It’s the moment everyone pined for: a champion head coach in search of an elusive second title finally capturing it with a pro football team in Arlington that had been starving for success.
I’m talking, of course, about Bob Stoops and the Arlington Renegades, who are the inaugural champions of XFL 3.0 after upsetting the D.C. Defenders 35-26 in Saturday’s championship game. You can read this piece from October for a rundown on the particulars, but in a nutshell, this was the XFL’s first full season since its original incarnation in the late ‘90s following a pandemic-derailed revival in 2020. And, a month ago, you would be well within your rights to assume the Renegades would be an easy out: at 4-6, they were lucky to even creep into the playoff field, much less believe they could win it. Until this weekend, they hadn’t strung together back-to-back victories all season.
The pivot point came two-thirds of the way through the season, when Arlington acquired quarterback Luis Perez in a midseason trade with the Vegas Vipers. Within a matter of weeks, the offense spiked—the Renegades averaged 13 points per game prior to the deal and nearly 20 afterward—and, well, weird stuff happens in spring football. “Weird,” as in a sub-.500 team knocking off the top seed in its division (Houston, lol) before handing D.C. its second loss of the season.
Perez, who threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns, was named the championship game’s MVP. His official reward was an X-shaped trophy the size of a paperweight; the unofficial one was having it presented to him by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, whose company owns the league.
Is this the title Arlington football fans wanted? No, not really. But it’s a title nonetheless, and a 4-6 team rallying behind a quarterback acquired midseason to win it all should inspire even the most hardened Cowboys cynic that maybe, just maybe, another Super Bowl is somewhere on the horizon. And that would be well worth enduring a Roger Goodell trophy presentation instead of one from The Rock.