When the XFL returns, you’ll see a couple familiar faces patrolling the sidelines. The league announced its eight head coaches for its 2023 return, and two of them are ex-Steelers: Hines Ward and Rod Woodson. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert shared the news a short time ago.
It’s an interesting list of eight names, representing former NFL players like Ward, Woodson, Buckley, and Becht along with former NFL head coaches like Wade Phillips and Jim Haslett and college coaches like Bob Stoops.
Ward has been involved in coaching since his playing days ended. He spent a summer as a Steelers’ interim coach, working with JuJu Smith-Schuster during his first camp in 2017. He served as an assistant coach for the New York Jets in 2019 and 2020 and most recently worked in a similar capacity at Florida Atlantic. He was even interviewed for the Houston Texans’ head coaching job, though it ultimately went to a more experienced candidate in Lovie Smith. Now, Ward will lead an XFL team.
Woodson also got into coaching, primarily serving as the Raiders’ DB coach across the mid and late 2010s. Woodson knows a thing or two about the position, a Hall of Famer with a whopping 71 interceptions.
League co-owner and Chairwoman Dany Garcia released a statement on the eight hires.
“Our head coaches are a diverse group of leaders, champions and hall of famers with experience competing and coaching at the highest level in football. Not only will they be mentors to our players, but they are also ambassadors of the XFL as we work together to build tomorrow’s league. What is most exciting about our talented coaches is that they all share our vision for the XFL and are committed to advancing the game of football for players and making it into a must-watch program for fans. The XFL is anchored in the belief of opportunity, and, just like our players, these football legends will drive the future of the game.”
As that ESPN tweet indicates, the new XFL is being led by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Garcia with plans for the league to come back next year. The league attempted a comeback in 2020 but lasted just five weeks, shutdown as the COVID pandemic hit the United States. Now, it’s slated to return in February of 2023.
No official word yet on the teams Ward, Woodson, and the others will be coaching. Recent years have seen new (or old) football leagues spring back up. The USFL kicks off this weekend with the Pittsburgh Maulers being led by former Steelers’ RB coach Kirby Wilson.