The XFL is blazing a new trail of diversity and inclusion for professional football, announcing its eight head coaches for its 2023 season, of which three are Black.
The head coaches include Black former NFL players Hines Ward, Reggie Barlow, and Terrell Buckley. They join Anthony Becht, Jim Haslett, Wade Phillips, Bob Stoops, and Rod Woodson.
“Hines Ward and Rod Woodson are two of the best to ever do it at their positions,” said Champ MC, host of “Championship University Podcast.”
“They are also two of the most cerebral and intelligent stars in the history of the game and represent one of the flagship franchises. You can’t buy this kind of legendary coaching in the NFL.”
The season is the inaugural one under the new leadership of Dany Garcia, co-owner and chairwoman of the XFL. She is also the first woman to be an equal or majority stakeholder in a professional sports league in the U.S.
A League Of Firsts
“Our head coaches are a diverse group of leaders, champions and hall of famers with experience competing and coaching at the highest level in football. Not only will they be mentors to our players, but they are also ambassadors of the XFL as we work together to build tomorrow’s league,” said Garcia via statement.
“What is most exciting about our talented coaches is that they all share our vision for the XFL and are committed to advancing the game of football for players and making it into a must-watch program for fans. The XFL is anchored in the belief of opportunity, and, just like our players, these football legends will drive the future of the game.”
According to the league, the XFL kicks off in February 2023, but since January, the league has been attending college pro days, NFL Combine, and actively recruiting players for the 2023 season.
However, it is just the latest announcement from the burgeoning organization showcasing its very intentional desire to evolve football culture.
The XFL announced its exclusive partnership with the NFL Alumni Academy, an elite in-season training program for “NFL-ready” players led by former NFL coaches and players, earlier this month.
According to a statement, “the XFL and the NFL Alumni Academy will enhance the football ecosystem by combining their scouting and training expertise to develop the next best players in the game and offer more opportunities to play professional football.”
The selection of former NFL players who have not been part of the NFL head coaching ranks is a start towards leveling the playing field by providing a platform.
Pittsburgh Steelers legend Hines Ward joins the league from Florida Atlantic University, where he was the wide receivers coach.
A 13-year NFL veteran and two-time Super Bowl champion (XL, XLIII), Ward was selected in the third round by the black & gold in the 1998 NFL draft, where he spent his entire NFL career and is still the team’s all-time leader in receptions.
Meet Your Coaches
Terrell Buckley’s last coaching stint was at the University of Mississippi, where he spent two years as the cornerbacks coach.
Also a 13-year NFL veteran, the Super Bowl XXXVI champion Buckley was selected fifth overall by the Green Bay Packers in the 1992 draft. He played for the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, New York Jets, and New York Giants.
Hines Ward was an incredible receiver as a player, catching 1,000 passes for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns during his time with the Steelers. In 2017, he joined their coaching staff as an offensive intern.
Two years later, Ward began his coaching career as a full-time offensive assistant for the New York Jets. In 2021, he was named special assistant to the head coach for Florida Atlantic’s football program.
Earlier this year, the Houston Texans interviewed Ward for their head coaching vacancy.
Another Steelers legend, Rod Woodson, will also be lending his extensive knowledge of the game at the highest levels to the development of XFL players
Reggie Barlow joins the league from HBCU Virginia State University. He has spent the past six seasons as VSU’s head coach.
Barlow was selected in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars before playing for the Oakland Raiders and the Super Bowl XXXVII champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When Brian Flores is challenging NFL culture, the XFL is also working to advance Black coaches’ opportunities and force the game to recognize all its available and qualified coaching talents.