The XFL is just one of a few leagues that have popped up over the years in the quest to satisfy America’s seemingly undying appetite for football.
Of course, you could argue that hunger is a bit overstated when you consider the first iteration of the XFL folded after less than a season and the second one somehow managed to collapse before wrapping up its rebooted campaign (although you obviously can’t overlook the role the pandemic played in case).
Only time will tell how XFL 3.0 will fare; ratings from its first weekend suggest Dwayne Johnson and Co. are facing an uphill battle when it comes to reviving the league, but it does theoretically have some time to grow.
One of the biggest issues the XFL and similar leagues face is the general lack of notable names or standout talents. With that said, I’d argue a major part of the appeal is giving spectators and viewers the chance to Remember Some Guys (like Paxton Lynch) in the form of former college and NFL players who refuse to stop grinding.
That includes A.J. McCarron, the Alabama product who became a perennial backup quarterback after he was drafted by the Bengals in 2014.
McCarron is currently the starting QB for the St. Louis BattleHawks, and on Thursday night, he helped his team secure a 20-18 victory over the Seattle Sea Dragons.
After the contest, McCarron talked about his decision to take his talents to the XFL despite knowing he likely could have secured another backup job in the NFL for more money.
"I love playing. This is special and I can't thank the XFL enough." Thank you too, @10AJMcCarron 👏 #XFL2023 | @XFLBattlehawks pic.twitter.com/xiMibeTHhk
— XFL (@XFL2023) February 24, 2023
It’s hard to blame him when you hear his explanation:
“Ever since I came out of college I’ve been counted out a little bit. It’s just fun to come out here and play. I miss playing.
Being a backup, that’s a great living. It really is. I absolutely love it, but I love playing. This is special, and I can’t thank the XFL enough.”
He elaborated on that sentiment while speaking with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and emphasized how much getting to play means to him as a father of two kids who never really got to see him play football before the XFL—a message that got Johnson’s seal of approval.
Takes less money signing with us over the @NFL because he wanted his little boys to see him play. Now he’s 2-0 and led his team to back to back exciting last minute wins. I’d say he’s creating some memories for his boys. AJ’s decision means a helluva lot to me, personally. #XFL https://t.co/AZG6EiIy9Z
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) February 24, 2023
I’m not sure how you can’t root for A.J. McCarron now.