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XFL 2020 Success Story Taylor Heinicke Welcomes D.C. Defenders Back To The DMV

The XFL and the D.C. Defenders are returning to the DMV in 2023. And one of the league’s biggest success stories from 2020, current Washington Commanders starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke is welcoming the league and Defenders back with open arms.

The XFL 2023 season kicks off Saturday, February 18th, on ESPN, ABC, and FX. Perhaps Taylor Heinicke will not only be watching and rooting for the league, but maybe he could come out to Audi Field as a guest when the Defenders play the Battlehawks in the District.

Taylor Heinicke A Shining Example Of The XFL’s Value

Taylor Heinicke and others are examples of what leagues like the XFL can provide. Heinicke is on an incredible run and career resurgence. He is a beloved figure by his teammates, coaches, and fans in the DMV. But he’s also gained the admiration of football fans abroad for his playing style and spirit.

Heinicke has the 7-5-1 Washington Commanders in playoff contention. Two years after he stood toe to toe with Tom Brady in the NFL playoffs in one of the most spectacular and improbable postseason performances just months after donning a St. Louis Battlehawks uniform. In that playoff affair, Heinicke threw for over 300 yards with two scores in just his second ever NFL start against the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Heinicke has the ultimate underdog story. He keeps getting knocked down and coming right back up off the mat. The undrafted free agent drifted from the Minnesota Vikings to the New England Patriots, the Houston Texans, and the Carolina Panthers — since first entering the NFL in 2015.

The former Old Dominion standout was out of the NFL mix a few years ago, and it appeared that his career was over twice. But a spot in the XFL and an improbable journey back into the NFL, thanks to the shifting of heaven and earth, vaulted him back on the pro football scene.

After playing his way into a two-year contract extension with Washington in 2020, Heinicke’s honeymoon appeared to be nearing its end when the Commanders acquired Carson Wentz this past offseason.

But once again, Heinicke found his way back on the field, and this season has been his finest as a pro. It hasn’t always been pretty, but Heinicke has helped lead the Commanders back this season from the depths of despair. Taylor Heinicke is 10-4-1 in his last 15 games and lost only one game this season in eight starts. The Commanders have gone from 1-4 to 7-5-1, and are on the brink of the playoffs in the league’s toughest division, thanks partly to Taylor Heinicke’s perseverance.

XFL 2020 Players Currently On NFL Rosters Heading Into Week 14

The success of XFL 2020 quarterbacks P.J. Walker (Carolina Panthers), Josh Johnson (San Francisco 49ers), and Taylor Heinicke (Washington Commanders) in the last three NFL seasons speaks to the value of the XFL. All three former league quarterbacks have started games in the NFL the previous three seasons and have had success with the opportunities they have earned.

It went beyond the XFL’s quarterbacks in 2020. The league has nineteen 2020 players on NFL rosters heading into Week 14 of the 2022 season. Quite the accomplishment considering that the XFL played only five weeks of regular season games two years ago. What’s most impressive is that the overwhelming majority of the names on the list below are going on their third consecutive season of playing in the NFL since they played in the XFL. A testament to the players’ quality, value, and staying power.

Hopefully, the XFL of 2023 will continue to embrace players like Taylor Heinicke and others who have proven the value of the league. Their success provides no better selling point or promotional tool, not just to future players, the media, and fans but to everyone in the football ecosystem. Ultimately, and most importantly, it provides motivation and proof to the 2023 XFL players that perseverance can pay off. Like it has for Taylor Heinicke.

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years. I started covering the XFL back in 2001. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell

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