In case you missed the big news on Thursday, WWE chairman Vince McMahon announced in a special press conference that he’s bringing back the XFL. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, the XFL is coming back.
Seventeen years ago, McMahon launched the first iteration of the XFL, as the line between pro wrestling and gridiron football was barely existent. Jim Ross was literally doing play-by-play for some games, the coin toss was replaced with a scramble for the ball, extra points didn’t involve kickers, punting out of bounds was a penalty, and this nonsense was actually a part of a broadcast. Unsurprisingly, the football was bad, and despite strong ratings and initial intrigue, viewership tanked and the league folded after one season. He Hate Me was cool, though.
McMahon’s XFL 2.0 supposedly intends to be very different. If you have a criminal record, even a DUI, you can’t play in the XFL. He wants games to last two hours instead of the usual three in the NFL. “Less stall, more ball” is the mantra. Vince is financing the whole thing himself, also a major difference from XFL 1.0.
With the XFL back in the minds of football fans, I figured now would be a good time to whip out a fun fact concerning the Seattle Seahawks’ ties to the XFL. There were two players on the 2005 NFC Championship winning squad who donned XFL jerseys in 2001.
The first one is definitely the lesser known of the two. Leo Araguz beat out Chris Kluwe to be Seattle’s punter, but his stay was short-lived. Araguz was cut after just four games, and replaced by Tom Rouen.
As for someone who actually stayed with the Seahawks all season, defensive back Kelly Herndon spent two seasons in the Emerald City, and most of my memories of him on the field are negative. Herndon did make what was then the longest interception return in Super Bowl history, picking off Ben Roethlisberger and running it 76 yards to Pittsburgh’s 20, setting up Seattle’s only touchdown of the game. You could say that Kelly was the difference between potentially 21-3 and 14-10.
Counting the postseason, Herndon recorded four interceptions with Seattle, and also returned a botched Kansas City Chiefs field goal for a touchdown in the 2006 season. I best remember him for this absurd whiff on Alex Smith, as he escaped Herndon’s grasp on the corner blitz and threw a dagger touchdown on a night when Seattle could’ve clinched the NFC West.
Herndon’s XFL career was spent on the Las Vegas Outlaws, while Araguz’s team was the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. Araguz was both the punter and placekicker, and last I checked, going 6/16 on field goals is bad. XFL box scores aren’t exactly easy to find, but Las Vegas and New York/New Jersey represented the first game in league history, so for at least one month, so you could say that Araguz and Herndon took part in something historic on the night of February 3rd, 2001. In fact, the whole game can be found in the video below.
The XFL’s targeted relaunch date is January 2020, which is right around the time the Seahawks will be making their march to Super Bowl 54 in Miami.