A week after the NFL finished its season, the other Washington football team returns to the field. Local XFL team DC Defenders will play its first game of the season at Audi Field on Sunday, February 19. The home team will face off against the Seattle Sea Dragons at 8 PM.
The Defenders first made their debut in 2020, joining the resurrected alternative football league. (There was a single XFL season in 2001.) However, the league only lasted five weeks, declaring bankruptcy in April 2020. A group of new owners—including Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson—have brought back the XFL and the Defenders.
DC’s team is lead by two seasoned coaches. Head coach and former NFL player Reggie Barlow is coming from a coaching stint at Virginia State, and Gregg Williams, former defensive coordinator for Washington’s NFL team, is running defense.
For football fans who are already missing the NFL season, the XFL offers another chance to watch the game. And for DC football fans who have soured on the beleaguered Washington Commanders, the Defenders offer another local football team to support.
“The Commanders have a rich history in this city, and in a way, they’ve paved the way for us to come into the District and follow their lead,” writes Barlow in an email. He also notes a key difference between game day experiences: Defenders fans won’t have to leave the city to cheer for their home team.
The team’s rebirth could also mark the comeback of a short-lived tradition: the Beer Snake. Born on February 15, 2020 during a game against the New York Guardians, the crowd came together to stack beer cups into a serpent-like tower. By the end of the short season, the Beer Snake loomed at 1,237 cups.
“The Beer Snake was once of the most unique game day traditions in the country back in 2020 and there’s been quite a bit of buzz regarding it returning,” writes Barlow. “We can’t wait to see how the fans bring it back and make it even bigger and better this season.”