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XFL announces eight cities for play in 2020, including Tampa Bay

Florida Football Insiders



Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Having already been beaten to the punch to play Spring football in 2019, the XFL announced on Wednesday their eight franchises that will compete the following year in the league’s relaunch of 2020.

And a Florida city is on the list to play.

XFL commissioner (and former NFL QB and West Virginia athletic director) Oliver Luck made the announcements Wednesday afternoon of the eight cities that will play for the first season of the XFL coming back to life. Those announcements came in Wednesday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which will be the flagship site/city for the league.

Along with New York, the XFL announced seven other cities and stadium deals. Those are in Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington D.C. and…. Tampa Bay.

The choice of West Central Florida is interesting for several reasons: One, Tampa Bay previously had success with a spring football entry in the United States football league in the mid-1980s. Secondly, the competing Alliance of American football already picked Orlando for one of its cities, when they begin play in a few months. They also named the former Bandits of the USFL and Gators legendary QB and coach, Steve Spurrier, as head coach.

Third, it’s also interesting that many of the franchises are isolated geographically and almost disconnected from the rest of the league. The example of Tampa Bay being franchise that doesn’t have another club within 1500 miles of them. The closest would be either St Louis, Dallas or Washington D.C.

By contrast and by design, the AAF announced that Orlando is joined for their inaugural season by Birmingham, Memphis and Atlanta forming essentially a South Region for their fledgling spring League.

Raymond James Stadium is the home of the Buccaneers and also the USF Bulls. And, it will hold Super Bowl 54 in February of 2020 before this restart- XFL season is to begin. The league played one infamous season in 2001 which debuted with a massive opening TV rating their first week and then plummeted over the few weeks. The league folded after the one year, 17 years ago.

Back to Raymond James Stadium (above), it also hosted the College Football Playoff Championship Game won by Clemson in the final seconds against Alabama two years ago.

Three of the cities: New York, St Louis and Seattle will have football being played either a current or previous NFL venue. The other four cities are using baseball or soccer facilities for home games.

Finally, Luck and the XFL, which is being backed by WWE wrestling chairman, promoter and multi-millionaire Vince McMahon, have yet to make a formal announcement about any coaches for their franchises and what their player pool will be, etc.

There is also skepticism that since the AAF will be playing before them, that the XFL May scrap plans altogether to play a year and a half from now.

This would be especially, if the AAF shows great success, attendance and television ratings before the XFL has even signed a player.

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Antonio Brown agent Rosenhaus- “not sure we’ve exhausted all options”

Florida Football Insiders



Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The ongoing off-field mess involving new Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown, his outdated helmet and his refusal currently to participate in their training camp, has ties to South Florida.

That’s where Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus resides and he gave an update Sunday night on the situation from Browns point of view to WSVN TV. Rosenhaus is a weekly guest on their Sunday night “Sports Xtra” show during the football season and obviously Brown and his helmet issues are one of the top off the old topics in the NFL right now:

“I’m not sure that we agree that we’ve exhausted all the options, as Mike Mayock said. But there’s no doubt it’s still an ongoing process. We are trying to work with the team and the league and the union to come up with a solution. We haven’t figured it out yet,” Rosenhaus told the show.

He continued, “To say that AB is upset about the decision to not let him wear his helmet is accurate, but we’re still processing it and figuring it out. I wouldn’t make too much about him not being there today, as much as we’re still trying to come up with a solution that works for everyone.” 

Brown is balking at having to switch to a new modernized helmet from the Schutt Air Advantage model helmet that he has been wearing throughout his nine-year NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The NFL contends that that helmet is outdated, too old and not safe. And, they denied Brown’s request to continue to use the helmet, when he filed a grievance with the league last week.

The only exception is: that if Brown can find a newer model of the helmet( less than 10 years old) and the NFL says that it will test it and potentially certify him to play with it. As of yet, Brown has not found a model that is within the guidelines and passes the test. So, Brown is back refusing to participate in workouts with his new team, the Raiders.

He is shown in the photo above, participating in pregame warmup last Thursday night with the Raiders in Arizona, while wearing the outlawed helmet. Brown did not play in the exhibition game.

On Sunday, Mayock, the Raiders new GM, who along with head coach Jon Gruden engineered the offseason trade for Brown from Pittsburgh to Oakland, publicly repeated frustration that Brown is refusing to come in practice with his team, that’s now in the fourth week of training camp.

Mayock told the Oakland media Sunday afternoon,

“You all know that A.B. is not here today. So here’s the bottom line. He’s pretty upset about the helmet issue,” Mayock said. “We have supported that. We appreciate that. But at this point, we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all in or all out. So we’re hoping he’s back soon.”

Brown is from Miami Gardens and is a former star at Norland High School in Miami. He later went on to great success at Central Michigan and was picked in the sixth round by the Steelers in 2010. Brown is a seven time Pro Bowler and a four time first team All Pro and is regarded as one of the two or three best receivers in all of the NFL.

Almost all of the NFL players have switched over to the compliant newer football helmets and the league even created a special Sports Science Department that specifically to tests helmets and studies impact/head trauma.

Brown is part of a small group of players that have been “grandfathered in” during previous seasons to allow them wear the older helmets. That group includes, Patriots QB Tom Brady and Saints QB Drew Brees. However, the helmets have had to continue to undergo testing, and the league has now decided if they’re more than 10 years old they cannot be used in games.

That’s the issue with Brown.

The league wants the players to use a more modernized and safer helmet and Brown will not agree to do that for, now. However, he went through the mandated arbitration system and lost his appeal last week.

A Monday morning update from Napa California is that Brown is back at Raiders training camp and was in their team meeting.

However, it’s unclear if he intends to practice with a different helmet, etc.

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NFL announced Wednesday Pro Bowl back in Orlando

Florida Football Insiders



Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is obviously happy with Orlando as its location for its postseason Pro Bowl All-Star Game, and they demonstrated that again on Wednesday morning.

That’s when the league announced that for the fourth consecutive year the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl will be played at Camping World Stadium the weekend before the Super Bowl:

For the last three years, the All-Star game has called Orlando it’s home, and there’s no doubt that football fans in Central Florida (and all over the country) have enjoyed coming to Central Florida to be part of the festivities that week.

However, the game itself has come under increasing criticism, and rightfully so, as the players involved seem less and less interested in it actually being a football game.

In fact, we went so far as to say that the NFL should stop playing the game, as it has devolved into a mockery of what a “football game” should look like. Here’s part of what we wrote last January:

At the risk of being criticized for being reactionary or even like Clint Eastwood and “Get off my lawn,” no one can defend any longer what we’re seeing, as anything that resembles a football game.

No you can’t defend something that used to be at least an aggressive and fun All-Star Game featuring the NFL’s best players, but that has devolved into a farce.

A farce where no one wants to block, much less tackle anyone.

This was on full display from the beginning of the game on the dreary damp Sunday in Orlando. This as, handoffs would go to running backs, who would run into the massive bodies at the line where players were not blocking the players in front of them. And, the referees would eventually just blow the whistle with everyone standing around.

Quarterbacks would throw the ball down the field to receivers, who were running 3/4 speed against defensive backs who were running a 3/4 speed and both might, or might not, try to make the catch or play on the ball.

Yes, there was an occasional moment, where are you saw flashes with a significant throw or runner would break free, but make no mistake: what the Pro Bowl has become, gradually over the last few years, and now on full display Sunday, is not football.

It’s not even close.

Nonetheless, the Pro Bowl will continue and be televised again this season by ESPN on Sunday afternoon January 26th. The Super Bowl will be played the following week in Miami at Hard Rock Stadium.

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