The inaugural XFL Draft will be held Oct. 15-16 and a pair of former Missouri Tigers football standouts currently find themselves without jobs in the NFL. Hmmmm.
There is no word if linebacker Shane Ray and defensive lineman Ziggy Hood are interested in pursuing a pay check with the XFL – but if I were in the St. Louis Battlehawks front office, I would have already contacted them.
A Kansas City native, Ray was drafted in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft by Denver and was with the Broncos four seasons. He looked prime for stardom during his rookie year, but injuries plagued him. He signed as a free-agent with Baltimore in the offseason, but was among the Ravens’ final cuts before the regular season began in September.
Ray was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and was a consensus first-team All-American player after leading the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss.
After playing the first five seasons of his 11-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hood played for Jacksonville, Chicago (two games), Washington and Miami. A former first-round pick like Ray, Hood was among the final players cut by the New Orleans Saints on August 31.
Of the two players, I would say Hood has the better chance of playing for the Battlehawks. There is still a chance that a team could find a need for Ray, who is just 26, as linebacker injuries pile up in the NFL.
Both Ray and Hood would only be eligible for non-guaranteed contracts if signed by an NFL team. Players will have until December to accept a deal from an NFL team – which is when XFL teams will hold minicamps.
The XFL has released its first list of draft prospects, and names will be added until Friday. Neither Ray or Hood’s name was included on the initial list. In addition, the XFL will hold a supplemental draft in November that will include players cut by NFL teams after next week’s draft.
Recognizable names from nearby schools on the XFL’s draft prospect list include former Missouri linebacker Eric Beisel, Southern Illinois cornerback Chris Davis, Missouri State wide receiver Deion Holliman and Illinois receiver Tim Lukas.
While quarterbacks will be assigned to teams and not drafted, I hope St. Louis lands former Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas.
Thomas led the Ducks to the 2011 BCS National Championship Game against Auburn and compiled almost 6,000 yards passing and 66 touchdowns during his collegiate career. He was named the MVP of the 2012 Rose Bowl after leading the Ducks to a victory over Wisconsin.
Battling for your bucks
Would you pay $90 to sit in a lower level seat between the 40-yard lines for a Battlehawks’ game?
That’s what the team is seeking for its highest priced tickets. There is no break in price if you purchase a five-game season ticket, it’s $450.
Ticket prices are based on Tier Levels one through six in the Dome at America’s Center. All fans will sit in the lower level, with no seats available in the upper reaches of the stadium.
Here is the breakdown of the other single-game and season ticket costs:
Tier Two, $75, $375; Tier Three, $55, $275; Tier Four, $35, $175; Tier Five, $30, $150; Tier Six, $20, $100.
Suites and field seats will also be available, according to the Battlehawks site at xfl.com, but no details were available as of Tuesday.
The value of a game ticket will depend on the level of play on the field, and throughout the XFL. But I would say most of the seats are affordable and offer a good view of the action if you wanted to take your family to a game.
Another bite for KU
With KU’s basketball program under allegations of wrongdoing by the NCAA, you would think that coach Bill Self and Athletic Director Jeff Long would be laying low – at least until the regular season gets underway in a few weeks.
While a contract was probably signed before the crap hit the fan three weeks ago, Snoop Dogg was hired to entertain following the annual Late Night at Phog Allen Field House in celebration of the Jayhawks’ official first practice.
While Self and KU officials were expecting a PG-rated show, Snoop delivered the real deal. Clad in a KU basketball jersey and flanked by dancers on stripper poles, Snoop let the profanity fly and fired a money gun at the crowd – and then at players.
I’m not making this up, people. The school accused of either ignoring or being too ignorant of financial shenanigans involving Self, assistant coach Kurtis Townsend and Adidas, had Snoop on its historic court firing a money gun.
It didn’t actually start there. In a promo video for the event, Self is wearing a shirt with a big Adidas logo on it and a thick, gold chain with big dollar sign attached.
“I didn’t know that there was going to be anything like that," Self said of Snoop’s show.
"I was told this was radio-edited and everything else. … But no, that’s not the direction that anybody at our school would want that to go at all.
"I only stayed for a couple songs. I wasn’t feeling well so I went back in the locker room. So, I didn’t see the majority of what went down but certainly I got a pretty good idea based on the first couple songs."
The performance was after midnight – and KU had issued an apology before dawn.
“We apologize to anyone who was offended by the Snoop Dogg performance at Late Night,” Long said in a statement.
“We made it clear to the entertainers’ managers that we expected a clean version of the show and took additional steps to communicate to our fans, including moving the artist to the final act of the evening, to ensure that no basketball activities would be missed if anyone did not want to stay for his show.
“I take full responsibility for not thoroughly vetting all the details of the performance and offer my personal apology to those who were offended.”
The crazy part about this latest KU basketball controversy is that it will probably help, not hurt, future recruiting.
Coaches from Battle High School and Hickman High School linked arms and prayed before their intra-city rivalry game in Columbia last Friday. Players joined their respective captains on the field for the coin toss in a show of unity.
It was in response to the ugly incident at Jackson when, allegedly, fans shouted racial insults at Battle players and cheerleaders.
Hickman coach Cedric Alvis said, “That was to show support for last week.
“All the negativity that was going on and what was said. Us doing that was a ‘we got you, we support you, we’re behind you’ kind of deal.”
Battle coach Atiyyah Ellison called the display of unity, “therapeutic.”
Meanwhile in Jackson, Superintendent John Link said the district could find no factual evidence that any of Battle’s allegations are true. He said administrators reviewed video, talked to parents, players, referees and police.
Feel free to burst out laughing or crying. This is such a total sham.
Jason West with the Missouri State High School Activities Association said “everyone involved is still in the early stages of nailing down what happened (last) Friday.”
Nothing is going to be done to Jackson, folks. The MSHSA might give them a first-round bye in the state tournament, not a punishment.
The Reid Roundup
Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant avoided a serious knee injury after a late, cheap hit by a defensive lineman during last week’s trouncing of Troy. He should start the homecoming game against Mississippi on Saturday … Tigers stellar linebacker Cale Garrett is probably lost for the season with a torn pectoral tendon … Penny Toler served as L.A. Sparks GM for 20 years. She lost her job last week after shouting the N-word at players for about 20 seconds after a loss in the WNBA playoffs. Toler is black, by the way … A bit of trivia: Toler scored the first basket in WNBA history … Patrick Mahomes is nursing a tender ankle, but it will still be quite a show on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs host Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans … The NFL rumor mill has Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin headed to Washington to take over that troubled franchise … My choice for the name of St. Louis expansion MLS team is the St. Louis Mercury. I’m a space nut, and St. Louis role in putting men on the moon was at its highest during the Mercury missions.
Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” Find him on Twitter at @aareid1.