The Guardians debut shows why this XFL has a chance

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The confused seagulls needed more time than the football fans to prepare for a winter Sunday break.

The first weekend after the Super Bowl brought the smell of sausage and peppers, the sound of beanbags pounding on a cornhole board, and the sight of the familiar scavengers who returned to the MetLife parking lots for the first time since December 29 -Stadiums were.

An M-V-P song serenaded the quarterback, hands pounding the back of the chairs, making noise to aid the defense, and it rained down on officers during a retest.

Relaunched 19 years after the failure of his original violent incarnation, the football-oriented XFL returned with a 23-3 win by the New York Guardians against the Tampa Bay Vipers.

"I bet people are surprised at how good the game is," said Guardians coach Kevin Gilbride, former NFL head coach and Giants offensive coordinator. "Everyone who loves football has seen with their own eyes that this is something that I can leave behind."

An advertised crowd of 17,634 spectators – comparable to naked eye estimates for a Rutgers football game in 2019 – confined to the stadium's lower bowl, with 82,500 seats, filled the end zones and most of the home sideline. They came because they really wanted to – not out of family tradition or for fear of wasting money.

"I scream for the giants and expect to do the same here," said 25-year-old Anthony Largar, a season ticket holder for the giants and guards. "What has been so frustrating with the Giants lately is how many opposing fans are here. It's kind of cool that we all work for the same team. The more football the better."

XFL
Fans can watch the Guardians XFL kick-off at MetLife StadiumBill Kostroun

The XFL relies on it. A couple of refused passports can be issued against a traffic-free commute.

Chuck Marakovitz and his son Robert – family-owned Giants season tickets for 60 years – said they came because of the "raw fan aspect". The three-headed Knowlton family wore Guardians jerseys – still a rarity – and was more interested in "good football" and a new team that could stand out "than nibbling out of the trunk of White Castle.

There will be uncomfortable moments. A rabid fan warming up hung over the railing to give the home team a shot of adrenaline: "All day # 1!" He cried without knowing the name of the great recipient McKay Mekale.

"They call me number 1 at the moment, but soon they'll call me Big Play McKay," Mekale told Post. "We are real people. We love the support of the fans. It felt like a real soccer field. "

When former Penn State and Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin scored the first touchdown in Guardians history, he was confused by a fan of Mark Rayrath, Sugar Ray's lead singer.

After the second long kickoff return – the result of a few changes to the rules of the NFL – another fan shrugged: "I think that's normal."

"It was as much fun as playing football for a long time," said McGloin.

The XFL gives fans access who can't afford to get close to the NFL. The discount is the $ 30 ticket – the same price as parking – and possibly the chance to get your hands on a player like Andrew Soroh whom Lambeau jumped on after he was caught.

A large local beer was $ 12. A Guardians sweatshirt costs $ 56. The lines at both stands were 20 meters deep in the first half.

After almost two years of preparation, the football product is better than it was 19 years ago. A 45-yard pass from McGloin to McKay was the type of throw that didn't exist in XFL 1.0. There were big hits, but a player was kicked out because of a shot and the soccer ball didn't feel like a side effect.

At home, interest could increase in the ability to play the game from a mobile phone – at least in New Jersey – and in television technologies such as live list-ins to make calls.

The initial curiosity is over. Can the new XFL keep enough fans to succeed where its predecessors have failed?

"I could barely hear the calls over the microphone because of the amount of noise," said Soroh. "We really didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be great."

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