Suffering from football withdrawal or post-Super Bowl depression? Well, you’re in luck.
Less than a week after the end of the NFL’s 100th season comes the return of the XFL. The Vince McMahon-backed football league kicks off Saturday, and its eight teams feature some players you’re sure to recognize.
Here are 10 names that stand out:
Cardale Jones, QB, DC Defenders
Jones is perhaps the biggest name on any XFL roster. A former fourth-round NFL draft pick, the quarterback won the 2014 national championship with the Ohio State Buckeyes and will once again don red and white with the DC Defenders.
Jones is known for his big arm, but he didn’t get to showcase it in the NFL. He appeared in just one game, spending most of his pro career as a backup with the Buffalo Bills or behind Philip Rivers with the Los Angeles Chargers.
He’ll get to start for the Defenders, with 6-foot-7 passer Tyree Jackson backing him up.
Josh Johnson, QB, Los Angeles Wildcats
The Los Angeles Wildcats quarterback is the early favorite for XFL MVP.
The Washington Redskins signed Johnson late in the 2018 season when their quarterbacks were dropping like flies, and the Detroit Lions brought him in during the 2019 preseason.
Johnson joined Los Angeles in the XFL’s supplemental draft in November. The Wildcats blocked the Lions from signing him when Matthew Stafford suffered a back injury, which underscores the demand for his services.
Christine Michael, RB, St. Louis BattleHawks
Ah, the fantasy football darling. At some point, you or someone you know was advised to stash Michael.
The former second-round pick never lived up to his billing. He spent parts of four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks before short stints with the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts.
The St. Louis BattleHawks made Michael their first-round pick, hoping he’ll make good on his last chance to prove fantasy analysts right.
Antonio Callaway, WR, Tampa Bay Vipers
The Cleveland Browns released the oft-troubled receiver after he earned a second suspension during the 2019 NFL season. He was expected to get a second chance when he landed with the Tampa Bay Vipers, but the team placed him on injured reserve with a leg injury last week.
It’s not yet known how the league’s injured reserve works, but Vipers head coach Marc Trestman discussed Callaway in the past tense when he said, “we were excited to have him with us.”
If he does return during the XFL season, he’ll be one of the league’s must-watch athletes.
Bob Stoops, Coach/GM, Dallas Renegades
The legendary Oklahoma coach is putting the headset back on.
Stoops’ 18-year stint with the Sooners included a national title win in 2000, 10 Big 12 championships, and an appearance in the 2008 BCS Championship game.
He hasn’t coached since 2016, but he’ll wear both coach and GM hats for the Dallas Renegades.
Sammie Coates, WR, Houston Roughnecks
Coates played in a Pittsburgh Steelers offense that included Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell, and he was a member of the 2016 team that lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC title game.
That was the peak of Coates’ NFL career. He was traded to the Browns the following September and only caught seven more passes in the league before his release from the Kansas City Chiefs in May 2019.
The former third-round pick should be the leading receiving threat for the Houston Roughnecks.
Shawn Oakman, DE, Los Angeles Wildcats
The Wildcats drafted, released, and later re-signed the gargantuan defensive end once listed at 6-foot-9, 280 pounds.
Oakman, a Baylor product, was accused of sexual assault days ahead of the 2016 NFL Draft and was found not guilty in February 2019. He’ll get his pro football chance with Los Angeles.
Landry Jones, QB, Dallas Renegades
Jones reunites with Stoops as the Renegades’ starting quarterback.
A four-year starter at Oklahoma, Jones parlayed his collegiate career into a five-year stint as Roethlisberger’s backup with the Steelers.
The now-30-year-old suffered a left knee injury in early January and was originally expected to miss four-to-six weeks. The Renegades hope he’ll be available for Sunday’s opener against the BattleHawks.
Marquette King, P, St. Louis BattleHawks
King and his big leg first arrived on the scene with the Oakland Raiders. Then he started dancing on the field.
King signed a five-year, $16-million extension with the Raiders in 2016 and was a second-team All-Pro that year. But he was out of the league by 2018 following a short stint with the Denver Broncos. Teams just wouldn’t put up with such antics from a punter.
Perhaps he’ll find the right audience in the XFL.
Will Hill, S, St. Louis BattleHawks
The former NFL safety gets a chance to revive his career in St. Louis.
Hill split four seasons between the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens, but he was suspended on three separate occasions for either performance-enhancing drugs or substance abuse violations.
Four years removed from the game, Hill considers himself a changed man.