New XFL kicks off with entertaining debut in DC

FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2019, file photo, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck gestures during a press conference in Seattle.  When the XFL debuts in February, it will take a Star Trek approach of going where no football league has gone before. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2019, file photo, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck gestures during a press conference in Seattle. When the XFL debuts in February, it will take a Star Trek approach of going where no football league has gone before. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The debut of the new XFL had a punt blocked for a touchdown, a juiced-up crowd roaring for big plays and a player swearing during an in-game television interview.

The actual football was hit and miss. College national championship-winning former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones was the biggest star on the field and took the microphone to address fans before the start of a brand-new football league.

"This is for the love of football," Jones said. "Enjoy.”

Jones' D.C. Defenders beat the Seattle Dragons 31-19 Saturday afternoon in the opener of the new XFL that provided plenty of entertainment in person and on TV. It's far too early to tell if the XFL can take a foothold where its previous incarnation and the recently unsuccessful Alliance of American Football failed, but executives are willing to wait and see.

“For us, if the fans who attend and watch at home feel as though it was a good football game and they had a fun time either watching or being in this awesome venue with us, that's success,” XFL chief operating officer Jeffrey Pollack said. “We're taking a long term view in this. Success ultimately will not be measured in the first game or the first weekend or the first season."

The first weekend is a chance for football fans to catch a glimpse of some of the few players they might recognize. There's former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones with Dallas, former NFL QB Josh Johnson with San Diego and ex-Navy standout Keenan Reynolds playing for Seattle.

It's not the star power of the NFL, but billionaire Vince McMahon's latest venture is an attempt to capture the attention of hardcore football fans in the aftermath of the Super Bowl.

“Our expectation for this first season is for football fans to simply give us a look, give us a chance, sample us,” Pollack said. “We understand that fandom is earned. It's not given. ... We think that if you love football, you're going to love the XFL.”