HOUSTON — Blake Jackson's reaction was like a lot of people's reactions around the world when the XFL was the latest American sports league to suspend play amid concerns regarding the coronavirus.
"I was in shock," Jackson said. "This is one of those things that will probably never happen again in our lifetime."
The former UMHB standout was a wide receiver on the Houston Roughnecks, the lone undefeated team in the XFL. The cancellation of the season put Jackson along with many others out of work for the time being.
"It is affecting jobs," Jackson said. "It's affecting people's money. It's affecting other little things outside just the virus itself."
Despite the XFL canceling the rest of their season, the league said in a statement that all players would be paid their base salary including benefits for the regular season.
"That was huge. They are definitely a player-friendly league," Jackson said. Instead of leaving guys out there to who literally live paycheck to paycheck, now guys are going to still save up their money, even though we are not playing this season."
King County health officials announced on March 5 that a stadium employee who worked at the Seattle Dragons home game on Feb.22 at CenturyLink Field also tested positive for the coronavirus. Three XFL teams were then put on alert Saturday after the league said that an unidentified Seattle Dragons player learned Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The unnamed player participated in the team's most recent game on March 7 against the Houston Roughnecks at TDECU Stadium. He self-reported symptoms on March 10 and was put in isolation.
"They did a really quick screening, took our temperature, just to see if we had a fever or not," Jackson said. "We did have a couple of guys on our team that did go into more of actual tests because they were showing more symptoms, so we are just waiting on those results to get back."
Jackson has self quarantined all weekend inside his home in Houston. Now that his season is over, Jackson went through his exit interview with the Roughnecks and is now free to sign an NFL or CFL contract.
"The XFL helped me out with the film aspect. I have film from the Roughnecks and right now, my agent has been on the phone with a couple of NFL teams."
As for the future of the XFL, the league said in its statement they are, "Committed to playing a full season in 2021 and future years." Jackson hopes to turn a disappointing outcome into another chance of playing in the NFL.
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