XFL coaches to include Bob Stoops, Hines Ward, Rod Woodson

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The second reboot of the XFL, slated for a 2023 debut, on Wednesday announced its eight head coaches. The group is headlined by retired NFL stars Hines Ward and Rod Woodson; former NFL coach Wade Phillips; and Bob Stoops, the longtime University of Oklahoma coach who led the league’s Dallas franchise in its previous iteration. Former NFL players and coaches Terrell Buckley, Jim Haslett, Reggie Barlow and Anthony Becht also were named.

“We’ve brought together a respected group of coaches with elite football experiences, proven track records of success and a passion for the game,” XFL President Russ Brandon said in a statement. “Our owners — Dany, Dwayne and Gerry — were a big part of the recruitment process, identifying true leaders in the sport that aligned with our vision and bring the best of the best to the XFL. I look forward to collaborating with each of them and witnessing the active role they play in shaping their respective teams.”

The Dwayne referenced by Brandon is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the actor and former Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman and WWE star who in 2020 purchased the league for $15 million alongside Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital.

“I’m so inspired to put in the work because football always represented an opportunity to me. Opportunity to take care of my family,” Johnson later wrote on Instagram. “And even though my dreams of playing pro football never came true — I’m in the exciting and humbling position to create opportunities for players so their dreams can come true. It’s an uphill battle — but we’re hungry, humble and no one will outwork us.”

The original XFL lasted just one season in 2001. It returned in 2020, before that season was canceled less than halfway through its three-month schedule as a result of the pandemic. The league filed for bankruptcy that April and was purchased by Johnson’s consortium that summer.

The relaunched XFL, like its predecessor, will feature slight alterations that allow for the NFL to explore new rules, equipment, coaches and officials. It also has a partnership that positions the league as a developmental option for unemployed NFL players.

Although the XFL featured several former college football standouts, few players caught on in the NFL after the league folded. Current NFL players who participated include Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker, arguably the league’s top player with the Houston Roughnecks, and Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who was a backup for the St. Louis BattleHawks.

The XFL’s coaching announcement comes as the United States Football League — which has no affiliation with its namesake ancestor — gets set to begin its season Saturday with eight teams and 350 players.

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