Sunday, we had the opportunity to speak with the running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator of the Dallas Renegades, Bobby Blizzard. Of all the people we’ve talked to, this guy might be the most fired up about the league. He says he hopes to coach in the XFL because he wants, “to be part of something great”.
Most of our conversation was about was the importance of the league. His path to the NFL was unorthodox, having to play in NFL Europe for a bit before coming back to the league. Having that league to fall back on, was key in his return to the NFL.
He had injuries, but for some who don’t make the NFL, it’s not about a lack of talent. It’s about timing, situations, and numbers. Our XFL to NFL tracker has 47 players who have signed NFL deals. Every day more players are getting NFL workouts, which shows this league has the talent. Despite its detractors.
“I’ve talked to NFL guys, and I’ve talked to NFL coaches and players, I know they had their guys they may be going after, but I, I think the COVID thing kinda pushed everybody back, like the guys we talked about like Cam. He should’ve already had a workout immediately.”
He’s not wrong. With NFL rosters being limited to 80 players right now, guys who normally would get workouts, aren’t. Small schools, and HBCUs have been the hardest hit by the virus. By not allowing Pro Days, they couldn’t showcase the talent that isn’t on the national stage.
This league can help with that. I wrote about how this season may be more important than we thought. Players who are 3rd-day draft guys, could benefit from more film. Kenny Robinson opted out last college season, played in the XFL, and was drafted by the Panthers in the 5th round. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar before.
We talked about his whole experience in football, playing at Kentucky for Hal Mumme, and the Air Raid system in 1999-2000. After Mumme was let go, Blizzard transferred to North Carolina where he went on to catch 48 passes for 601 yards and 6 TDs from 2002-2003.
Signed by the Steelers as an undafted free agent, Blizzard bounced from NFL practice squads to NFL Europe, before being back in the NFL in 2007 with Cincinnati.
Although he had his time as a player, Bobby says he caught the coaching bug from Hal Mumme, and so, from 2008 on, he worked his way through the college ranks as a positional coach. Until 2018, when the AAF came calling.
Blizzard coached under Mike Singletary in the AAF at the Memphis Express. He says that experience was jaw-dropping, “These are walking monuments,” he says.
Coming from the college ranks, coaching in a professional league, just being promoted to offensive coordinator. The league ended, and it was devastating for him.
In Dallas, it was almost the same situation. Bobby, once again with Hal Mumme, was coaching running backs and promoted to co-offensive coordinator with Jeff Jagodzinski just a few games before they were told to go home. The virus ruined it for everyone. But Bobby saw the writing on the wall,
“As soon as I heard the NBA canceled their season, I knew we were next.”
That’s exactly how it happened. The NBA and NCAA basketball canceled its postseason. The XFL stopped just 5 weeks in. When I asked him how he found out about the full shut down, he told me he was at home, and HC Bob Stoops sent a mass text to the staff letting them know.
Once again, devastated.
But also like the AAF, he was able to see it as a great experience. he was once again a coordinator in a professional league, working with guys like Mumme and Stoops. Coaching guys like Lance Dunbar and Cameron Artis-Payne, what more could you want? Well, besides a league that hasn’t shut down, of course.
I asked him about the new ownership, and like most, he’s really excited, but also, a bit reserved. He knows Dany Garcia and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with their backgrounds in football and entertainment will do the league right. Last year laid the groundwork. Not much should or would’ve changed.
His reservations lie in whether he’ll have a spot. The head coaches should be back, of course with the exception of Pep Hamilton, who took a job in the NFL. But everyone else should be back. Whether Stoops calls him to return to the staff is the big unknown.
I won’t give away much more, you’ll have to listen to next week’s podcast to hear the whole thing, but I’ll leave you with this:
“The only bad thing I have to say about the XFL is the COVID thing. If that didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Everything about the league was top notch. The facilities, the travel, the games, players.”
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