Nineteen years after its initial season, the revamped XFL league debuted this past weekend with five former Rebels on rosters.
This past weekend, all eyes of the collective football world were on the debut of the new XFL. The original XFL played just one entertaining season in 2001, but went under due to money issues and contract problems with NBC.
However, 19 years later, Vince McMahon is back with the new XFL, a league that is aimed at serving as a “minor league NFL” of sorts, and a place where alternate gameplay rules can be tested for potential NFL use. Among those rule changes are a newly formatted kickoff, a rule that allows two forward passes in a play, and new game clock rules.
Like the original league, McMahon’s new XFL features 8 teams: Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, St. Louis Battlehawks, Tampa Bay Vipers, New York Guardians, DC Defenders, Dallas Renegades, and Seattle Dragons.
If you don’t have a favorite team yet and don’t live in one of those cities, then let me save you some time by telling you for whom you should cheer.
Five Rebels, 3 Teams
Here are your ONLY options for XFL teams to support–those with former Rebels on the roster:
- St. Louis Battlehawks: QB Jordan Ta’amu, DT Channing Ward
- Tampa Bay Vipers: RG Daronte Bouldin
- Houston Roughnecks: S Trae Elston, LB DeMarquis Gates
You’ve got until Saturday to choose, so get on it.
With that out of the way, let’s look at how these former Rebels did in their XFL debuts this past weekend!
Jordan Ta’amu and Channing Ward
QB Jordan Ta’amu had the best day of any former Rebel, as he led the Battlehawks to a 15-9 upset win over the Dallas Renegades, who had been a -9.5 point favorite over Jordan’s team.
Ta’amu was excellent through the air and on the ground, as he completed 20-27 passes for 207 yards and 1 TD. He also added 9 carries for 77 yards…an outstanding 8.6 YPC. (Click here for the box score.)
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) February 9, 2020
— St. Louis BattleHawks (@XFLBattleHawks) February 10, 2020
Sticking with the Battlehawks, DT Channing Ward tallied 3 total tackles, including one tackle for loss!
Trae Elson and DeMarquis Gates
The next Rebel duo in the XFL is S Trae Elston and LB DeMarquis Gates.
Before we dive into that, I feel obligated to mention the fact that last year Gates played in the AAF league that folded soon after its initial games. While playing with the Memphis Express, Gates tallied 52 tackles and 5 forced fumbles, making him the ALL TIME LEADING TACKLER IN THE HISTORY OF THE AAF.
Now on to the Roughnecks’ game.
Elston and Gates’ Houston team had a commanding 37-17 victory, behind 4 TDs from QB PJ Walker. Elston didn’t record any stats this week, but Gates sure did.
The former Rebel defender tallied 3 total tackles, 1 QB hurry, and also recovered a fumble. You can see Gates in the video below, ball in hand!
MOOD in Houston 🔥
— XFL on FOX (@XFLonFOX) February 9, 2020
I’ve also got to throw this one of Trae Elston in there too because quite frankly it’s so cool.
— Houston Roughnecks (@XFLRoughnecks) January 27, 2020
Last but not least, we’ve got G Daronte Bouldin of the Tampa Bay Vipers. Based on the box score, the Vipers had a productive day on offense. The Vipers tallied 268 yards through the air and rushed for another 150 yards, but they only put three points on the board. Three turnovers and five sacks allowed, combined with a very poor showing from former Georgia QB Aaron Murray, helped the NY Guardians take over the game. The XFL doesn’t have stats for offensive linemen yet, but as I said, it looks like it was a rough day for the Vipers.
Next weekend, and for the eight weekends after that, we get treated to more XFL football.
Bouldin’s Vipers (0-1) take on the Seattle Dragons (0-1) next Saturday at 4pm CT, on Fox.
Then on Sunday evening at 5pm CT, Rebel fans get a real treat, as Ta’amu and Ward’s St. Louis Battlehawks (1-0) take on Elston and Gates’ Houston Roughnecks (1-0).
Tune in to that second game on FS1, as Elston and Gates will be tasked with slowing down Ta’amu, after a great Week 1 performance.