On November 1st, Battlehawks Head Coach Anthony Becht, and XFL President Russ Brandon took the stage at Bally’s Live in St. Louis’ Ballpark Village. Greeted by about 100 fans, chants of Ka-Kaw, Becht and Brandon were interviewed by Michelle Beisner-Buck to let the world know a simple fact. That St. Louis has a football team again, and that the Battlehawks have returned home.
Ballpark Village was definitely electric when I walked in. The crowd was constantly cheering with calls of Ka-Kaw, and the hope of the return of St. Louis football returning was definitely on full display. The event coordinator/Communications Director Brian Stull allowed me to go backstage to the green room, before Coach Becht came on stage and I was granted the privilege to ask a couple questions prior to the event.
Coach Becht and I discussed, his coaching staff, his time in the AAF, and I even tried to get him to confirm that Ryan Willis was indeed his QB1 (first reported by XFL Insider Mike Mitchell), which he denied, however Becht was extremely adamant about the process and scouting that him and his staff have been doing since coming together.
I asked Becht about his concerns about coaching in an alt-league especially during his time in the AAF. Both him, his DC Donnie Abraham, and Dave Boller (DPP) have all AAF ties. Becht stated that the football was exceptional, and they were all under the impression that the finances were solid, until well it wasn’t. Becht and the other coaches are extremely optimistic of the fact that Redbird capital understanding not only how to do business, but also how run a successful profitable business due to their success with the other sports ventures.
After our interview Becht, and Russ Brandon were able to speak with the fans, on the main floor of Ballpark Village. One thing that stood out to me was Becht’s commitment to bringing the city of St. Louis to the Battlehawks. Through community involvement, in addition to the open-door policy that Becht wants to do by allowing former Rams, like Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson to come back to the dome to partake in some Battlehawks games and events. For fans this allows the citizens of St. Louis to continue to heal from the burns left by Stan Kroenke when he hastily took the Rams to LA.
Becht, Brandon, and the Battlehawks would later open the floor to the fans. Though some of the questions were pretty generic regarding staff, and players, one fan stood out amongst the rest. A gentleman towards the back didn’t have a question but more of an appreciation for Becht and the XFL. He stated that the Battlehawks aren’t just for him but for his son, and now that Battlehawks are back he’s able to bring his son to football games now. This too me was the whole point of the night, that XFL is so much more than just a league, but an avenue of allowing families in cities that have been spurned by the larger NFL teams, in an effort for parents to share a game they love to their kids.
Overall, the event brought hope to our city, a city that for years was forgotten by pro-football pundits only to be given a taste and then have it washed away by a pandemic. St. Louis deserves this team, and the XFL, for too long the citizens of the Mound City, have been without seeing dynamic offenses and dominate pass-rushers, running around the “dome”. For fans of football, St. Louis having a football team, is great for the game as it will serve as a positive model for what these alt-leagues bring to smaller markets and forgotten metros. With the XFL set to kick off about three months from now it’s only a matter of time before we open the top level in the dome and begin greeting our new favorite players to calls of Ka-Kaw. Special thanks to Coach Becht and Brian Stull for putting together an amazing event, and allowing me to talk to both of them.
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