Longtime CFLer Jim Barker wasn’t buying the burgers the XFL was selling.
“Who wants to go watch some of the hamburgers they had playing quarterback?” Barker told Dan Ralph of the Canadian Press.
Barker has unique firsthand experience from being an offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Xtreme during XFL 1.0 in 2001. Tommy Maddox was his quarterback in LA and led the Xtreme to the first and only XFL Championship in history. Maddox won XFL Player of the Year, which reignited his NFL career.
“The only XFL quarterback I can think of who made any kind of impact was Tommy Maddox, who played for us. When you don’t have identifiable players that people say, ‘You know what? I want to go see that,’ it’s tough,” Barker said.
XFL 2.0 kicked off in February and played five weeks of a planned 10-week schedule. Former Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ head coach June Jones had his Houston Roughnecks atop the XFL standings with a 5-0 record when the 2020 season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It led to Vince McMahon filing the league for bankruptcy.
“It’s like minor league baseball. They move their franchises around because people lose interest because it’s not stars,” Barker said.
Barker also told 770 CHQR radio in Calgary, “People aren’t going to pay money to go watch the players they had play.”
A key part of the Roughnecks’ success was the stellar play of quarterback P.J. Walker (the Ottawa Redblacks own his CFL rights). Walker threw for an XFL-high 1,338 yards with 15 touchdowns against four interceptions while completing 65 percent of his passes. Walker signed with the Carolina Panthers in March.
If XFL quarterbacks were burgers, it doesn’t sound like Barker would go back for seconds.