Since the XFL is on hiatus, leaving our defacto World Champion Houston Roughnecks in limbo until at least next year, the USFL has returned to fill the void. With them comes the resurrection of the Houston Gamblers.
While it’s been a minute since the Gamblers, or at least a team with that name, took the field back in 1985, the new incarnation is here to distract us from the non-professional football antics of McEasterby and his Fortnite Crew. Veteran collegiate head coach Kevin Sumlin is calling the coaching and general manager shots for the Gamblers. Yesterday saw the USFL draft get underway, and Sumlin chose quarterback Clayton Thorson with the franchise’s first draft pick.
Day 1 of the #USFLDraft is in the books! #AllIn pic.twitter.com/G9FnaEWIYG— Houston Gamblers (@USFLGamblers) February 23, 2022
POCKET ACES— Houston Gamblers (@USFLGamblers) February 23, 2022
Clayton Thorson is a Gambler. #AllIn pic.twitter.com/Zw8YrFY08J
The Gamblers might have won big with Thorson, perhaps the most prototypical quarterback selected Tuesday.
Prior to earning a fifth-round selection by the then-defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles back in 2019, Thorson threw for 10,731 yards and 61 touchdowns, with 27 more scores on the ground, in his four seasons for a Northwestern squad that finished 36-17 during his time as a starter in the highly competitive Big Ten.
Thorson, 26, also spent with time with the Cowboys and Giants before being selected by the Gamblers at No. 5 on Tuesday.
Counting down the days until we get to see Clayton Thorson take the field #Allin pic.twitter.com/SGR4obYc6Q— Houston Gamblers (@USFLGamblers) February 23, 2022
With Houston’s second pick, Sumlin and crew decided to bring the pain by selecting an EDGE they hope turns out to be Houston’s newest sackmaster.
Welcome to the Gamblers #AllIn— Houston Gamblers (@USFLGamblers) February 23, 2022
Houston has selected Chris Odom in the #USFLDraft pic.twitter.com/hOZ1hX4N8C
Here’s the full list of the Gamblers’ Day One selections, courtesy of Sporting News:
1-5: Clayton Thorson, QB
2-4: Chris Odom, DE
3-5: Ahmad Gooden, DE
4-4: Drequan Brown, DE
5-3: Brandon Hitner, OT
6-6: Avery Gennesy, OT
7-3: John Yarbrough, OT
8-6: Jamar Summers, CB
9-3: Will Likely, CB
10-6: Howard Wilson, CB
11-3: Jerry Cantave, CB
12-4: Kenji Bahar, QB
It’s nigh impossible for a start-up league, even one with the history of the USFL name, to truly challenge the behemoth that is the NFL. However, with the idiocy coming out of Houston Texans central lately, it’s a safe bet the Gamblers will indeed steal some of the Texans fans’ attention, hearts, and merchandising dollars if the USFL can put an entertaining product on the field.
If it weren’t for the pandemic, the Houston Roughnecks might very well have carved a solid fanbase out of the Texans fandom by now - and they still might. Especially after back-to-back four-win seasons for the Texans.
Pocket aces ♣️ pic.twitter.com/H04nU1jKcd— Houston Gamblers (@USFLGamblers) February 17, 2022
The new league plans to start play on April 16, 2022, with their playoffs and championship game played at the site of the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, the birthplace of American football. Here’s a USFL Primer on Fox Sports.
While I wish the Roughnecks were coming back this season, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced recently the XFL is partnering with the NFL to conduct research for player safety initiatives for their 2023 return.
In the meantime, let’s see what the Gamblers can do.