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Seattle Sea Dragons to be quarterbacked by one-time Cowboys starter Ben DiNucci

NFL: AUG 26 Preseason - Seahawks at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This weekend marks the launch of XFL 3.0, as well as the return of the Seattle Sea Dragons. Why yes, last year they were the Seattle Dragons, but now they’re the Sea Dragons!

Before they take on the D.C. Defenders on Sunday evening, you probably want to know who the team’s starting quarterback. Unlike Brandon Silvers, this quarterback actually has some NFL regular season experience. In fact, you’ve seen him compete against the Seattle Seahawks in the preseason last August!

I’m talking about former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Ben DiNucci, who started one regular season game in 2020 in a loss against the Philadelphia Eagles. When I said he was a one-time starter I was being quite literal! He and A.J. McCarron are the only XFL starting quarterbacks with any prior NFL regular season playing time.

Backing up DiNucci will be former Colorado quarterback Steven Montez, a name familiar to those who closely followed the Pac-12. The third-string quarterback is Harrison Frost out of West Georgia, but he’ll be inactive for Sunday.

For DiNucci, a James Madison University alum, this is like a homecoming for him and he told the Seattle Times how much it meant to be the starter.

“Starting on Sunday football, it probably doesn’t get much bigger than that,” said DiNucci, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area and will have about 40 family members and friends rooting for him Sunday in Washington, D.C. “So for me, in a way it feels like another game, but it’s been a few years so this will definitely be special to get to lead a group of guys.”

DiNucci will run offensive coordinator June Jones’ famed run-and-shoot system, which he believes best suits his style of play.

“I think the run-and-shoot fits perfectly for me because I am a guy who’s going be able to extend plays and make some plays with his legs,” DiNucci said. “I’ve got a big arm and can put the ball where it needs to be. June and coach Haslett have harped on me: ‘Hey, use those things. You’ve got a bunch of tools that a lot of other guys don’t.’”

I know the XFL and USFL are unlikely to produce anything resembling NFL-esque quality football. Personally, I don’t really care. I don’t expect the ECHL to look like the best of the NHL, or Double-A baseball to be MLB caliber, or the G-League to be as good as a typical NBA game. If the product is fun, different, and watchable it can be at least casual viewing for real diehard football fans, and I really want to see these lower leagues to succeed if only to provide players who aren’t on NFL rosters a chance to still play professional football.

Are we going to have a Sea Dragons-Defenders open thread? Damn right we are! Check in at 5 PM PT on Sunday night on ESPN to see if Jim Haslett’s team can get off to a winning start.