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Alt-Football in Review: Heinicke Dazzles Yet Commanders Fall, Multiple XFL Draftees Sign USFL Contracts

Week 15 in the NFL saw an XFL fan favorite Donald Parham return to the field and Taylor Heinicke battle the Giants in hopes of keeping the Commanders playoff hopes alive. While Parham was able to contribute to the Chargers win, Heinicke continues to provide his weekly dose of grit, moxie, and at times slightly reckless.

Heinicke battled putting together another serviceable performance for the Commanders in their playoff audition. Despite the effort and heroics, Heinicke’s crucial fumbles one returned for a touchdown and one in the red zone, gave the Giants back the football with about six minutes left in the game giving the Giants the ball at their own 14 and preserving a 17-12 lead.

The Giants would march down the field to set up a field goal giving the Giants a 20-12 lead. Heinicke battled back leading the Commanders down to the one, but an illegal formation penalty negated a Brian Robinson Touchdown, and Heinicke’s Fourth Down pass would fall incomplete. Heinicke finished the night with one passing touchdown, 249 passing yards, with 33 on the ground. The Commanders remain the NFC 7th seed with a 7-6-1 record.

Donald Parham was activated off IR for the Chargers in Week 15. Parham appeared in two games this year and was expected to expand his role in the Offense in 2023. Parham this week recorded 3 receptions for 35 yards in his return to the field as the Chargers defeated the Titans on a last second field goal 17-14. Another XFL Vet turned LA Charger Storm Norton was inactive for week 15.

Tyree Jackson former DC Defenders QB continues to see more work at the Tight End Position. Jackson continues to see his role in Offense increase while maintaining a solid dose of Special Teams playing time. Jackson has spent the last two seasons with the Eagles as a Tight End since the XFL 2.0 ceased operations in 2020. Jackson did have a major holding penalty; however the Eagles were able to overcome and defeat the Bears 25-20.

The XFL trio of Long Snappers continue their healthy dose of consistent play. Nick Moore, Christian Kuntz, and Scott Daly all continue to extend their careers by putting together solid special teams play. Since coming into the NFL from the XFL the Long Snappers have played in 94 games with Nick Moore of the Ravens gaining Pro Bowl Consideration.

XFL Draftees on the Move:

Former Louisville WR/TE Jaylen Smith is joining the Seattle Seahawks Practice Squad. Smith was drafted by the St. Louis Battlehawks in November. Smith is a hybrid Wide Receiver/Tight End, who has bounced around the NFL and CFL since becoming an UDFA in 2019. The Seahawks are now the 3rd NFL team Smith has joined in his career.

Wide Receiver Rico Gafford is opting to sign with the Birmingham Stallions over the San Antonio Brahmas. Gafford has seen time at Cornerback and Wide Receiver since becoming a UDFA in 2018 out of Wyoming. Gafford has been with six NFL teams and recorded 2 receptions for 66 yards and 1 touchdown in his NFL career.

Gafford 10 Scoring a Touchdown with Raiders

Defensive Back TJ Green is also joining the Birmingham Stallions as well. Green was selected in the 10th round of the Defensive Backs phase of the XFL Draft by the Arlington Renegades. Green has been with six NFL teams and spent a month with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2022. Green a former 2nd round pick in 2016 has totaled 103 tackles in 40 games in the NFL.

A Familiar Face Finds a Home:

Former Salt Lake Stallion and St. Louis Battlehawks Wide Receiver is also joining the USFL. De’Mornay Pierson-El was signed by the New Jersey Generals after spending 2022 out of football. Pierson-El joins his 5th pro-football league and his 7th team, since becoming an UDFA in 2018. Though he’s never recorded a reception in an NFL or CFL, Pierson-El has appeared in 13 AAF and XFL games in his pro career totaling 59 receptions (36 AAF, 23 XFL) for 625 Yards (414 AAF, 209 XFL) in his pro career.

<strong>DeMornay Pierson El<strong> 15 during his time in the XFL 20 2020

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Pat Rifino is a former Security Contractor turned writer. He began his writing career talking about geo-politics, and the defense industry. Now Pat writes about alt-league football, while hanging with his dogs in his off time.

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