January 09, 2020
If you're old enough to remember the first incarnation of the XFL, there's a good chance you're ignoring most of the buzz about the reimagined league's exotic rules and faster pace. As aggravating as the NFL machine can be, no competition has thrived for very long in its shadow, even when its games are played in the NFL's offseason.
The original XFL played its lone season in 2001, the same year that Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers went on a magical run to the NBA Finals. You'd almost predict Iverson has a better chance of a comeback, but maybe the XFL will find a devoted audience.
Wide receiver Jeff Badet, who once spent time on the Minnesota Vikings' preseason roster, is now a member of the new XFL's Dallas Renegades. (Philadelphia isn't really obligated to hate the Renegades because there is no Philly team in the XFL).
Badet was seven when Iverson famously delivered the "practice rant" at a press conference on May 7, 2002. It was a significant enough moment to become part of the sporting world's cultural consciousness, even among those too young to remember how strangely Iverson succeeded as an iconoclast.
At a Renegades practice this week, Badet displayed a custom helmet visor with Iverson seated at the podium mid-rant.
These custom visors would have been a neat touch for the XFL, but they apparently won't be permitted during games. A source told XFLnewshub.com that the visors aren't allowed on game day because trainers may need to evaluate a player's eyes during a head or neck injury that requires immobilization.
The visors are somewhat reminiscent of the custom jersey names from the original XFL. Running back Rod Smart, who eventually joined the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad, had "He Hate Me" on the back of his jersey. It may be the most memorable legacy of the XFL, if we're being honest here.
Still, Badet and the rest of the players in the XFL will do their best to make the second time around stick. The homage to Iverson, who's a bit of a Cowboys fan, will surely be appreciated.
The XFL season kicks off Feb. 8, just six days after Super Bowl LIV in Miami.