So, Vince McMahon extended an invitation to erstwhile baseball player Tim Tebow to join him in the XFL 2.0.
We think he should consider it, since he isn’t really much of a ball player — with USA Today Sports confirming as much. At Class A Columbia in the New York Mets system, Tebow hit a robust .220 and compiled an eye-rolling .648 OPS, with three homers and 23 RBI in 64 games.
Not really major league material, now, or ever.
For that matter, Tebow wasn’t that much of a football player either. A flash in the pan who milked the whole cult of celebrity for everything it was worth.
The mere fact that Vince McMahon wants to extend Tebow’s over-long 15 minutes of fame — to 2020 and possibly beyond — is precisely why the Christian QB/Outfielder should take him up on it.
By the year 2020, when the XFL supposedly gets cranked up to be competition for a stodgy, rule-ridden NFL that sorely needs it, Tebow will be 33.
He might be a great candidate who would put bums in seats and interest advertisers and investors, but we can think of 16 more, two for each prospective team, who might be good fits based on talent and/or notoriety. Remember, this is tongue-in-cheek, considering Tebow’s dubious skills and age.
16. Chad Johnson
By 2020, they may have to let Ochocinco use a walker to hit the field and provide him is own oxygen on the bench, but as of 2017 he was still active — catching exactly one pass for 41 yards and a TD with Mexico’s Monterrey Fundidores. Yup, that’s right the Fundidores, which in English translates to “Smelters.” How sexy. One of the game’s most self-centered –and most talented — wide receivers just can’t seem to give it up. That’s why, should he stay fit and keep those silky mitts supple, he’d be a popular addition to XFL, The Sequel. Like McMahon, he’s brash, outspoken and has been successful. And Johnson could revive the cool nicknames popularized in the XFL like that of Rod “He Hate Me” Smart. Prospective Nickname: “Me Quiero.”
15. Richie Incognito
The object of McMahon’s future venture will be to put bums in the seats and get a network to throw gobs of money at the XFL for TV rights. That’s why the players listed here come with at least a little bit of baggage, to go along with talent. Once suspended for using racial slurs, the Buffalo Bills four-time Pro Bowl offensive guard was accused again of racist epithets by a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Apparently, Incognito was running his mouth at the Jags’ Yannick Ngakoue during Buffalo’s 10-3 loss to Jacksonville in the wild card game in January. While many would just have let it pass, it is Incognito after all and a tiger doesn’t change his stripes. Incognito is a free agent in 2019 and in 2020 he will be 37. Maybe he ought to ink a one-year deal and wait for McMahon and minions to sweeten the pot. Prospective Nickname: “Ain’t No Bully.”
14. Colin Kaepernick
Would banned quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who’ll likely still be unemployed in 2020 — have a place in McMahon’s spanking new league? Yes, maybe and no. McMahon has gone on record as saying it would be “appropriate” if XFL players stood for the anthem, which is the football career hill that Kaepernick is and was willing to die on. However, McMahon, who wouldn’t publicly admit to it, probably factored in the players protest — started by Kaepernick — and how it has hurt the NFL and its sliding ratings, into his business decision. That’s the yes and no part. The maybe is Kaepernick’s ability to throw a football, two-plus years from now. He’ll be 32 when the XFL 2.0 cranks into high gear and with a grievance in against the NFL for alleged collusion in denying him work, his arm may be mighty rusty by then. Prospective nickname: “Tiene Una Rodilla.”
13. Vontaze Burfict
Ask any football fan, or for that matter any player, who the dirtiest player in the NFL is and Vontaze Burfict’s name inevitably pops up. The talented linebacker has a reputation for extra-curricular nonsense, yet he can be as dominant a defensive back Von Miller, if he keeps his act clean. However, Burfict’s sins on the field saw him sit out the first three games of the 2017 season for a hit he laid on Kansas City’s Anthony Sherman in the pre-season. Even still, the Bengals extended the bad boy for three years and $36.68 million at the beginning of the regular schedule. That little windfall takes the oft-suspended All-Pro to 2020, when he turns 30. His status at that point will depend largely on his ability to avoid the wrath of the NFL’s player safety department. Otherwise, he would be a draw in the XFL. Prospective nickname: “Me Hate Me.”
12. Nick Foles
Where exactly, does Nick Foles fall in the Super Bowl champion Eagles plans? A few days post-Super Bowl, we can’t help but wonder if the game’s MVP is on the trade market. What we mean is, he may go from celebrated hero in the City of Brotherly Love to forgotten back-up pivot unless he is dealt elsewhere. Carson Wentz is sure to draw back in as starter in 2018, leaving Foles on the outside looking in. Thrust into the pressure cooker when Wentz went down, Foles just got better and better as the games grew in stature. He absolutely shredded the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship and then went out and beat Tom Brady in LII, for Pete’s sake. Now, having touched the Lombardi Trophy and received the adoration of millions of Philadelphians, he might be looking for work elsewhere. In the XFL, a QB with his size and ability wouldn’t have to share the limelight with anybody. Prospective nickname: “Foles Gold.”
11. Terrell Owens
Like his archnemesis Chad Johnson, newly minted Hall of Famer Terrell Owens is a “me first” kind of guy who just happened to be one the game’s greatest wide receivers. As good as he was — T.O. was a five time All Pro and top 10 in all major statistical categories — Owens had and still has a reputation for being a trash-talker of the nth degree and ultimate show-off. Even though he hasn’t caught a NFL pass in anger since 2010, Owens just can’t let the game go, hinting at un-retirement but ultimately finding no takers for a 44-year-old wideout with delusions of grandeur. He was still running routes, though, in 2017 for his own eponymous team in the newly formed American Flag Football League. So who knows whether he could pull a Minnie Minoso and attempt a pro comeback at age 46 in 2020? Minoso was 50 when he got his last hit in the big leagues, so anything is possible. Prospective nickname: “HOF.”
10. Adrian Peterson
The way things are going for Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson, he may be unemployed heading into the 2019 season — or before. He’s signed to a friendly deal that will pay him just $2.8 million in 2018, which is just about the right money for his production. A seven-time All-Pro who has led the league in rushing as late as 2015, Peterson gained just 529 yards and scored two touchdowns in 10 games with New Orleans and ‘Zona in 2017. At age 32, he may not be washed up but his contractual status come 2020 might be a little more fluid than it is now. With his name and ability, McMahon and the XFL would be foolish not to at least offer him a deal to play on one of eight teams. And with recent news that he has been ordered to pay $600,000 to a Minneapolis bank for defaulting on a loan, he may need the work. Prospective nickname: “Bank Hate Me.”
9. Eli Manning
If the XFL needs a QB with instant name recognition and the superb dance skills he showed off in that Super Bowl LII spot, Eli Manning is the league’s man. Never afraid to show off his goofy side, especially with famous brother Peyton, Eli may be looking for work come 2020 when his contract with the Giants expires. We think he might be gone from the Giants before that, considering the lack of respect shown to his iron man streak this past horrible season. In 2020, Eli will be 39, the exact same age that his older bro was when he threw his last pass on the road to the Hall of Fame. Sibling rivalry might dictate that the younger Manning might want to trump Peyton’s longevity and throw passes in the XFL past 40. Besides, if the league needs a nerdy pitch-man, Eli is it. Prospective nickname: “Archie’s Fave.”
8. Aqib Talib
Talib is another one of those love him or hate him guys. Known for being a dirty player, the Denver Broncos no doubt love the fact that the five-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro corner is on their team. Everyone else, well, they probably just hate his guts. The soon-to-be 32 year old Cleveland native owns the eighth richest contract among all NFL cornerbacks and it expires in 2019, leaving him a free agent in 2020. He could be one of the first defensive backs to jump ship to XFL 2.0 then, if McMahon comes calling. He is still a very effective back 10 years into his career and the XFL will need name recognition — and talent — when it cranks up operations. Using mostly anonymous players, especially on defence, won’t be of benefit to prospective new teams. Prospective nickname: “El Estudiante.”
7. Travis Kelce
Other than the Gronk, no tight end gets paid more to play his position than the Kansas City Chiefs’ All-Pro tight end. We foresee a bit of a problem going forward, as QB Alex Smith was traded to Washington. Kelce had three straight Pro Bowl seasons and an All-Pro nod in 2016, due in part to the arm of Alex Smith. With relatively untested QB Patrick Mahomes running the show in 2018, Kelce may not come close to the 83 catches for 1,038 yards and career high eight TDs he had in 2017. Kelce’s contract will pay him just under $10 million in the upcoming campaign, after which there is a potential out. The popular pass-catcher will be 30 when McMahon cuts the ribbon on the new and improved XFL and should things not work out well in K.C. the flamboyant Ohio native could be the league’s name brand tight end. Prospective nickname: “Fashion Plate.”
6. Marshawn Lynch
Skittles might be the new favorite brand of XFL 2.0, especially if the retired, un-retired Marshawn Lynch needs a place to un-retire again. The Oakland Raiders star running back still has all the talent in the world and a Super Bowl ring, but he doesn’t have a contract beyond 2018 and may have been a little underpaid for the 891 yards and seven touchdowns he put up in 2017. As an added bonus, the XFL would have a mono-syllabic antidote to any of the prospective long-winded and outspoken individuals the league might employ come 2020. With a new coaching staff fronted by Jon Gruden, players are being evaluated and knowing Lynch, if the evaluation isn’t favorable, he could walk away from the NFL a second time. Prospective nickname: “No Words.”
5. Ndamukong Suh
Another one of the NFL’s bad boys is also one of the league’s best defensive lineman and a workhorse at that. Since breaking in with Detroit in 2010, Suh has missed all of two games in eight seasons, both for a violent stomp in 2011 that gave him a rep as a dirty player. A five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, Suh probably hasn’t read “How to win friends and influence people” but as a star lineman he isn’t out to hug his opponents and tell them everything is going to be all right. In 2015, Suh signed the richest deal for any DL in the league, agreeing to a monster six-year, $114.375 million contract to play for Miami until 2020. By that year, he’ll be 33 and if the Fish want to cut ties early, we’re quite sure a XFL exec will be happy to welcome him to the fold. Prospective nickname: “Thumper.”
4. Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham and Eli Manning have more than just pass-catching/pass-throwing chemistry, they also have moves that could get them booked on Dancing With The Stars. The two were not afforded much on-field time together in 2017, but were featured in a hilarious commercial aired during Super Bowl LII. After three straight Pro Bowl campaigns, Beckham sustained a broken ankle, appearing in just four games and registering 302 yards receiving and three touchdowns. It was part and parcel of a miserable 3-13 year that should net the Giants a decent pick in the 2018 draft. ODB was the fastest rising young star in the NFL until that injury and he is under control only for the 2018 season. If the Giants franchise tag him after next season, entertaining an offer from the XFL post-2019 season would be in his best interests. Prospective nickname: “The Do.”
3. Johnny Manziel
Even less so than Colin Kaepernick, we’re not sure if Johnny Football will ever throw another pro pass. We think that his football career is in a kind of perma-frost, to be unearthed with yet another gimmicky flourish. The CFL comeback with the Hamilton Tiger Cats has effectively died on the vine and there won’t be any NFL contracts pushed through his agent/mouthpiece. Even with his football career in tatters — and his ever scrutinized private life — Manziel’s story is still compelling. Any new football league looking to gain fans and followers on social media would be stupid not to at least talk to Manziel about tossing the pigskin. And, he would be in his prime still at 27 when the league opens the doors in 2020. Prospective nickname: “2 Legit 2 Quit.”
2. Richard Sherman
Optimus Prime was not laying the smack — whether physical or verbal — on too many opposing receivers and running backs with his Achilles tendon problems in 2017. He finally ruptured it in Week 10 and was done for the season. One of Seattle’s greatest defensive backs had to watch from the sidelines, then, as his team went 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Sherman has stated recently that he is good to go for 2018, which coincidentally is the last year of a four-year, $56 million contract. Even though he has said he is 100 percent for 2018, the Seahawks may think otherwise and try to save themselves significant dollars by releasing him. At that point, Vince McMahon should have him on speed dial, begging him to sign a deal in his fledgling league. Prospective nickname: “BMOC.”
1. Rob Gronkowski
If the Gronk is worried about concussions, or just hates NFL rules about what is a catch and the overlong nature of games, he’d be a perfect fit in the XFL. Not that he couldn’t sustain a head injury there, it would just be mitigated by games that McMahon says won’t exceed two hours, or something like that. For the XFL, having the big personality, not to mention the talent of New England’s party loving tight end could result in significant financial gain. Heck, even if he never played a down due to health concerns, the Gronk could be put on a personal services contract by McMahon to be the league’s spokeperson and social coordinator. He’ll also be ripe for the taking in 2020, as his six-year contract with the Patriots runs out in 2019. Prospective nickname: “Party Bus.”