XFL announces teams for 2023 reboot; Washington is among them

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When the XFL returns in February, so, too, will spring football in the nation’s capital.

On Sunday night, ahead of the league’s third iteration, the XFL announced the cities and venues where its eight teams will play and the head coaches assigned to those clubs. The list includes Washington, which will be coached by Reggie Barlow, a former NFL wide receiver and returner who led Virginia State from 2016 to 2021. The unnamed D.C. team will play its games at Audi Field, the league announced.

“To the fans in D.C. — we’re coming back,” Barlow said in a statement released by the XFL. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to have an opportunity to coach a team in the D.C. area. Our XFL team is going to play with a lot of passion, and we are looking forward to being a part of this great city. It’s going to be really exciting, and we already know you guys are going to show up and get loud for us.”

The league also will have teams in Arlington, Tex. (at Choctaw Stadium, coached by Bob Stoops), Houston (TDECU Stadium, Wade Phillips), Las Vegas (venue to be announced, Rod Woodson), Orlando (Camping World Stadium, Terrell Buckley), San Antonio (Alamodome, Hines Ward), Seattle (Lumen Field, Jim Haslett) and St. Louis (The Dome at America’s Center, Anthony Becht).

Barlow left Virginia State in March to join the XFL. Before leading VSU, he was the head coach at his alma mater, Alabama State, from 2007 to 2014.

The league announced several coaching and front-office positions for each team in June, but it didn’t specify where each group would coach. Barlow’s staff includes defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, offensive coordinator/running backs coach Fred Kaiss, director of player personnel Von Hutchins and director of team operations Stacie Johnson.

Williams, a former head coach of the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns, was the defensive coordinator of Washington’s NFL team from 2004 to 2007 and most recently was the New York Jets’ defensive coordinator in 2019 and 2020. Kaiss coached with Barlow at Alabama State. Hutchins, selected in the sixth round of the 2004 NFL draft, played defensive back for the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.

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In February 2020, the DC Defenders hosted the first game of XFL 2.0, providing an alternative for the dwindling fan base of Washington’s NFL franchise. The Defenders averaged more than 16,000 fans in three games at Audi Field and went 3-2 in the shortened season, with all three wins coming in front of their raucous home crowd.

“I’ve played a lot of football in the NFL, high school, college or whatever, but these fans are different,” safety Rahim Moore said after the team’s fifth and ultimately final game. “I don’t know if the XFL is paying these dudes to be this loud, but the energy is just crazy.”

That version of the XFL, owned by wrestling magnate Vince McMahon, shut down in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The next month, the league filed for bankruptcy and sought a sale. That August, McMahon’s former WWE star, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, bought the league for $15 million along with his business partner and ex-wife, Dany Garcia, and investment firm RedBird Capital Partners.

Next year will mark the first season of XFL action in San Antonio, and the league will return to the Las Vegas and Orlando regions, where the original XFL had teams in 2001. In 2020, the XFL had teams in the New York, Los Angeles and Tampa areas, but they had lackluster attendance. Those markets accounted for the five lowest-attended games of the 20 that were played that year.

Unlike the USFL, which played all of its 2022 regular season games in Birmingham, Ala., and its postseason in Canton, Ohio, the XFL will play all of its games in its host cities. The league will unveil team names, logos and uniforms at a later date. Games will air on ABC, ESPN and FX; the XFL announced a multiyear broadcast agreement with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN in May.