Can you feel that?
The rush of excitement coursing through your veins is because the XFL is coming back...in January 2020.
On Thursday, WWE founder and chairman Vince McMahon announced he would be giving the canceled professional football league another shot. The last iteration of the XFL, which aired on NBC, was plagued by WWE-style gimmicks, poor production, and a ton of bad football. After just one season, the venture folded.
To his credit, McMahon said the new XFL would be gimmick-free and that he, himself, would be the sole source of funding. His initial investment will reportedly come in at around $100 million.
The logistics are as follows: 8 teams, 40-man rosters and a 10-game season beginning in January of 2020. The targeted length of games will be 2 hours or less.
There are also some very specific personal conduct policies. Anyone with a criminal record will not be allowed to join and players won’t be allowed to take any kind of stance on any social issues, including the national anthem.
In his press conference, McMahon said that they are listening to team proposals from any city that wants to make a pitch. He made it clear that the main goal of the league is simple: provide a professional football experience that listens and caters to its fans.
So, which players do those fans want to make a return to the gridiron? There are plenty of retirees and exiles out there, but some of the best options are those that have starred for the Dallas Cowboys, as well as former NFLers that played for a major college football program in the state of Texas.
Here are the top five of those candidates that could make the XFL a success this time around:
Robert Griffin III - QB: Baylor Bears, Washington Redskins (3 seasons), Cleveland Browns (1 season)
Of all the players on this list, Griffin is the one who has most recently played in the NFL. After winning the Heisman Trophy in 2011, the Baylor product was selected No. 2 overall by the Washington Redskins. Like Vince Young, Griffin III won the Rookie-of-the-Year award, and like Young, he, too flamed out early.
The dual-threat signal caller never seemed to recover from an injury suffered in the 2014 season, and after two more seasons with the Redskins and one with the Cleveland Browns, Griffin chose to step away from pro football at age 27. Although, multiple teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals, reportedly extended him offers.
Vince Young - QB: Texas Longhorns, Tennessee Titans (5 seasons), Philadelphia Eagles (1 season)
A Texas Longhorns hero, and then an NFL bust. Young had a prolific college career capped by a legendary performance in the 2005 national title game. Despite winning the 2006 NFL Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year, the Houston native saw his career spiral downward for the next five seasons. After spending 2011 as back-up with the Philadelphia Eagles, the former No. 3 overall pick was out of the league.
Young attempted a comeback in the Canadian Football League in 2017, but it was cut short by a hamstring injury. Still, at age 34, it’s possible he could produce a few good years in the XFL.
Terrell Owens - WR: San Francisco 49ers (8 seasons), Philadelphia Eagles (2 seasons), Dallas Cowboys (3 seasons), Buffalo Bills (1 season), Cincinnati Bengals (1 season)
The first former Cowboy and non-quarterback to make the list, Owens seems like an absolutely perfect candidate for the XFL. Despite his age (42), the six-time Pro Bowler is still in phenomenal shape. During his 15-year career, he was also one of the most productive wideouts in the history of the NFL, ranking second in yards (15,934), third in receiving touchdowns (153) and eighth in receptions (1,078).
Owens hasn’t played a game since 2010. His attitude ensured he never found a permanent landing spot and is the reason he has not been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yet, his swagger, both on and off the field, could serve as a benefit to the rebooted XFL.
Roy Williams-Strong Safety: Dallas Cowboys (7 seasons), Cincinnati Bengals (2 seasons)
Williams is less outspoken than Owens, but he might be the perfect XFL player on the defensive side of the ball. In the early-to-mid 2000’s, back when the league cared far less about pass interference rules and player safety, Williams was the quintessential hard-hitting strong safety.
Selected eighth overall by the Cowboys in the 2000 NFL Draft, the former Oklahoma Sooner made five Pro Bowls, before his inability to defend the passing game made him too much of a liability. In terms of big hits, though, the 37-year-old has the right type of mindset for the XFL.
Johnny Manziel-Quarterback: Texas A&M, Cleveland Browns (2 seasons)
McMahon has already said that because of Manziel’s multiple run-ins with the law and reported struggles with substance-abuse issues, that the 25-year-old won’t be eligible. But if the former Aggie manages to straighten out his life, which is far from a certainty, he’d be another great addition. On Thursday, he indicated his interest on social media.
Despite a whirlwind college career in College Station, which included the 2013 Heisman Trophy, Johnny Football had plenty of promise. After being selected No. 22 overall by the Cleveland Browns, he managed to party his way out of the league. In his two brief seasons in the NFL, Manziel played in just 14 games before he was cut for disciplinary reasons in March of 2016.
Immediately following his release, not a single team claimed him off of waivers.