We’ve yet to see the team name/colorways/uniforms for Orlando’s new XFL team, but it has come out that the team will be led by former NFL cornerback and longtime coach Terrell Buckley as he assumes the head coaching role.
The Packers took Buckley with the 5th overall pick in the 1992 draft after an incredible run at Florida State which saw him win a Jim Thorpe award in ’91. He played three years in Green Bay, making 10 interceptions in that time, before he was abruptly traded to Miami. He exploded on the scene in the sunshine state, recording 22 more picks as he cemented himself as one of the NFL’s most consistent turnover threats. He had a season with Brian Griese’s Broncos, racking up 6 more picks, and had stops in New England, Miami again, and New York with the Jets and Giants before calling it a career.
By the time he hung it up, he had 50 interceptions, and is tied for 7th all time for interception return TD’s with 6. An all-time career as a cornerback, he almost immediately jumped into coaching. Buckley worked at his alma mater as a safeties assistant, WR assistant, graduate assistant and weight room coach from 2007-2011.
He then solidified a role as cornerbacks coach at Akron, and served in the same posting at Louisville, Mississippi State and Ole Miss throughout the past 10 years. After a 14 year career as a cornerback, and another decade and a half of coaching, Buckley is getting his first head coaching gig in the rebranded XFL.
He’s brought in some quality help here, with Larry Lee as his director of player personnel, Robert Ford at OC and fellow former FSU/Broncos corner Tony Carter as DC.
Larry Lee was an NFL Center with the Lions, Dolphins and Broncos in the 80’s, and was VP of Football Operations for Detroit after his retirement. He’s also responsible for Business Development with the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an organization dedicated to advocating for Black coaches in football. A former player with a record of NFL front office experience checks all the boxes for this position, and I expect Lee to be one of the XFL’s best here.
Robert Ford was a standout WR/RS at the University of Houston who jumped immediately into coaching after graduation. He worked as a WR coach with a long list of schools and programs from Western Illinois to Texas A&M, Mississippi State to the Houston Gamblers of the USFL before making it to the NFL. He was a longtime Tight Ends coach for the Dallas Cowboys during their legendary 3x Super Bowl run in the 90s, winning all three championships with the team. Under Ford’s guidance in his first coaching year in the NFL, TE Jay Novacek reached his first Pro Bowl in 1991, then went to 4 more straight to cap off his career.
When Barry Switzer was swapped for Chan Gailey as Dallas’ head coach, Ford moved to Miami where he was WR coach for the Dolphins from 1998-2003. In that time, he was there for the last years of Dan Marino’s career, and helped transition the team to a somewhat forgotten era of success under Jay Fiedler at QB. Since then, he’s had stops with the Arizona Cardinals (2004), Oakland Raiders (2006) and Texas Southern (2011).
Recently, we’ve seen him with The Spring League as a running backs coach, and it’s good to see his name come up in the XFL. Ford brings with him five decades of experience to run this offense. Ford has worked with some of the best players in pro football throughout his career, and I’m excited to see what brand of offense he brings to the table.
DC Tony Carter also played DB at FSU. A 4-year starter with the Seminoles, he made a big impact there and caught on with the Denver Broncos as an UDFA. He spent some time with the Patriots and Vikings before returning to Denver, where he earned a steady role as the team’s 3rd/4th corner in their 2012 and 2013 runs with Peyton Manning. In that time, Carter had 3 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries and 3 TD’s as he helped the team make their Super Bowl run.
After Denver, Carter had stops in Indianapolis and New Orleans, and was hired on as a Defensive Assistant with the Detroit Lions under Matt Patricia and was called on to be their DB’s coach when a round of COVID hit them late in 2020. He was previously working as the Cornerback’s coach at Southern Illinois University, and will be taking his first coordinator position with the XFL next year.
Though he’s just starting to cut his teeth in the world of coaching, Tony Carter has worked with a wide cast of talented DB’s, getting to pick the brains of guys like Champ Bailey, Brian Dawkins and Chris Harris Jr. and even Peyton Manning in his time with Denver.
Terrell Buckley is going into this year as a first time head coach with two first time coordinators, but each has their own unique and storied experience in football, and Larry Lee has an incredible background to help guide them. I fully believe this staff has what it takes to craft an excellent football team for the XFL down and Orlando. Stay tuned!
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