ORLANDO, Fla. – The season is underway for the XFL, or Extreme Football League, with the Orlando Guardians playing home games at Camping World Stadium.
If you didn’t know, this is actually the league’s third attempt at the XFL.
It was formed in 2001, but ended after one season. It came back in 2020, then was halted halfway through the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Investors, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, brought it back with eight teams, including the Orlando Guardians, encouraging sports lovers to become fans of the unique game.
To say Coach Lamar Thomas is exited to be a part of the XFL would be an understatement.
“Orlando Guardians, stand guard,” the special teams coach yelled. “The Orlando Guardians, we are hungry, we want this win.”
Thomas is a Central Florida native from Ocala, with experience on the field as a wide receiver for the Miami Hurricanes where he won two championships before being drafted into the NFL, playing for the Tampa Bay Bucs and Miami Dolphins.
So what’s the difference between the NFL and XFL?
“The main difference are the players. These guys are here for a reason. They fall short of being in the NFL, whether it’s speed or experience. It’s our jobs as coaches to mentor them and teach them what to expect and how to get to the NFL or back to the NFL,” said Thomas. “Being a special teams coach, after a touchdown is scored, I’m thinking ‘extra point.’ But no, you’re going for one, two or three points. There’s rules on the kickoff. If you don’t get the ball to the 20 yard line, it goes to the 45. You can’t punt the ball out of bounds, they want returns, they want excitement in this league. It’s also safety. They’re trying to implement rules the NFL might want later on.”
Although the Orlando Guardians host home games from Camping World Stadium, you probably didn’t know that all of the eight XFL teams practice out of North Texas in one of the XFL hub stadiums in Arlington. They then travel to their respective home fields for games.
“In the beginning, for a league like this, it’s probably about money and it’s cheaper to keep everyone in the same hub. If we release a player, we don’t have to spend for a trade-in for the guy to go to another team, they’re already there. A lot of advantages, for example: scrimmaging. You go right down the street to play another team, but it’s kind of weird to sit on the same plane as a team you’re playing and then you battle, you play the game, then have to ride back on the same plane, that’s interesting,” said Thomas.
The Orlando Guardians currently have 51 players on the roster, some hailing from Florida universities.
The Orlando Guardians are 0-4 so far this season, but there are more game left, with the championship game scheduled for May 13. Click HERE for the Guardians’ schedule.