A lot has been made about the return of the XFL. With names like Cardale Jones, Marquette King and others, the league made an explosive return to network television this weekend. Of the week one games, none were more talked about than Saturday’s match-up between the Seattle Dragons and Washington, D.C. Defenders. Led by Cardale Jones, the Defenders were able to earn a twelve point win over Brandon Silvers and company. However, that’s not the only thing we took away from Saturday’s game. Our Culture Editor, Ryan Shepard, traveled out to Audi Field to provide us with a look at everything that took place on and off the field. Here is our “Four Downs” post-game recap of the Defenders season opening victory over the Seattle Dragons.
First Down: The Defenders had a tough day running the ball.
Introducing @BeAst_MoDe90. He delivers big hits. ?
— Seattle Dragons (@XFLDragons) February 9, 2020
Before we get into the off-field activities, we have to discuss what happened on the field. The bright spots during the Defenders twelve point win against the Dragons were their passing attack and defense. Moving forward, the Defenders can improve in the run game. Through nearly three full quarters of football, their quarterback, Cardale Jones, led the team in rushing with less than 35 yards on the ground. To be clear, Jones can move and has no problem running the ball, but he should not be a team’s leading rusher through the majority of the game. Luckily, it’s not as if the Defenders don’t have talent in the backfield. Heading into Saturday’s game, a lot was made about Donnel Pumphrey and his storied career at San Diego State University. Not to mention, Jhurrell Pressley finished the game as the team’s leading rusher and possesses 4.4 40 yard speed which will definitely come in handy. Next week, they’ll take on the New York Guardians who will come into Audi Field after giving up 150 yards on the ground. Hopefully, the Defenders can take advantage of their run defense in week two.
Second Down: As expected, the Defenders defended their home field very well.
— Beezo (@b_sylve3) February 9, 2020
Given his play at The Ohio State University during their last national championship run, much of the media attention coming into this game was given to D.C.’s offensive potential. While Jones and company played well on Saturday, their defense showed up in a big way. Delivering not one, but two touchdowns against the Dragons, the Louis Cioffi led unit was a major reason why they walked away with the on Saturday. Heading into next week, the Defenders seemingly have the upper hand against the New York Guardians who were nearly shut out during the second half of their week one win against the Tampa Bay Vipers.
Third Down: Family is everything.
— DC Defenders (@XFLDefenders) February 10, 2020
Beyond the rule changes and in-game interviews, the most notable attribute of the new XFL is its family-like atmosphere. Having had the opportunity to attend professional sporting events since I was seven years old, I can honestly say that I had more fun at Saturday’s XFL season opener than I have had at any other game since I was a small kid in New Jersey. A big reason why I had such as great time is that when you walked into the stadium, you felt like you were becoming a part of a community.
Behind the scenes, the same can be said about the players on the field. When Pep Hamilton walked into his post-game press conference, he did so with his son by his side. In addition, Rahim Moore Sr. treated his teammate, Eli Rogers, like a brother during their joint post-game press conference. Moore Sr. personally congratulated his teammate who had lost his mother last week. As a son who lost his father at an early age, my Mom is my everything and has been my everything. My heart goes out to Rogers and his family. Even with a seemingly heavy heart, Rogers not only went out there and played, but he balled. On six targets, Rogers caught six passes for 73 yards on the day. If I had a game ball, I’d give it to Rogers.
Fourth Down: We’ve got to get Rahim Moore Sr. out to the vegan spots in D.C.
Mornin' from your favorite XFL team's favorite XFL team. pic.twitter.com/TnAymh8PxS
— DC Defenders (@XFLDefenders) February 9, 2020
After we were through discussing the x’s and o’s of Saturday’s game, the media had the opportunity to ask the important questions. During this time, Rahim Moore Sr. said he heard that Washington, D.C. had some good vegan spots. First, he heard correctly. Second, I’m going to campaign for one thing and one thing only this season. If the Defenders make the XFL Championship Game in April, I need to do an on-site interview at Nu Vegan with Moore Sr. about veganism, playing for my favorite team, the Broncos, and everything DC Defenders related. Lastly, I’m going to offer my suggestions about some good vegan spots in the area. For starters, Nu Vegan is a must. It’s right near Pep Hamilton’s alma mater, Howard University. Also, feel free to check out ELife in Takoma, HipCity Veg in Chinatown and Soul Tarian Cafe. True Food in Bethesda also has a nice environment if you want to travel out there. We may not be Los Angeles, but we’ve got our own vegan spots too.