For the new XFL and the New York Guardians, the two-year runway to kickoff is winding down. A venture that started on January 25th, 2018 with an announcement by Vince McMahon that he would be bringing the XFL back in February of 2020 is now just a little over two months away from reality. The Guardians will open their inaugural season on Sunday February 9th against the Tampa Bay Vipers at MetLife Stadium, but in recent days business for the team and the league has really started to pick up.
Last week, the XFL unveiled its game ball…or should I say game balls, a personalized football for each of the eight teams in the new league. On Tuesday night, the uniforms and the helmets for the eight teams were revealed.
“We’re thrilled that both our players and our fans are having a positive reaction to it,” said Guardians President Janet Duch. “For us, the entire organization is eager to see them live on the field on February 9th but I think more importantly we feel that the uniform really has this bold striking color scheme and design that really reflects this region and has a bit of attitude and resilience to it.”
The uniforms, manufactured by Custom Outfitters, feature the Guardians primary colors of black, gray and red. The home jersey has a black body and sleeves, gray shoulder inserts trimmed with red striping, embroidered Guardian sleeve patches and front neckplate and embroidered Guardian team name. The away jersey has a gray body and sleeves, black shoulder inserts trimmed with red striping, embroidered Guardian sleeve patches and front neckplate and embroidered Guardian team name.
The Guardians helmet, made by Riddell, is black and is inspired by the team’s brand identity, colors and primary logo.
“We’re a New York team playing in the tri-state region,” said Duch. “We want our name, our brand, our uniforms and all of our touch points to reflect the fabric of this city. We’re defining what the XFL will be about and certainly what it means to be a Guardian.”
With everything now in place, it’s starting to get very real for the new XFL and New York/New Jersey’s newest professional football franchise. The Guardians, led by General Manager and Head Coach Kevin Gilbride, reported for minicamp on Tuesday and they will take the field for the first time this Thursday at the team’s official practice facility Superdome Sports in Waldwick, New Jersey.
“The organization on the business side is thrilled to have football operations and our players in market,” said Duch. “We’re excited to introduce our fans to our players. Each one of these players has a unique story.”
Notable players on the Guardians roster include former Penn State and NFL quarterback Matt McGloin, former Jets fullback Tommy Bohanon, former Purdue and Jets wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey and wide receiver Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, a player that received national attention for talking his way into training camp with the Cleveland Browns this past summer and scoring a touchdown on an 86-yard punt return.
QB Matt McGloin (14) and WR DeAngelo Yancey (11)
There are also some players on the roster that played for area colleges like offensive lineman Anthony Coyle (Fordham), defensive end George Johnson (Rutgers), linebacker Darnell Leslie (Monmouth), defensive lineman Victor Ochi (Stony Brook) and tight end Jake Powell (Monmouth).
Between now and December 17th, the Guardians will hold weekday practices at Superdome Sports but will also have weekend practices at West Point Military Academy that will be open to select fans. That’s just part of the plan as the Guardians continue to build a fan base.
“We want to be about access,” said Duch. “Now that we do have players in market, we want to go and tell their story. We’re bringing a select group of fans to West Point so they can see the game and the practice up close.”
The mini-camp schedule concludes on Saturday night December 17th with “An Evening With XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck” at MetLife Stadium. Media and select fans will be invited to a town hall style event that will be hosted by ESPN’s Dianna Russini who is going to be a part of ESPN’s XFL game day coverage.
Unlike the original XFL in 2001 that launched with a one-year runway, the new league has done things the right way this time around.
With a two-year countdown to launch, the league has been able to strategically and successfully roll out all of the components such as markets, venues, rules, General Manager/Head Coaches, Team Presidents, player pool selection, team names, and drafts with a systematic approach led by Commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck along with President and COO Jeffrey Pollack. The league also has an impressive television arrangement with ABC/ESPN and Fox/Fox Sports One that will have every XFL game shown on national television.
Is it finally time for a professional spring football league to be successful?
With the way that the new XFL has gone about its business, the answer to that question could very well be yes. There are so many talented players, who just miss out on making NFL rosters, that need a stage to perform on and to get better. For some players in the XFL, this could be an opportunity to finally reach the NFL or to get back to the highest level of football in the United States. For some of the players, it’s an opportunity to continue playing the sport that they love in some great venues and on national television.
“There is definitely a strategy here of how the league and the teams are rolling out communication,” said Duch. “We’re building our fan bases and the pieces are coming together.”
And from a local standpoint, the Guardians are offering local football fans something to look forward to this February. It hasn’t been a great NFL season for Jets and Giants fans but there is now a distinctive buzz about the Guardians kicking off. There’s an unmistakable excitement about a new franchise that begins play with a clean slate.
The Guardians expect to play an excitement brand of XFL re-imagined football and if the ball and the uniforms are any indication, it’s going to look really good.