I’m not sure how many of you paid much mind to the XFL this Winter, but we tried to cover it here and there when it was relevant to some degree. It was the latest attempt to create a second major professional football league in the United States…and those who were on the inside, according to Kevin Seifert, believe that they would have been successful had Vince McMahon not hit the nuke button after the pandemic hit.
Seifert penned a longform article about the rise and fall of the XFL’s second incarnation for ESPN, which delves into a lot of details, and is worth a read if you have the time and the interest in the subject, but one thing worth noting in the piece—which was since edited out for reasons unknown—is a short list of potential targets the league envisioned for its second season.
After the league first hit pause five weeks into their season, they vowed that they would return in 2021, and internally, they were already working on making that happen. One of their biggest goals was rethinking their quarterback recruitment strategy. ‘Bigger’ names like Landry Jones and Matt McGloin had largely flopped, while unknowns like P.J. Walker were taking over the league.
Their goal was to shift more toward searching for the quarterbacks in the NFL who had fallen through the cracks, so to speak, particularly former first-round picks who only had a short window of opportunity to succeed before their team, for whatever reason, moved on.
“We wanted to go to a Josh Rosen, for example”, said director of player personnel Eric Galko, “and say, ‘hey, we know you have talent. You got screwed by circumstances in two different spots. You’re going to get cut by the Dolphins. Don’t go be a backup for the Seattle Seahawks. Come show teams how many players you are better than’”.
For reasons unknown—there is no note of the change—the rest of the quote was cut off from its first publication, but is preserved elsewhere, in which it is mentioned that other quarterbacks on the XFL’s wishlist for 2021 were Robert Griffin III, currently the Baltimore Ravens’ backup, and Paxton Lynch, who will compete for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year.
As I mentioned, there is no reason given for why this was removed from its original publication. Perhaps the source decided that he had given out too much information. Perhaps he was informed that those names were not on the list. The latter seems unlikely, though.
One thing we do know is that the Steelers like perusing these short-lived leagues. They have signed nine former XFL players this offseason. Last year, two players who were in the AAF spent time on the 53-man roster, including J.C. Hassenauer, who is still with the team. Kameron Kelly was on the team for most of the season before being released following an arrest.