Oct 17, 2019

Building the XFL (again)

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The 2-day XFL draft concluded yesterday, with each of the league's 8 teams having put together their initial rosters.

How it worked: Before the actual draft, teams ranked which "Tier One" QB they wanted via a blind-bidding system, then those 8 players were assigned accordingly.

Once the draft began, players were picked in this order: skill positions, offensive linemen, defensive front seven and defensive backfield. Then there was an "open" portion, where teams could draft any player they wanted.

  • The broadcast of the draft was … kind of sad. Instead of a studio show, it was literally a video conference call with a stopwatch in the bottom right corner of the screen that someone had to manually reset with a mouse after every pick.

Dallas Renegades

  • Coach: Oklahoma legend Bob Stoops.
  • QB: Landry Jones, who played for Stoops in college and spent 5 seasons (2013-17) as Ben Roethlisberger's backup in Pittsburgh.
  • Guy you might know: WR Tommylee Lewis, who was the intended receiver on the infamous Saints-Rams no-call in last year's NFC Championship Game.

DC Defenders

  • Coach: Former Colts and Michigan OC Pep Hamilton.
  • QB: Cardale Jones, the strong-armed former Buckeye who was drafted by the Bills in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL draft.
  • Guy you might know: Safety Rahim Moore, who started for the Broncos for a few years.

Houston Roughnecks

  • Coach: Former Hawaii and SMU head coach June Jones.
  • QB: Connor Cook, who starred at Michigan State and started a playoff game for the Raiders in 2017.
  • Guy you might know: RB Andre Williams, who starred at Boston College and had a breakout rookie campaign for the Giants in 2014.

Los Angeles Wildcats

  • Coach: Former Packers associate head coach Winston Moss.
  • QB: Luis Perez, who won the Harlon Hill Trophy in 2017 as the best player in D-II football and spent some time with the Eagles and Lions after playing well for the AAF’s Birmingham Iron.
  • Guy you might know: Kicker Nick Novak, who kicked for 6 different NFL teams and ranks 94th on the league's all-time scoring list.

New York Guardians

  • Coach: Longtime Giants OC Kevin Gilbride.
  • QB: Former Penn State star Matt McGloin, who notched 7 NFL starts as a Raider.
  • Guy you might know: QB Marquise Williams, who put up huge passing and rushing numbers at North Carolina before spending time in the NFL, CFL and AAF.

Seattle Dragons

  • Coach: Former Seahawks QB and Redskins head coach Jim Zorn.
  • QB: Brandon Silvers, who threw for more than 10,000 yards during his college career at Troy and spent time on this Jets' roster this past spring.
  • Guy you might know: QB/WR Keenan Reynolds, who ran Navy's option attack to great success in college and was one of the Seahawks' final cuts in September (as a WR).

St. Louis BattleHawks

  • Coach: Former Bengals TE coach Jonathan Hayes.
  • QB: Former Ole Miss starter Jordan Ta'amu, who led the SEC in passing last season and signed a contract with the Texans before being released in August.
  • Guy you might know: RB Christine Michael, who was supposed to be a fantasy star for the Seahawks but never really panned out.

Tampa Bay Vipers

  • Coach: Former Bears head coach Marc Trestman.
  • QB: Former Georgia star Aaron Murray, who still sits atop the SEC's career TD list and spent a few seasons bouncing around the NFL.
  • Guy you might know: RB De'Veon Smith, who enjoyed a decent career at Michigan.'

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Following a World Series that defied everything we know about home-field advantage, order appears to have been restored to the universe in one fell swoop.

What happened: On Sunday, NFL home teams not only won all 11 games, but they also went 11-0 against the spread. (Meanwhile, the Texans beat the Jaguars in London).

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Alabama and LSU's matchup is hyped as the "Game of the Century"

llustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The LSU Tigers visit the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday in the first regular-season AP No. 1 vs. No. 2 meeting since their game eight years ago.

Why it matters: Interestingly enough, the very thing they helped birth — a system where humans, not computers, rank the nation's best teams — has LSU and Alabama at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the playoff rankings.

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NFL players weigh health against career threats

Photo: Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images.

The recent medical struggles of three NFL players highlight the delicate balance of athletes' health and their careers.

Driving the news: In October, former New York Jets guard Kelechi Osemele filed an injury grievance against his team for an outstanding shoulder issue. After he refused to practice and underwent unauthorized surgery to address the issue, going against the team's opinion, the Jets released Osemele. He was stuck with fines of up to $579,000 each week, ESPN reports.

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