By; Jake Ellenbogen
It’s Thursday morning, March 14th, and the St. Louis BattleHawks are preparing to fly out to play the Tampa Bay Vipers this weekend. The BattleHawks are coming off the season’s worst game right after falling 15-6 to a reeling DC Defenders squad. However, determined to bounce back, the BattleHawks are preparing their gameplan to take on the new and improved Vipers with new starting quarterback Taylor Cornelius. However, little do they know that today is the same day that the league they are currently playing in, is about to be altered in a big way.
Following the night before’s terrifying conclusion in which NBA All-Star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the infamous pandemic Coronavirus, every league decided to suspend operations immediately. We saw the NBA first start the trend, what followed was a full sports lockout except for three. The XFL had still not made a decision, the PGA Tour was allowing their competitors to play and NASCAR has decided to continue racing without fans in the stands. This is all to prevent the spread of this disease. Unfortunately for the city of St. Louis, the players, the fans, the coaches and everyone involved, Oliver Luck had announced later that day that the season would end immediately, players would be paid their 2020 salary and they would resume operations for the 2021 season. Just like that, it was over.
No more kakaw chants, no more best home attendance in the league, no more watching Jordan Ta’amu and the guys operate on offense, no more watching 21-year-old star safety and future NFL Draft prospect Kenny Robinson. It was all over. Just like that. The BattleHawks would finish the season at 3-2 meaning the last game of their season was a loss that was unlike any game they had played all year. The loss to DC would have been the tiebreaker potentially, but since the BattleHawks never got to play the Defenders another time the XFL would have likely gone with the second tiebreaker which is net touchdowns and so the BattleHawks with that, would have won the East division. It’s truly a shame after last year’s AAF fold of the league and now the XFL really steps up and puts together a positive football product during spring and the season is canceled due to a pandemic.
What hurts the most is how the St. Louis fans who adopted this team as one of their own, who was truly behind them and ultimately led the charge to open up additional seating at The Dome were given the worst ending to the season. The BattleHawks finished 2-0 at home, they allowed the fewest touchdowns of any team in the XFL and really looked like a potential championship-level team. Now, let’s not sit here and pretend that all are other sports aren’t locked down but after the loss of the St. Louis Rams, the city has really wanted and needed a replacement football team and they got them.
Anytime the last game of the year ends in a loss it’s brutal. The fact that the fans know the BattleHawks were undefeated at home and never had an opportunity to go play another home game with increased seating leaves a mark. Now, let’s also not neglect the fact that Luck confirmed there will be XFL football in 2021 but still, while cities like Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Tampa Bay, New York, DC and Seattle all just wait until the NFL season starts, St. Louis is left to wait until the XFL starts back up next year. It’s absolutely brutal and you have to feel for the city.
The thing that gets even tougher is the future of this team. Will Jordan Ta’amu move onto the NFL and potentially have enough of an impact to bypass his 2021 season with the BattleHawks? Did Kenny Robinson play his last game in the XFL? It is more than likely he has. Will the BattleHawks stay healthy for another year before the second XFL season commences? That’s not a given. There’s just so much uncertainty in the air which leaves St. Louis fans wondering if their franchise face Ta’amu is going to remain the face of the franchise.
Time will certainly tell us a lot but for now, it’s goodbye to football in St. Louis until next year, it’s goodbye XFL until next year and the unfortunate goodbye to some of these guys that might move on from football after this year. Most importantly, St. Louis did its job, they took over the rebirthed XFL as the number one fanbase by a country mile, they showed their love and proved that football does belong back in St. Louis and it might not just be the XFL style of football either.
St. Louis, you deserved a better end to this year’s story.