XFL 2015: The Champion
By: Connor Lenahan
As the dust settled on Monday Night Football near midnight last night, Emmanuel Sanders had put forth a valiant effort for Andrew Rebensky and his Oklahoma City Lions. However, it wasn’t quite enough.
By a final score of 1460-1405, the closest championship margin in league history, the 2015 XFL Champions are the Baltimore Bears and Laura LaBrecque. Laura joins Paul Bruzzano, Jason Kohn, and myself as the only owners to win championships in their first year. Laura is additionally the first female champion in league history.
This final game, our XFL Super Bowl, ended up being one of the most entertaining contests in league history. The Bears were projected to do well and largely did. Aside from a below average, albeit decent, Tom Brady performance the rest of her team did quite well. Brandon Marshall led the way with 300 points, and came narrowly close to scoring a third touchdown in the final Jets drive Sunday. By early afternoon it looked as if the Bears would walk to a championship.
Then Drew Brees happened.
Drew Brees had torn the plantar fascia in his right foot and was reportedly in tremendous pain all week. Many, including yours truly, projected that Brees might sit out the game, or get pulled early. At the very least he would struggle with the injury. Nope, none of those things happened. Brees led all players this week with an otherworldly 740 points that singlehandedly kept the Lions in the contest. Allen Hurns managed to catch fire late in the same Jaguars-Saints game, and combined with Brees for 1025 points. Those two gave Andrew 73% of his championship total, and made a cakewalk suddenly tense.
Emmanuel Sanders was left on Monday with only 185 points separating the teams. Sanders had a good game, scoring a touchdown with four catches for 67 yards, but he fell just short with only 130 points.
Game over. Super Bowl over. Season Over. The Bears stood tall.
In many ways, this seemed anticlimactic. The Bears were far and away the best team in the league this season despite being the third season. Minor injuries late caused a lineup juggle that kept a potential 11-2 team to only a 9-4 mark. After all, the Bears averaged 1575 points a game, the second highest by a team in the last six seasons (2011 Waverly Chargers were the only ones higher). The Bears had all-stars at seemingly every position. The weakest starters on the team were whoever was placed a flex – normally a utility player from the Patriots – and Matt Forte, the 13th overall running back in the league.
The Bears were always going to win. We all knew that months ago. But that’s not exactly what happened. While the Bears have their name on the title it didn’t come easy. That’s what makes me love this fake sport. Much like how the seemingly infallible 18-0 Patriots were projected to beat the Giants in Super Bowl 42 it didn’t come without a real fight. This game was winnable by either side until the literal last play of Monday Night Football. That’s drama. That’s awesome.
But most of all, this was a great night for the XFL as a whole. This isn’t a fantasy football league, this is a unifying group between those I hold closest to my heart. My family and my friends. Sharing something like this makes me proud. For nine years now we played along with an idea I had in 7th grade that I figured would be fun. Now it’s my favorite part of the year every single year.
I could go on and on about how Osteogenesis Imperfecta hasn’t allowed me to play sports and how this is interesting. But I don’t need to do that again. That’s secondary. I wouldn’t be starting for Penn State or Michigan right now anyway. No, this is about memories that stick with us, conversations at holiday gatherings, trash talk 24/7/365, and starting to plan for next year’s draft as of this afternoon. No, seriously, I’ve had multiple conversations about who we want to pick for the 2016 season already.
This is what we do, but more importantly, this is what we do together. What makes this as much fun as it is is when there are new wrinkles thrown into the league. Next year will be our 10th season playing together. We have a rookie champion holding the trophy, multiple new players ready to join and play, and potentially the next generation of my family – my younger cousins – ready to play in the big leagues sooner than later.
This is what we do. This is my life, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Because even if my hands aren’t on the trophy this season, the chase to get there keeps me with my favorite people doing my favorite thing.
Official 2016 XFL Draft Order
Kansas City is officially on the clock until August 2016.
- Kansas City Killers – (3-10) – Dan Schlosser
- Denver Blaze – (3-10) – Pat Haggerty & Ryan Gilbert
- Seattle Rage – (4-9) – Greg Fenn
- New Orleans Tigers – (4-8-1) – Paul Bruzzano
- Philadelphia Panthers – (5-8) – Matt Pettinato
- Chicago Hitmen – (5-8) – Jason Kohn
- New York Titans – (7-6) – Chase Lenahan
- Las Vegas High Rollers – (7-5-1) – Dan Griffith
- Pittsburgh Spikes – (8-5) – Matt Gronsky
- Green Bay Blizzard – (10-3) – Matt Bruzzano
- Waverly Chargers – (8-5) – Connor Lenahan
- Washington Senators – (10-3) – Cary Lenahan
- Oklahoma City Lions – (7-6) – Andrew Rebensky
- Baltimore Bears – (9-4) – Laura LaBrecque