Arlington are not your average XFL champions

Arlington are not your average XFL champions
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Arlington are not your average XFL champions

The Arlington Renegades are your new 2023 XFL champions. This coming as they upset the DC Defenders in the league’s championship game. They built on an early lead and eventually went on to win 35-26 at the Alomo Dome in Texas.

But how did we get here? And why are we saying the Renegades are not your average champs? From the outset the latest iteration of the XFL has had its doubters. But it has already got further than some spring leagues. Like the ill-fated Alliance of American Football for example. But for all the naysayers there are always those happy to see more football on the calendar. Here at ninety-nine yards we were looking forward to seeing NFL players in this version of the XFL.

Average champions?

At the end of a ten game season the Renegades slipped into the playoffs with a 4-6 record. Good enough for second in the South Divison. Meanwhile over in the North Division the Defenders finished in first with a 9-1 record. While Seattle and St Louis both finished 7-3. Seattle went through on the tie-breaker.

So the Renegades got in at .400 and were the outsiders. Yet they won. That’s the possibilty of a playoff system. You just never know what might happen.

In their first playoff game Arlington defeated 7-3 Houston 26-11, while DC were disptaching Seattle handily 37-21. The title match would see the 10-1 Defenders face the 5-6 Renegades. Mind you, we should have know the Renegades would compete with the Defenders. DC only walked away with a narrow 28-26 win over them in Week 9 of the regular season.

With their championship win the Renegades made it to .500. Hence the quetion are they ‘average champions’. You would have to say no, because they walked the gauntlet against supposedly better teams and walked away with the trophy.

The Luis Perez factor

Prior to week 7 of the XFL season the Renegades traded with the Vegas Vipers for quarterback Luis Perez. A moment that changed the direction of their season. Prior to that trade they didn’t win two consecutive games throughout the season. Something they had to do to win the title. Perez arrived and improved the attack immediately. The Renegades’ scoring went from 13 to almost 20 points a game with him at the helm.

Against the Houston Roughnecks in the playoffs Perez threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns. In the championship game he went 26-of-36 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Remarkable consistency on the XFL’s bigest stages.

Perez is already well know on the non-NFL circuit. Because he has played in the Alliance of American Football, XFL 2.0, The Spring League, the latest version of the USFL, and now XFL 3.0. Now he can add a championship MVP award to his CV. Despite the Renegades going in as outsiders, Perez was the X factor. Going 45 of 63 for 577 yards and 6 TDs with no picks over two playoff games.

Was the league a success?

This iteration of the XFL has seen league-wide average attendances of 14,705, and TV viewership sat at around 561,000 per regular season game. The biggest off-field success came in St Louis where the 7-3 Battlehawks averaged over 35,000 fans per game.

If you have been around long enough you will have seen plenty of ‘alt-football’ leagues come and go. Operating from a variety of approaches to financing too.

For me, the fact that the league got through a full-season with no talk of pulling the plug, or fighting for resources, is a win. What the future holds remains to be seen.

But for now congratulations to the Arlginton Rengades the not so average champions. Now what’s happening over in the latest verison of the USFL?

Banner image: the Arlington Renegades receive the 2023 XFL trophy from Dwayne Johnson and Danny Garcia. Image from USA today.

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