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The XFL Tailor-Made For Players Like 49ers RB Raheem Mostert

One of the most active debates against the XFL existing is whether people will care enough to see players who are not good enough to currently be in the NFL.  That’s always been the perception of alternative pro football leagues and the players that play in it.

One of the prevailing thoughts is that secondary pro football leagues are minor-league in nature and in talent. Why would anyone want to watch minor league football? Forgetting that many of the players in the XFL have pro football experience already.

There are quite a few rookies on each XFL roster that are coming straight out of college. Then there’s All-Big 12 Safety Kenny Robinson, who will be showing his talents with the St. Louis BattleHawks, before being a part of the 2020 NFL Draft. If St. Louis makes it to the XFL Championship game, Sunday, April 26th on ESPN. Kenny Robinson might be playing the game after an NFL team has already drafted him. I guess we will cross that bridge if the BattleHawks get there.

The vast majority of the XFL’s rosters are made up of former NFL players. Over 200 were in NFL camps and released right at cutdown day in late August. The argument against these facts is that these players are not “good enough” to be in the NFL. If only it were that simple.

If you were to take Quarterbacks, Kickers, and Punters out of the equation. The average NFL career is a little over three years. There are several factors to this. Injuries undoubtedly play a part, but the truth is NFL careers end before players want them to.

Hundreds of new players enter the league every year from college. Only 2 percent of college players make the NFL. Still, it’s enough of them to take away several hundred jobs every year from veteran NFL players. The truth is that a lot of NFL players don’t get to see their second contract, let alone their third. The NFL is a here today, gone today type league.

Then you have what you could label as fringe NFL players. Every year, there are talented football players that barely hang on to NFL roster spots. Most of them jump on and off of practice squads for several different teams. Some players do this for two to three straight years before finally slipping through the cracks and never making it onto an active roster.  Then there’s San Francisco 49ers star running back Raheem Mostert. The exception to the rule.

Coming off the heels of a spectacular 220 yard, 4 touchdown performance in an NFC Championship game victory over the Green Bay Packers. Raheem Mostert embodies the life and spirit of a fringe NFL player.  Unlike Mostert, most of the players in his position never breakthrough to get a chance to shine. The numbers game claims a countless number of victims every year in football.

Despite being a team captain at Purdue and an electrifying player as a returner, runner, and receiver. Raheem Mostert went undrafted in 2015. He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. Mostert had an excellent preseason, but he failed to make the 53 player roster. Mostert was then signed to the Eagles practice squad.

The Dolphins signed Mostert off Philly’s practice squad. Within a month, Miami released him. Before Mostert could be placed on the Dolphins practice squad. The Baltimore Ravens claimed him. Two months later, Baltimore released Mostert. By the end of his crazy roster ride in his rookie season. Raheem would finish the year on the Browns roster.

Just as his second season in the NFL was starting, On September 4th, Raheem Mostert was released by Cleveland. Two days later, after clearing waivers, the New York Jets signed Raheem to their practice squad.  Six days later, Mostert was let go. Here comes the Chicago Bears, they play a game of musical chairs with Raheem. Releasing him twice in two months.

Despite still being in his early 20’s, Raheem Mostert was on his last legs as an NFL player.  Cut 7 times by six teams in just two years. The majority of players that go through this type of cycle, usually never come out of the other side. They eventually fade away, anonymously into non-existence. Thankfully, Raheem didn’t. The 49ers picked him up, and despite ending the 2017 and 2018 seasons on injured reserve. Mostert did just enough to impress and stick around.

Now not only has Raheem Mostert finally made it. He’s made it to Superbowl 54, as one of the Niners key players going in. His performance on SuperBowl Sunday could be the kryptonite that San Franciso needs to keep Patrick Mahomes off the field and to lead the Forty-Niners back to championship glory.

Through perseverance, Raheem Mostert has beaten the odds. There are so many players just like him that have been on NFL rosters in the last few years, that fell by the wayside. These types of players are currently on XFL rosters.

Players like DC Defenders Running Back Jhurell Pressley. Undrafted out of New Mexico in 2016. Pressley has been on five different NFL teams and three different NFL practice squads. 

Another player that falls into this category is Houston Roughnecks RB  De’Angelo Henderson. Drafted into the NFL as a sixth-round pick by Denver in 2017. Henderson has been on four NFL rosters in three years. He just finished the season on the Eagles practice squad before signing with Houston. 

LA Wildcats Running Back Elijah Hood, A First Team All-ACC player. Hood was drafted by the Raiders in 2017, since then he’s bounced on and off of three separate NFL team rosters.

The XFL is affording talented young players like these and many others, an opportunity to showcase their ability. A week after Raheem Mostert plays in the Superbowl on Fox, on the very same channel, football fans will get a chance to see why more players like Raheem Mostert exist in the XFL. Sometimes the players that are good enough to be in the NFL are on the outside looking in. Raheem Mostert was almost one of them.

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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



  1. Ben S

    January 26, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    Great read. A lot of players are pushed out of the NFL due to economics than ability. Especially in the salary cap era. The NFL GM philosophy is “Why give that guy a second contract and see him develop when you can get a younger, CHEAPER version that is almost as good?”

    The problem with the original XFL wasn’t player ability, it was that the teams just weren’t ready to play together. By the end of the season the football was decent. And it looks like those lessons have been learned. I look forward to this season but understand the football might still be rough early as these teams learn to play together.

    • Leo

      January 26, 2020 at 1:24 pm

      Great article . It’s probably the best written article on the league so far.

      Great points Ben. The second contract player situation is a huge factor in players exiting the NFL.

  2. Christian

    January 26, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    That article got me pumped to watch the players in the XFL. Excellent writing.

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