For the second consecutive year, an upstart football league is looking to fill the post-Super Bowl void.
The retooled, relaunched XFL will kick off this Saturday in Washington, D.C., six days after the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers to close out the 2019 NFL season.
This new XFL won’t be nearly as edgy or inappropriate as the league’s original incarnation in 2001, but it will feature a host of rule changes, ranging from the mundane (25-second play clock rather than 40; two timeouts per half rather than three) to the seismic (optional three-point conversions; a “shootout” overtime format; double forward passes; overhauled kickoff and punt parameters).
The league also will feature more than a dozen players who previously spent time with the New England Patriots, either on their 53-man roster, 90-man roster or practice squad. Each of the XFL’s eight teams features at least one former Patriot, according to the rosters posted on the league’s official website.
Those players include:
Christian Kuntz, LB, Dallas Renegades
Willie Beavers, OT, Dallas Renegades
Nick Brossette, RB, DC Defenders
Scooby Wright, LB, DC Defenders
Toby Weathersby, OL, Houston Roughnecks
Kony Ealy, DE, Houston Roughnecks
Anthony Johnson, LB, Los Angeles Wildcats
Ian Silberman, C, New York Guardians
Taylor Heinicke, QB, St. Louis BattleHawks
Steve Beauharnais, LB, St. Louis BattleHawks
Kenneth Farrow, RB, Seattle Dragons
Martez Ivey, OT, Tampa Bay Vipers
Ryan Davis, WR, Tampa Bay Vipers
Of that group, only Johnson (four appearances) and Beauharnais (two) appeared in a regular-season game for New England.
Ealy is the most notable name on that list. One year after starring in Super Bowl 50 as a member of the Carolina Panthers, he was traded to the Patriots in a pre-draft pick swap but was cut before the end of his first preseason in Foxboro.
Brossette, Wright, Ivey and Davis all were with the Patriots last summer, with Wright later returning for a brief stint on the practice squad.
The 2020 XFL season runs through April 12, followed by two semifinals April 18 and 19 and a championship game April 26. Games will be broadcast on ESPN, FOX, ABC and FS1.
Last year, the Alliance of American Football debuted the weekend after the Super Bowl but folded two months later.