The Seattle Dragons were unveiled to the public for the first time Saturday morning with an open practice at Memorial Stadium, and several hundred showed up to see the new XFL team that will begin playing in February.
“Your support means a lot and I wouldn’t doubt that Seattle is the kind of city that would watch us only playing against each other,” Dragons coach Jim Zorn told the fans.
It was against each other and without pads as the team continues offseason training activities that began Dec. 5 and will conclude with a four-day minicamp next week.
Also on hand was commissioner Oliver Luck, who said the rule book should be unveiled later in the month. He talked about some of the changes from the rules in the NFL, such as a 25-second play clock instead of 40 seconds.
“There is less idle time,” Luck said. “We want to see players play and not stand around in the huddle. My mandate from (XFL owner) Vince McMahon was to create a fast-paced, up-tempo kind of a game. … The innovations are all around playing fast and playing good, crisp football and getting it all done in three hours.”
Luck said there are about a dozen innovations, including giving teams a chance to go for three points after a touchdown by running a play from the 10-yard line. Two-point tries would come from the 5-yard line. Overtimes would be decided by a two-point shootout.
The Dragons will take a break after next week’s minicamp, then will head to Houston with the rest of the eight-team league in January for training camp. The 71-man roster will be pared to 52 for the team’s opening game Feb. 8 at the D.C. Guardians.
It seems clear that the battle to be the Dragons’ starting quarterback will continue into January. Brandon Silvers and former Seahawk B.J. Daniels took part in Saturday’s practice. Chase Litton, who has missed the team’s practices because of a family health issue, will also be in the mix in January.
“Those two guys have taken all the reps and they’ve been great and they’re learning our offense and are learning our vocabulary,” Zorn said of Silvers and Daniels, who have yet to throw an interception in practice.
Dragons president Ryan Gustafson said the fan turnout at practice was indicative of the support the team is getting. He said ticket sales are going well, but was not allowed to give specific numbers as the league wants to announce tickets sales for all teams at a later date.
“We are really excited about the fans’ support so far,” Gustafson said. “It’s obvious that Seattle is rallying behind this team and it’s growing day by day.”
Said Luck: “We expect Seattle to be one of our most successful markets.”