Followers of the XFL are anxiously awaiting news on team names of all eight league cities for the 2023 season. The league last week may have inadvertently revealed their names on their XFL shop website.
XFL 2023 Team Names
Although not yet officially official, To no one’s surprise who has been following XFL Newshub, five of the returning cities are bringing back their old brands. Well, kind of; Seattle might be the ‘Sea Dragons.’ More on that momentarily. But the St. Louis BattleHawks, DC Defenders, Houston Roughnecks, and the now Arlington Renegades ride again.
The potential crisis of the St. Louis Scooters skating into XFL 2023 and replacing the law of Ka-Kaw has been averted.
The three new city names could and are causing a stir. (The Vipers brand reborn in Las Vegas, the Guardians heading south to Orlando, and the Brahmas in San Antonio.) Something tells me that opposing XFL teams might have extra incentive and motivation to lay the smack down on league co-owner Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s unofficial team adopting the Brahma Bull as its brand. No, I don’t think the SA Brahma brand will be associated with chickens or a Hindu God.
When Will, The New XFL, Finally Reveal Team Names?
Depending on what sources you talk to, The league was going to unveil their team names, colors, and logos; this past Wednesday, but Hurricane Ian’s winds blew those plans into the ocean. Or Las Vegas head coach Rod Woodson let the cat out of the bag a bit early before the league could tease and properly set up their rollout.
It’s worth noting what transpired or didn’t after Rod Woodson appeared on the extremely popular Pat MacAfee and Rich Eisen shows and casually announced that the XFL teams would be revealed the following week. With Woodson talking up how dangerous his team name was.
When reached for comment, the XFL had no statement on Woodson’s announcement. On top of that, the league did not piggyback Woodson’s appearance on those two major shows. No retweets or sharing on any social media channels.
Actions speak louder than words. If the XFL intended to unveil its team identities, they would have teased the announcement in advance. Even a day in advance seems too tepid of an approach for something so important. Rod Woodson may have produced a false start on offense. But you still have to run the next play even if the down and distance have changed.
The early expectation is that the XFL will announce their team names by some time next week (presumably Wednesday).
Supporters of the league have grown exceedingly impatient, especially as the fall has arrived. It’s not like the teams will eventually have no names. And will stroll onto fields in February naked. But the current version of the XFL, whether intentional or not, has had quite a few starts, stops, and restarts in the last two years. (See the CFL talks). It’s exhausting some of the league’s most loyal enthusiasts’ patience.
Operating In XFL 2020’s Shadow
In some respects, the old saying of “what’s old is new again” applies to the XFL. After all, the league is returning in its third iteration. The first two versions, while having the same owner, were distinctly different.
XFL 3.0 is walking the fine line of adopting some of what the league had in 2020 while still trying to spin its vision. Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Capital Partners, Dany Garcia, and Dwayne Johnson have earned the right to present the league however they choose. They saved the league from extinction and are committing a lot of resources and time to make this thing go. ABC and ESPN are back on board also to promote and provide an elite platform for the XFL and those who are rooting for its success.
XFL 2023 will employ hundreds of players, coaches, and employees. The existence of these leagues creates jobs and opportunities for others outside the league as well. From media members to stadium employees, surrounding businesses in the local markets, etc.
The truth is that the new XFL has a more challenging task now than the last one did. XFL 2.0 shocked the world in its quality on and off the field. Simply because they only had to outdo the original XFL. The expectations were low. While the OG XFL created innovations that are still in use today by every major sports league. It was primarily considered a low-rent product on and off the field.
The 2020 league, despite what some spin doctors would have you believe, hit a home run in so many respects. Don’t believe it? Here we are two years later, and the two mega networks that aired the XFL are again back in the spring pro football game. FOX and Disney.
Still don’t buy it? Here we are two years removed from the XFL playing five weeks of regular season football, and some fans still have a passionate interest in the league’s return.
XFL 3.0, a name the league hasn’t adopted, has much to live up to. They are going to be held against the standard of the 2020 league. Which had good football, the XFL still has close to 20 players on NFL rosters three seasons later. The XFL in 2020 did a tremendous job connecting with its fan base; see the league’s dominant social media efforts and live engagement at the stadiums. Beer snakes and enthusiastic crowds included.
Fans of the XFL had a lukewarm response at best to the new league’s logo. Because they liked what the XFL was in 2020, and most fans just want the league to build upon what they did right and improve what the league didn’t. That brings us back to the new old names/brands for 2023.
XFL 2023 Brands And Their Inevitable Changes
Provided that the mistake on the XFL website that multiple fans noticed and shared is accurate and final. Some outlets passed the faux pas as a story that was broken “first.” by them. The XFL is returning seven of their previous team names, with some alterations. Dallas is now Arlington, and the Dragons are now arriving from the Sea. Regardless, they will have their name shortened to the Dragons by fans. And the Vipers and Guardians have new homes.
There may be three new cities in Orlando, San Antonio, and Las Vegas. But only one new name joins the league, and it will be controversial if the XFL shop mistake holds true. The Brahmas. Like the BattleHawks name, could incur ridicule and take some time to get used to.
The real change comes in the look and the overall logos first. Then what will surely follow is the uniforms. Presumably around draft time, and the next thing for impatient fans to gripe over on a daily basis.
You’d like to think DC’s shield and the BattleHawks wings/sword combo will survive the new re-imagining. But we shall see.
A happy medium would be to embrace the 2020 XFL brands with slight tweaks while introducing an alternative look. Like a third or even fourth uniform/helmet option for each team. The NFL is finally doing it, and the XFL should too. Embrace the individual spirit and creativity of players. Maybe not so much He Hate Me on the back of jerseys, but looser restrictions could help.
Just like the league’s name returned but with a different look. Expect the same for returning team brands. The Roughnecks, and Renegades, because they encountered legal battles with the NFL, will almost surely have tweaks to their logos in some form or fashion. Specifically, the Roughnecks tip of the hard hat salute to the Houston Oilers logo, which didn’t go unnoticed by NFL properties or Tennessee Titans ownership.
Although the Guardians name resurfaces (which is a mistake in my view), the Vipers brand is also returning as well. I expect both brands to be tweaked to fit their new cities.
The Guardians were a goth-inspired look that embraced the darkness and grit of New York City. While still paying homage to the city’s protectors. Somehow that theme in usually Sunny and pleasant Orlando (Minus Evil Ian) doesn’t seem to fit. It’s no secret that XFL Chairwoman Dany Garcia was interested in buying the Guardians when Vince McMahon owned the league. So her Florida roots could inspire the theme of Orlando’s squad. Maybe the Guardians take on a more aquatic theme in the Sunshine state than the gargoyles of Gotham in New York.
The one unknown with bringing back the Guardians name is if the fugazi branding of MLB’s Cleveland team will create legal issues for the XFL.
On the surface, although some may label it a stretch. There is more of a connection to the Vipers brand in Vegas than there is for Orlando’s Guardian adoption. Nevada and LV are known for venomous rattlesnakes inhabiting the region, which are theoretically Vipers. And the alliteration works. However, simply copying and pasting the Tampa Vipers look and transferring it to LV won’t.
Three new cities gave the XFL’s new owners the option of forming fresh brands without severe backlash. Perhaps the freshness can come with the style and designs of each team. But in some respects, you could argue that this direction is lazy and uninspired. The new branding could silence the critics.
Brahmas is a tough one. The lone original 2023 XFL team name and a bull theme, which is very common in Texas. So those two things play in San Antonio’s favor. But something doesn’t sit right with one of the league’s owners (The Rock) having a team adopt his trademark. Something Dwayne Johnson uses as a brand with Under Armour.
One thing is for sure, the San Antonio Brahmas better not be the league’s least penalized team. Or it will invite conspiracy theorists and wrestling fans to classify the league as a “work.” Something that the original XFL was accused of on many occasions. But in all seriousness, you only get one chance to present a credible league of high quality. And to make a solid first impression. It may take time to embrace and trust the new XFL’s vision. But at least we are getting closer to finally witnessing it all.
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