Defenders officially pass on PFTCommenter

A week after what was likely the world’s most publicized kicking tryout, Eric Sollenberger, known by his Barstool Sports persona as PFTCommenter, got a FaceTime call from DC Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton. Hamilton explained to PFT that he was among the many cuts the Defenders coaching staff had elected to make, in an effort to whittle their final roster down to fifty-two.

Today, a day after he discovered his fate, PFT released a video on Barstool’s website detailing his inspiring journey, cut short by a team that clearly wanted him but couldn’t make it work.

The video begins with PFT practicing in character, sporting shades beneath a crimson red Defenders helmet. His practice kicks were clean, well-executed, and relatively consistent. From what was shown, he looked as good as any mid-tier Power 5 kicker in college football and it appeared he had a legitimate chance to make the final roster when he stepped on the turf in TDECU Stadium for his big moment.

PFTCommenter attempts a practice kick leading up to his official tryout with the Defenders on January 15th, 2020. Photo via PFTCommenter/Barstool Sports

As dozens of players, coaches, team executives, and media watched, PFT nailed more than half the kicks he attempted from various spots on the field. He explained to Pep that he was an “inside specialist” who, despite lacking long range, was accurate to “90% within 40 yards.”

The few kicks he missed clearly had the distance but were just slightly overcompensated laterally as he kicked from the opposite side’s hash mark. At the end of the tryout, there is easily discernible audio of, what is strongly implied to be, Coach Hamilton saying “very impressive,” inspiring confidence in both PFT and his fans watching the video online. Ultimately, Sollenberger said he had a “50/50” feeling about his chances to make the team.

PFTCommenter attempts a 35 yard kick from the right hash, missing a few inches left of the goalpost. Photo via PFTCommenter/Batstool Sports

The following week, during the call with Hamilton, Sollenberger took the news very well, especially considering the public nature of his situation. Both he and the XFL had tweeted extensively leading up to the tryout itself, and about the coming announcement of his roster status on January 22nd. Despite all the media attention, and PFTCommenter’s announcement that he would donate his entire XFL salary to “a hospital” if chosen, the DC Defenders could not find room for him on their already-tight roster. Although the final roster announcements will not be made until next Monday, it is likely the Defenders elected to utilize former Northwester Wildcats punter Hunter Niswander as a placekicker and use the extra roster slot for one of the many skill players who showed promise in training camp this past month.

Though PFTCommenter’s fans may have provided a short term bump to XFL viewership, it’s this bold move that exemplifies the true difference between the original XFL and this new iteration. The old XFL wouldn’t have waited a week to tell PFT he didn’t make it, they wouldn’t signed him on the spot.

The old XFL wasn’t about football, it was about attention. PFTCommenter would’ve fit in perfectly between Rod “He Hate Me” Smart on the field and Jesse Ventura in the booth. Yesterday, the XFL took an unpopular but mature step towards making the league as competitive as possible, at the expense of an enthusiastic, entertaining, but admittedly average kicker. Though PFTCommenter has a right to be proud of his efforts and his performance, so to do the Defenders who are already looking like a top tier team after the preseason.

If this was really a legitimate, no-strings tryout for PFT, then Pep Hamilton made a tough call. If it was a media stunt, well, then it damn sure worked.

Either way, PFTCommenter can rest easy with a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 knowing that, even though he won’t get to be “PATCommenter,” he’ll still be hoisted into the annals of history as one of the most famous people to ever try out as a professional placekicker.

Preseason: Guardians stand tall as Vipers struggle in scrimmage

HOUSTON – The Tampa Bay Vipers. and New York Guardians finished off the XFL Preseason slate under the lights in TDECU Stadium.

Guardians QB Matt McGloin made quick work of the Tampa Bay defense with a 76-yard touchdown pass to Colby Pearson, who avoided contact during a falling catch and was able to recollect himself and run to the end zone. The Vipers responded with their own touchdown pass, a 34 yard grab by WR Reece Horn, as well as two interceptions in the first quarter, leaving the score 7-6 heading into the second quarter.

With 11:48 remaining in the first half, Guardians WR Teo Redding stayed untouched as he secured a diving catch at the 5 yard-line and ran it in for an easy touchdown to extend New York’s lead. A 32 yard touchdown pass to Guardians WR Jake Powell, once again, stretched the lead to 14 before halftime.

Vipers wide receiver Daniel Williams made a statement with a 10 yard touchdown reception, early in the third quarter.

Several drives later, Guardians QB Marquis Williams connected with Austin Duke for a touchdown.

A 44 yard field goal make by Tampa Bay kicker Andrew Franks carved into the deficit slightly but left the Vipers with a lot of work to do, with very little time to do it. Ultimately, the task of a comeback would prove too overwhelming for the Vipers, who lost 27-15. After time expired in the fourth quarter, the teams practiced running through a five round, mock overtime period.

Preseason: Wildcats stage 2nd Half shutout to beat Roughnecks

HOUSTON – The hometown Roughnecks squared off with the Los Angeles Wildcats in the penultimate scrimmage of the XFL Preseason. Expectations were high for what would be a pass-heavy offensive showdown on the turf in TDECU Stadium.

Roughnecks K Sergio Castillo posted the first points of the game with an impressive 40+ yd FG, with 10 minutes left in the first quarter. The Wildcats quickly responded with a TD pass to WR Tre McBride, recently traded from DC, and converted a 2-point PAT to lead 8-3.

Early in the second quarter, Houston QB Phillip Walker found WR Sam Mobley on a short pass that turned into an elusive 40 yard surge to the end zone, putting the Roughnecks up by a single point, 9-8. The 3-point attempt was unsuccessful. Later in the quarter, Roughnecks QB Connor Cook launched a missile to WR Kahlil Lewis for a 55 yard TD pass, giving Houston a 15-8 advantage going into the half.

With 6:33 left in the third quarter, the Wildcats began to close the gap with a TD pass to Saeed Raashad, cutting Houston’s lead to 4. They proceeded to take the lead with another long TD pass, this time, to former Seminole WR Kermit Whitfield in the end zone. K Nick Novak made a FG with under seven minutes in the game to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 23-18.

The Wildcats held on to finish the 4th quarter with the lead and win the scrimmage, however the teams entered overtime to test the rules, in a similar fashion to Monday’s scrimmage between the Renegades and BattleHawks. The Wildcats won the five round OT shootout as well, outscoring the Roughnecks 1-0.

Preseason: Renegades survive late surge by BattleHawks

HOUSTON – The Dallas Renegades hosted the St. Louis BattleHawks Monday night in TDECU Stadium.

The first quarter saw even play between the teams and ended deadlocked at 0-0.

A second quarter bomb to Renegades standout WR Jazz Ferguson put the first points on the board. PAT Unsuccessful. Later in the quarter, RB Marquis Young punched in an explosive goal line run, putting Dallas ahead by two touchdowns. A touchdown reception by BattleHawks TE Cole Hunt in the corner of the end zone, slimmed the lead to 12-6 before halftime.

In the third quarter, Dallas DT Tyrell Thompson swatted a pass, setting DE Jonathan Calvin up for an easy interception. Renegades WR Simmie Cobb pulled down a TD to extend the lead going into the fourth.

The fourth quarter saw a major momentum shift as BattleHawks quickly scored a TD on offense. Then, as the Renegades sought to respond, LB Matthew Thomas intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown, bringing the deficit within a single score.

The Renegades, however, managed to retain the lead, winning 21-18. Following the end of regulation, the teams took the opportunity to test the XFL’s new overtime procedure.

In the first implementation of the XFL overtime rules, a five round shootout, the Dallas Renegades outlasted the St. Louis BattleHawks 25-22.

Up next:

Both teams will make their final roster adjustments by Wednesday before the BattleHawks return to the Longhorn State for a true road game against the Renegades in the newly revitalized Globe Life Park.

Preseason: D.C. Defenders outlast Seattle Dragons

HOUSTON – The first of four scrimmages between XFL teams was an excellent showcase for what will be a league of endless highlights and close games.

The game was also a de-facto clinic for D.C. Defenders’ DB Tyree Kimmel, who had a dominant performance in the second half.

The Defenders hosted the Seattle Dragons on neutral turf in Houston at TDECU Stadium. Neither team displayed a clear advantage going into the half, where the score stood tied at 10-10.

Beginning the second half, Defenders Tyree Kinnel intercepted Seattle QB Brandon Silvers and returned it for six within the first minutes of the 3rd quarter.

Later in the 3rd, Seattle linebacker Nick Temple intercepted a pass from Defenders QB Cardale Jones and running back Ja’Quan Gardner gave the Dragons an answer on the ground for six.

Seattle CB Marco Myers responded with a late pick, giving the Dragons some momentum, while trailing 21-16 late in the game. The Dragons would end up driving down the field, having a comeback victory within grasp, however a critical pass breakup by Kimmel, intended for Dragons TE Evan Rodriguez, sealed the game for the Defenders.

Defenders win 21-16.

Up Next:

Both teams will make their final cuts by Wednesday, January 22nd before making last minute adjustments for their season opener.

The two teams will meet again in DC for the inaugural game of the XFL on February 8th at 2:00PM.

Double Trade Update

The St. Louis BattleHawks finished the week a little lighter on the offensive line, trading guards Avery Young and Dejon Allen to the New York Guardians in exchange for cornerback David Rivers and offensive tackle Brian Wallace.

The move is getting positive reaction on BattleHawks Twitter.

Will the XFL give us the biggest kicker in history?

The Houston Roughnecks ended the week on a high note with some extra placekicking practice for former Titan Offensive Guard and certified monster Sebastian Tretola. The video, posted to the team’s twitter page, shows him lining up for a field goal kick on the sideline of TDECU Stadium in Houston, where the Roughnecks will play their home games.

The tweet, directed at Barstool Sports personality Eric Sollenberger, better known as PFTCommenter, references his impressive tryout for the DC Defenders earlier this week as a kicker.

PFT Commenter’s tryout followed an announcement by six-time Bengals Pro-Bowler Chad Johnson, formerly Chad Ochocinco, announcing that he would be returning to the game, as an XFL Kicker.

While both kicking prospects will undoubtedly stir up fan interest, the Roughnecks letting Tretola take snaps as a kicker would not only be interesting but historical.

The heaviest kicker in professional football history, the lefty Raiders veteran kicker Sebastian “Seabass” Janikowski checked in at a comparatively paltry 6’1 / 265 lbs. Tretola, on the other hand was listed as 6’4″ and 315 during his time in Nashville.

Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports

Assuming he’s kept the weight on, he would be the heaviest kicker in professional football history if Special Teams coordinator Dennis McKnight lets him record an in-game kick attempt.

Updated XFL Championship Odds

Major online sports book BetOnline.com has posted updated odds for the 2020 XFL Championship. The five teams with the best odds match Bovada Sportsbook’s odds that were posted in August of 2019.

BetOnline Sportsbook odds for outright 2020 XFL Championship as of January 16, 2020.

TeamOdds
Dallas Renegades+300
New York Guardians+400
LA Wildcats+500
Tampa Bay Vipers+500
Houston Roughnecks+750
DC Defenders+800
St. Louis BattleHawks+900
Seattle Dragons+1000

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

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