Will San Antonio’s newest football team last?

I went to the XFL San Antonio Brahmas opening game and here are my takeaways


Andrew Duong

Student streaming first Brahmas game while in library

On Sunday, Feb. 19, I attended the home opener of the San Antonio Brahmas at the Alamodome, where they suffered a close and crushing defeat to the St. Louis Battlehawks.

Both teams are part of the XFL, a spring football league that is back from the dead for the second time. It originally folded after one season in 2001 due to low ratings, then went bankrupt after its revival in 2020 when it canceled its season after four weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously owned by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) chairman Vince McMahon, the league is now under the direction of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia.

In addition to being a league to fill the spring football void, the XFL is also serving as a testing ground for new rules and a place for non-National Football League (NFL) players or former NFL players who didn’t play much to prove themselves.

While the XFL has seen initial success, the longevity of the XFL and the Brahmas will be contingent on the product both on the field and the game day experience. As such, I will be assessing the Brahmas game in both respects.

There were over 24,000 fans in attendance, which was phenomenal compared to other games that same weekend, and they were excited from the opening kickoff.

When the game started, I noticed issues with the PA system, as they struggled to find a consistent volume and bass level for music, which would often leave awkward silence during stoppages of play.

The game itself also got off to a slow start, as there were no scores until the Brahmas kicked a field goal 12 minutes into the first quarter. The play on the field continued to be very slow through the second and third quarters, but the Alamodome eventually got its act together and created a fun environment.

I thought early on that the lack of cheerleaders and a mascot would be a problem, but the work of emcees Aerin Carreno and Chuck Cureau put that out of my mind. They were all over the stadium and did a great job engaging the fans and making the game more fun.

The PA was also better after the first quarter. While I found the music choices somewhat strange, the volume became better and awkward pauses were minimized. This facilitated a great atmosphere for the exciting end of the game.

The Brahmas scored a touchdown and a field goal in the fourth quarter, giving them a 12-point lead with three minutes remaining. Traditionally, that lead would be nearly insurmountable, but XFL rules meant it was not over.

One rule is the 3-point option for conversions after touchdowns, which the Battlehawks utilized to cut the Brahmas’ lead to three with just over a minute remaining. Additionally, in the fourth quarter, teams can attempt a fourth-and-15 from their 25-yard line instead of an onside kick. The Battlehawks successfully converted, setting up a game-winning touchdown.

Despite the loss, the energy during the fourth quarter was electric. The crowd was loud and having a great time, and the rule changes made people stick around when they otherwise might have left to beat the traffic. Overall, the fans seemed to grow more passionate about the team over the course of the game.

With that said, offenses need to score more for the XFL to draw ratings and survive. This seems likely to happen as they practice together more, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Nonetheless, I think the longevity of the league can better be gauged by its management, and the live experience showed encouraging signs.

Additionally, the XFL is no longer owned by Vince McMahon, who, as WWE fans are likely aware, is a notorious micromanager and is of questionable character to put it mildly. McMahon’s mismanagement was a major part of the XFL’s initial failure, and many of the flaws he created are absent from the current league, which could bode well for its future.

The XFL is not perfect and needs to establish itself, but there is good reason to believe that this league has a future. It may be a modest future, but passionate markets like San Antonio and St. Louis could make a huge difference. San Antonio has wanted a professional football team for a long time, and it’s possible it now has one that will last.