As we’ve reported over the last two days, it looks like the XFL is done once again. Despite that, the inaugural season of the rebooted league was highly enjoyable, and gave us some incredible moments. In no particular order, these are my top five:
First XFL Touchdown
The first game of the brand new XFL 2020 season saw the DC Defenders host the Seattle Dragons. The game started well, as the fans immediately took to some of the new rules, not least the kick off return rules.
We didn’t have to wait too long for the first XFL 2020 touchdown either as Brandon Silvers fired a pass into the arms of receiver Austin Proehl who bundled his way into the endzone. Immediately after, we got to see the new system for a PAT in action.
The first touchdown, in that moment, felt totally momentous. It felt as though it would go down in history as the moment the XFL arrived. It very well still might, but hopes are dwindling.
St Louis Fans welcome football back to the city
St Louis, Missouri, came out in force to support the Battlehawks in their home opener as just shy of 30,000 fans welcomed their new team to the Dome at America’s Centre.
The city had been deprived of pro football since the Rams moved back to Los Angeles in 2018. At the game, the St Louis natives showed their disdain for Rams owner Stan Kroenke, with some even burning an effigy of the man who also owns Arsenal FC.
Inside the arena, the players came out to a wall of noise and an incredible spectacle as St Louis welcomed football back to their city. The flags were waving and the noise was electrifying. You can view one fans’ experience of it below.
PJ Walker sidearm TD to Cam Phillips
From the word go, Houston Roughnecks QB PJ Walker had an incredible link up with his star receiver Cam Phillips. That was evident from the first drive of the first game as the pair linked up for a 50 yard touchdown.
As the season progressed, their partnership only progressed. Walker and Phillips presided over the best offence in the league by a country mile. In their five games, Walker threw 15 touchdowns – which is more than most teams managed – and nine of them landed in the arms of his favourite target, Cam Phillips.
This particular moment came in week two and it pretty much sums up their relationship. The play looks a bust, but then Walker somehow manages to find Phillips in the endzone with an incredible sidearm pass. It came in the second week of the season as the Roughnecks hosted St Louis. Watch it below.
St Louis Kick-Off return TD
This one is my favourite moment of the whole season. It came in week three of the season as the Battlehawks welcomed the New York Guardians to St Louis. Plenty had been made of the new kick off rules and how it would lead to more entertainment and possibly more kick offs returned for touchdowns – this was the first.
Keith Mumphery caught the kick off, feigned to return it left and laterals the ball to Joe Powell. He looked up, saw a hole, and absolutely tore through it like a bullet from a gun.
Powell flew down the right flank, avoiding tackle after tackle. For a second it looked as though he stepped out of play, but that wasn’t the case. As he got to the end zone, he was eventually tackled, but it was too late as he fell into the scoring zone to create what we assumed was a moment of history.
If there is anything from the XFL that I’d like to see live on as its legacy, it’s the re-imagined kick off return rules. It made kick offs both safer and more entertaining. It’s far better than the NFL’s solution which was to just move the kick off position forward, increasing the chances of a touchback.
DC Defenders CRAZY flea flicker TD
This is probably the craziest play any of the teams ran during the five weeks of XFL football we enjoyed. It came courtesy of DC Defenders QB Cardale Jones and receiver Khari Lee.
First up, Jones dumped the ball off to Donnel Pumphrey who laid it to Eli Rogers who then flicked it back to Jones. The Defenders QB, without hesitation, launched an inch perfect pass over the defence into the hands of Lee who ran down the right flank for a 39 yard touchdown.
This was another play from a storming XFL opener back in February. It looked so good at that point. Damn Coronavirus…