10 XFL stars from Taylor Heinicke to Rod ‘He Hate Me’ Smart

Previous iterations of the XFL were eerily reminiscent of the chorus of a George Strait song – “I’m here for a good time, I ain’t here for a long time.”

But now, under a new and prominent ownership group (a guy named Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is involved), the 2023 XFL promises to be different than its predecessors. As the fledgling league tries to stay behind the game of AJ McCarron and Ben DiNucci, it’s only right that we revisit those who started it in the early years. For starters, the original 2001 XFL would have been nothing without the one and only He Hate Me.

Whether it was a final foray into football after college success or a stepping stone to NFL glory, these players have made their mark on the XFL:

Rod “He Hate Me” Smart, RB/KR, Las Vegas Outlaws

The 2001 version of the XFL famously offered players the option to have nicknames on the back of their jerseys. Smart chose “He Hate Me” and a star was born – along with a best-selling jersey. Smart finished the original XFL’s lone season with 555 rushing yards, good for second in the league, and had three touchdowns. He later became a special teamer for the Carolina Panthers, primarily serving as a kick-and-punt returner in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Corey Ivy, DB, Chicago Enforcers

Ivy’s stint in the XFL was just one chapter in his long pro football career, but he managed to make it worthwhile. Ivy led the XFL in interceptions during their 2001 stint. The next season, he messed around and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, played in all 16 regular-season games, and made three postseason appearances.

Steve Gleason, S, Birmingham Thunderbolts

Before playing for the New Orleans Saints and campaigning for people with ALS, Gleason also played in the XFL’s inaugural season. His stint with the Thunderbolts was far less remarkable than what he would achieve in the NFL. After Hurricane Katrina in 2006, when the Saints returned to the Superdome for the first time in 21 months, Gleason blocked a punt to help beat the Atlanta Falcons. It has become one of the most iconic moments in franchise history.

Landry Jones, QB, Dallas Renegades

The Oklahoma Sooners standout quarterback (123 career TD passes) and Pittsburgh Steelers backup QB were the first players to sign with the short-lived XFL 2.0. The move reunited Landry with his college coach, Bob Stoops. The stint almost didn’t happen as the Steelers attempted to re-sign Jones after Ben Roethlisberger was injured, but the signing was blocked by the XFL. Landry had five TDs and 7 INTs in four starts before the XFL shut down. He hasn’t played in the NFL since then.

PJ Walker, QB, Houston Roughnecks

Temple’s all-time leader in QB wins became the league’s breakout star. Walker had 15 TDs and 5 INTs in five XFL starts. He won all five starts. Walker signed with the Panthers in 2020 and has started seven games during that time. In Week 7 of the 2022 season, he threw two TDs to beat the Bucs 21-3.

Josh Johnson, QB, Los Angeles Wildcats

Selected in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL draft, Johnson is the quintessential NFL journeyman. He has been on the active roster of 11 different NFL teams. But he thrived in the XFL. Johnson leads the league in passer rating while ranking below middle for the Wildcats in 2020.

Taylor Heinicke, QB, St Louis Battlehawks

Heinicke’s time in the XFL? Unobtrusive. What did he achieve there? Even more. The Green Lizard has started on and off for the Washington Commanders since replacing an injured Alex Smith in the 2021 NFC wildcard game. In that duel, he faced Tom Brady, threw for 306 yards and a TD, and nearly upset eventual Super Bowl champion Bucs. He has remained in Washington since then and has shown some highlights. In four starts this season he is 3-1 with five TDs, most recently he brought the Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) a defeat on “Monday Night Football”.

Keenan Reynolds, WR, Seattle Dragons

Reynolds finished his college career in the Navy and held record after record. Despite an attempted change of position, he could not prevail in the NFL. In 2020, he signed with the XFL and became a star on special teams and as a wide receiver for the Dragons.

Matt Jones, RB, St.Louis BattleHawks

Jones was selected by the Commanders in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft. After a successful NFL career that included stints with the Indianapolis Colts and Eagles, he brought his talents to the XFL. Jones was named to the midseason All-XFL team after rushing for 314 yards and a touchdown on 80 rushes and having 25 receiving yards and a touchdown before the league shut down.

Cardale Jones, QB, DC Defender

When you think of Cardale Jones, you probably think of the state of Ohio. Jones’ XFL career wasn’t nearly as successful as his college days with the Buckeyes. He got off to a strong start with the Defenders, winning his first two games as a starter. But then he went on a four-game stretch where he threw 2 TDs on 7 INTs and watched his yards per attempt drop in every game. When the league collapsed, Tyree Jackson had replaced him as QB1.

https://www.espn.com/xfl/story/_/id/35027545/former-xfl-stars-taylor-heinicke-rod-hate-smart 10 XFL stars from Taylor Heinicke to Rod ‘He Hate Me’ Smart

Emma Bowman

USTimesPost.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@ustimespost.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button