ST. LOUIS — St. Louis football just can't catch a break, can it?
Our first NFL team is largely disappointing and ends up getting moved to Arizona by an owner who can't get a stadium he wants. Our second NFL team has early success that was soon followed by a decade plus of awfulness, capped off by our Missouri-born owner absconding with our team to Los Angeles and trashing our town in the process. And now we finally get professional football back, the town is excited, The Dome is rocking and the rest of the inaugural season gets canceled because of a worldwide pandemic.
It's like a cruel joke.
Obviously the XFL does not fall high on things we should be concerned about as a society right now, but it really is sad for St. Louis sports fans. Here was a team with so much momentum and positive energy behind it, stopped cold in its tracks.
There was likely going to be more than 40,000 people in The Dome this past weekend for the game against Los Angeles. The team was opening up new sections daily to fill demand. Now, we'll just have to imagine the anti-Kroenke chants in our heads. They're still wonderful either way.
Of course, the XFL has no intentions of going away quietly. It's not like this is it. The league has made it clear they are looking forward to a full year next year, to try and build some new momentum.
But no matter what we get from the BattleHawks going forward, it won't be quite the same as this first team. This was the team that proved people wrong, connected with their community and became a rallying cry for all St. Louis sports fans.
In just half of their inaugural season, the BattleHawks made their mark.
They had crazy TV ratings, sold more merchandise than any other XFL team, packed The Dome and oh yeah, they were pretty good on the field, too.
A 3-2 record isn't the most impressive thing in the world, but when this team was going right, they were fun to watch.
Quarterback Jordan Ta'amu became a fan favorite and one of the best players in the league. Ta'amu parlayed his gaudy XFL stats into a contract with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, and I expect he'll be just the first BattleHawk to head to the NFL.
Kicker Taylor Russolino and punter Marquette King were dominant and had some of the most fun of any players in the league.
Receiver L'Damian Washington and tight end Marcus Lucas got to return to play in Missouri and embrace Mizzou fans who were eager to root for them.
Head coach Johnathan Hayes finally got to run a show after such a long time as an assistant.
And the team set the new standard for locker room celebrations. Excuse me... that is "seltzer-brations".
The next incarnation of the BattleHawks won't be the same as the first. That's just the reality of things. The players will be different and the feeling won't be quite the same. But this was the team that did it. The team that brought football back.
Here's hoping the "Ka-Kaws" at The Dome next year remind us of how much fun this team was in 2020.