Before COVID-19 turned the world upside down, before Hack Easterby managed to destroy the Houston Texans, before being a Texans fan was frowned upon, H-Town had a great football team. It wasn't the one you’re thinking of.
Since we could all use a break from the Deshaun Watson/Hack Easterby/Texans Meltdown storylines, let’s take a look at the other team in Houston—you know, the one that was actually the best in the league before play came to an abrupt halt. Hold the phones; this still ties back to Watson and McNair.
The XFL, a brainchild of WWE owner/founder Vince McMahon, floundered for a second time last year. This time it was due to COVID-19; however. In the wake of suddenly pulling the plug on the whole shebang, McMahon sold the league to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and a group of investors. Now Johnson is pulling a page from the old AFL playbook and looking to merge with another league - strength in numbers and all that. According to sources, the XFL and CFL are in discussions about what might lead to a merger.
While the American sports landscape is littered with dead leagues that tried to take on the NFL and lost (most famously the USFL), the Canadian Football League (CFL) has survived since 1958 and shows no signs of succumbing to the same issues American leagues have faced. In 1995, the CFL attempted expansion into the U.S., including a team known as the San Antonio Texans; the results were less than desirable and the experiment ended quickly. While there isn’t much to go on as far as the XFL’s burgeoning partnership with the CFL, it definitely shines some hope on the return of the Rock’s best team, the Houston Roughnecks. When play was suspended during the 2019-2020 season, the Roughnecks were the only undefeated team in the XFL. This got the attention of local fans, with attendance growing every game despite the oncoming pandemic.
With Cal McNair’s insistence on shooting the golden goose that is the Houston Texans, alienating players, season ticket holders, everyday fans, and local media personalities, Cal is unwittingly giving someone else the opportunity to boogie right in and steal Houston’s fanbase. Apparently someone in the NFL headquarters is onto this possibility, as the NFL filed to block the XFL’s trademark of the Roughnecks logo again, just over two months ago.
The NFL has opposed a trademark application for the XFL's Houston Roughnecks logo.— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) January 8, 2021
On December 28th, the NFL filed court documents claiming the Roughneck's logo was too similar to the Houston Oiler's logo.
Perhaps the first of many @TheRock vs. NFL battles?
Details #NFL pic.twitter.com/6z8J0znch1
If the XFL can merge with the CFL, and The Rock and his partners can generate enough interest, it’s quite possible that fans will jump ship from the Texans to the Roughnecks in light of the Kirby Lane Catastrophe unfolding before our eyes. There’s only so much any fanbase can take, and the continual tone-deaf behavior coming out of NRG Park has no end in sight.
When the AFL and NFL went to war, former AFL Commissioner Al Davis targeted the NFL’s marquee players. Al knew that fans follow stars, and by putting stars in AFL uniforms, he gained leverage. Imagine, for a moment, that Deshaun Watson does indeed sit out the 2020 season and Nick Caserio holds the line, refusing to trade him. At what point does The Rock go after Watson and ask the NFL if they smell what he’s cooking? Pulling a major superstar from the NFL, signing him to play in the same city for the same fanbase would not only fire off the greatest sports controversy in decades. It would immediately legitimize the XFL. Doing so with the backing of the CFL only strengthens the XFL’s position.
Of course, none of this would be any threat to the Texans if Cal McNair ditched Hack Easterby instead of giving him the keys to the kingdom. There’s an old joke that seems to apply to McNair here:
How do you set a fool up in a nice, small business? You put him in a large one and wait.
Never in a million years would anyone have thought the XFL was a threat to the NFL when it was brought back to life a few years ago. Now, thanks to Cal McNair and the CFL, the XFL could be not only a threat but quite possibly David to Easterby’s Goliath.