looking longingly towards the NFL Combine and Draft as the highlights of the slow-paced off-season.
Well, put those mock drafts away for now because the XFL season has started.
The XFL is a spring professional football league founded by WWE owner Vince McMahon. The commissioner of the league is Oliver Luck, a longtime sports executive who’s the father of former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
The inaugural season kicked off last weekend, February 8 and 9. There are eight teams that comprise the XFL — the Seattle Dragons, DC Defenders, LA Wildcats, Houston Roughnecks, Tampa Bay Vipers, New York Defenders, St. Louis Battlehawks, and Dallas Renegades.
Each weekend there are four games played. The season lasts from February 8 to April 12, until the playoffs start.
The first game was the Seattle Dragons against the DC Defenders. The first touchdown ever scored in the history of the XFL was written into the books by wide receiver Austin Proehl. He caught a 14-yard pass from quarterback Brandon Silvers.
Proehl scored again later in the game. He caught a 57-yard touchdown from Silvers. He was the player of the game and has major in-state ties. Proehl played his college ball at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is also the son of Ricky Proehl, who had an amazing NFL career as a wideout over the course of 17 seasons. He played his college ball at Wake Forest and has both played and coached for the Carolina Panthers.
The younger Proehl was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has some legitimate NFL experience, which he is using to further his career in the XFL. When talking about his XFL career, he said “I’m going to pursue [my dream] with all I’ve got. I want to play ball. I know God’s got a plan for me, and I know his plan for me is to be here right now,” according to XFL.com writer Mason Kelley.
The final score of the game was 31-19, with DC taking the victory.
Looking at another match-up, the LA Wildcats versus the Houston Roughnecks, we saw Houston dominate. Starting quarterback P.J. Walker went 23-of-39 for 272 yards, four scores, and one interception against LA.
Looking at local players, the Roughnecks boast the likes of cornerback Deji Olatoye, who played his college ball at NC A&T.
The Wildcats have a very familiar player from the Tarheel State. Former UNC star Elijah Hood started at running back in this game. He had 12 carries for 43 yards. He also had a spectacular hurdle over cornerback Jeremiah Johnson in the game.
The Roughnecks beat the Wildcats by a score of 37-17.
On Sunday, two matchups were featured. The first was the Tampa Bay Vipers at the New York Guardians. NY feasted on the Vipers scoring two offensive touchdowns, a field goal, and a defensive TD. A familiar name, QB Matt McGloin, had a rushing and a passing touchdown for the Guardians. He played for the (then) Oakland Raiders in the NFL previously and was a standout gunslinger at Penn State.
He clearly wants to show that he can still play some high-quality ball here in the XFL. He said, “I definitely want to prove to myself that I still belong, I still can play well, that I still can lead a team and generate points and win football games,” according to northjersey.com. He proved he still can.
The Guardians beat the Vipers, 23-3.
The last game of the weekend was the St. Louis Battlehawks facing off against the Dallas Renegades. A familiar name was spotted on Dallas’ sideline — RB Cameron Artis-Payne. He played for the Carolina Panthers for five seasons but was never able to garner a starting role. He is now the starter for the Renegades.
Though his NFL career didn’t pan out the way he wanted, “the potential was always there,” according to SI’s Schuyler Callihan. Artis-Payne is hoping to be able to use this time in the XFL to catapult him back into the NFL.
The Battlehawks beat the Renegades, 15-9.
This league gives fans something to appease their football appetites. With some decent talent to watch and some appealing teams to cheer for, the XFL offers fans quality spring football. The next week of games kicks off this Saturday, February 15 at 2:00 p.m.