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New League Launches, With a Few Twists

XFL debut draws 17,000 football fans
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 9, 2020 9:58 AM CST
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The D.C. Defenders, right, line up against the Seattle Dragons for the opening kickoff of the opening football game of the XFL on Saturday in Washington, D.C.   (AP Photo/Stephen Whyno)

(Newser) – The debut of the new XFL had a punt blocked for a touchdown, a juiced-up crowd roaring for big plays and a player swearing during an in-game television interview. The actual football was hit and miss. College national championship-winning former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones was the biggest star on the field and took the microphone to address fans before the start of a brand-new league, the AP reports. "This is for the love of football," Jones said. "Enjoy." Jones' D.C. Defenders beat the Seattle Dragons 31-19 Saturday afternoon in Washington in the opener of the new XFL that provided plenty of entertainment in person and on TV. It's far too early to tell if the XFL can take a foothold where its previous incarnation and the recently unsuccessful Alliance of American Football failed, but executives are willing to wait and see. The league doesn't have the star power of the NFL, but billionaire Vince McMahon's venture is an attempt to capture hardcore fans in the aftermath of the Super Bowl.

In the opener, a crowd of 17,163 almost filled Audi Field, home of Major League Soccer's D.C. United. "I didn't have real expectations going into the game as far as what the experience was going to be like," Cardale Jones said. "If I did ... they would've been blown away." The broadcast included in-game interviews with a kicker seconds after he missed a field goal attempt. Seattle's Dillon Day dropped an F-bomb that made it to air and went viral. On the field, play was a mix of college and pro style with twists. There was no coin toss, and when Keenan Reynolds fielded the opening kickoff, he did so with everyone else on the field standing still, a rule added for safety. With no extra point kicks, teams had the option of trying one-, two- or three-point conversions, but both coaches Saturday only opted for one-point attempts. "It was definitely an adjustment for some of the stuff," said Seattle's Austin Proehl, son of former NFL receiver Ricky Proehl, who caught the league's first touchdown pass. "It's something we've got to get used to."

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