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XFL unveils Tampa Bay nickname “Vipers” and logo

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
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With the opening to its reboot now six months away, the XFL unveiled their team nicknames and logos Wednesday afternoon. And, that included the franchise placed in Tampa Bay, which will be known as “the Vipers.”

XFL Commissioner and former NFL quarterback, Oliver Luck, hosted the unveiling on the XFL website and social media with the assistance of ESPN TV personality, Laura Rutledge and Fox Sports host, Colin Cowherd.

Tampa Bay will play games in Raymond James Stadium and earlier this year the league announced that former Bears and CFL Grey Cup winning coach, Marc Trestman will be the inaugural head coach of the franchise.

Although he has no real ties to Tampa Bay, Trestman has an extensive background as an offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach, as well as, then head coach throughout college, NFL and CFL football.Trestman was actually a quarterback coach all the way back in the early 1980s for Howard Schnellenberger with the Miami Miami Hurricanes, including tutoring Bernie Kosar and helping them win a National Title. He later moved on to being an NFL assistant, and that included a stop in 1987, as the Buccaneers quarterbacks coach under Ray Perkins.

Trestman rose to prominence in the late 90s and early 2000s is an offensive coordinator with several teams, including helping the Oakland Raiders reach the Super Bowl in 2002, where they lost to the Buccaneers.

Trestman was hired by the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 2008 and won back-to-back Grey Cups Championships in 2009 – 10 with them. That eventually led to him getting the Bears head coaching job in 2013.

After winning his first two games, and the Bears seemingly a playoff contender with Jay Cutler at quarterback, the team faltered and ended up only 8-8. The following season spiraled downward with Chicago finishing 5-11 and Trestman and GM Phil Emery, who had hired him, were both fired in January of 2015.

The seven other cities also learned their nicknames and logos from the league simultaneously, Wednesday afternoon. Those included: the New York Guardians, the Washington D.C. Defenders, the St. Louis Battlehawks, the Houston Roughnecks, the Dallas Renegades, the Seattle Dragons and the L.A. Wildcats.

The XFL played one ill-fated season back in 2001 and wrestling promoter Vince McMahon’s league did place a franchise then in Orlando known as, “The Rage.”

However, the league was hemorrhaging money after just a few months of existence and shut down after that one season. McMahon has had plans to reboot the league for over a year and it will launch and begin playing in February of 2020.

Earlier this year, the XFL announced its television agreements with ESPN and Fox to televise regular season and post season games help give them Spring football notoriety.

Of course, Central Florida already experienced Spring football trying to have a rebirth, when the now-defunct Alliance of American Football played it’s inaugural season earlier this year. However, it shut down eight weeks into their season and with two games remaining before their playoffs were to begin due to mounting financial debt.

Steve Spurrier’s Orlando Apollo’s were 7-1 at the time of the shut down and have been declared as the Champions of the one and only season of the AAF.

Tampa Bay is no stranger to Spring football as the wildly successful Tampa Bay Bandits (also with Spurrier as coach) played in the United States football league in the mid-1980s. The Bandits made the playoffs all three seasons and regularly played in front of 50,000 or more fans at old Tampa Stadium.

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Former Gators kicker Pineiro is Chicago hero- for now

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Every week in the NFL there are heroes in the clutch for different franchises. However, in a market like Chicago with the rabid, massive following like the Chicago Bears, when you do something dramatic to help them win everything is taken up to a new level.

That’s something that new kicker, and former Florida Gator Eddy Pineiro, is experiencing after his dramatic game-winning 53 yard field goal with no time left in Denver Sunday gave the Bears a 16-14 win.

First, it looked as though the Bears had blown the game when they allowed Denver’s Joe Flacco to lead a last-minute scoring drive that resulted in a dramatic touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders with :31 seconds left. And, then, the two hooked up on the go ahead two-point conversion to Sanders for 14 – 13 lead.

But undaunted, the Bears, led by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, got into scoring position on a 25-yard completion to the Broncos 25 to Allen Robinson with just :01 remaining.

That’s when Pineiro, who had kicked two lengthy field goals earlier in the game, stepped on the Mile High turf and calmly, with 80,000 Bronco fans going berserk, booted home a line drive game-winner to make the Bears 1 – 1.

As we wrote earlier this month, Pineiro, a second year player, had won the Bears kicking job coming out of preseason. Pineiro won the spot over Elliott Fry by hitting a 58-yard field goal against the Colts, followed by another 3-for-3 against the Titans in August.

And Gators fans will remember the Miami native having a good college career at Florida. He made 17/18 FG’s during the Gators miserable 2017 season. And combined with his 21/25 the year before, he totaled an 88% field goal career mark.

Pineiro declared for the 2018 NFL Draft after only two seasons with the Gators, but went undrafted. He signed as a free agent with the Oakland Raiders in May of 2018, however, he was placed on injured reserve last September. Earlier this summer, he was traded to the Chicago Bears in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Finally, let’s keep in perspective that we are not talking Chicago icon status like: Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Ernie Banks and Patrick Kane have.

Still, it was a large moment early in his tenuous Bears kicking career and Pineiro is celebrating, like he should.

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Many state fans still without ACC Network

ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference launched the 24-hour ACC television network in the middle of last month. But for all of the fanfare and build up, there are still hundreds of thousands of football fans in the state of Florida who are without the channel headed into the first weekend of September.

And now, that’s about to be problematic with a scheduled Saturday triple-header of games that will involve FSU, the Miami Hurricanes and the USF Bull’s all being televised, exclusively on the channel.

Now, the ACC and ESPN announced Thursday night a deal with Cox Communications, which serves a good portion of the state and will obviously make their customers happy:

The ACC, led by Commissioner John Swofford (above),  also previously announced a deal with Spectrum Communications to carry the ACC Network. That is a significant amount of coverage in Florida.

And, the ACCN is also available through satellite services like DirecTV and Dish. Plus, it’s available on streaming services like Hulu, Sling and YouTube TV for individual fees.

However, while the ACC and ESPN continue to update new deals being done with providers, customers with Comcast / Xfinity, Frontier Communications and AT&T U-verse are still waiting for the channel. And, those outlets represent hundreds of thousands of college football fans in the combined markets of Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

Fans in those markets with those providers already missed last Thursday night’s opener with #1 Clemson and Georgia Tech, were without last Saturday’s ACCN games, and more importantly, possibly won’t to see their favorite school on the triple header Saturday.

That starts with USF at Georgia Tech at 2 p.m., followed by Florida State hosting Louisiana-Monroe and capped Saturday night by Miami’s opening conference game at North Carolina.

All to be shown exclusively, on the ACCN.

The crux of the problem is the amount of money that ESPN is looking to recoup from each individual customer of the provider. It is the same model that they have followed previously with the SEC Network and with their biggest channels like ESPN and ESPN2.

ESPN and the SEC had much more leverage five years ago at the launch of that television network with a much more rabid following. The SEC Network was picked up by every major provider in the state of Florida before games were ever played in the 2014 season.

Again, ESPN and the conference are negotiating non-stop and may very well get deals with the above major providers that are still holding out. But, it’s entirely possible that when the Noles, the Canes and the Bulls hit the field Saturday many of their fans in the state will not be able to see it, on TV, an app, nothing.

You’ve been warned.

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