You are the owner of this article.
BenFred: Go Hawks! In St. Louis? Names of XFL players will matter more than St. Louis team's name

BenFred: Go Hawks! In St. Louis? Names of XFL players will matter more than St. Louis team's name

  • 0
Support local journalism for 99¢

Nothing says St. Louis like sports fans chanting, “Go Hawks!”

(That sentence should be printed in sarcasm font.)

I’m afraid the XFL underestimated this area’s detest for a certain Chicago hockey team when it decided to name the St. Louis XFL team the BattleHawks.

At least it’s better than BattleCubs?

I suppose the name could be a cap tip to our town's former NBA team. You know, the one that is now thriving in Atlanta. Sigh.

Here's how former Post-Dispatch sports writer Dan O'Neill once summed up the memory of the St. Louis Hawks: 

The wound that hurts the most is one that never healed. From 1955-56 to 1967-68, St. Louis was a vibrant piece of the emerging NBA. The Hawks played in the NBA Finals four times from '57 to '61, winning the title in 1958. Their star, Bob Pettit, is among the handful of greatest sports figures in the city's history. And eight other NBA Hall of Famers played for the St. Louis Hawks. But after the 1967-68 season - the best record (56-26) in franchise history, owner Ben Kerner sold the team and it moved to Atlanta. Forty-five years later, it seems likely there will be a Starbucks on the moon before there is another NBA team in St. Louis.

I’m trying to be upbeat about the XFL. Honest.

There are football fans here. The NFL's slander doesn't change that. Here's a league that wants to be here, that wants to offer its own version of the game that got ripped away. We should be open-minded, right? 

I thought the XFL missed a chance to increase interest in St. Louis when it passed on seriously considering Rams great Isaac Bruce for the head coaching job. But that should not be held against coach Jonathan Hayes. He’s earned the opportunity. His name won't sell tickets, but a winning team will eventually. That's his challenge.

I liked the hire of president Kurt Hunzeker, a St. Louis native who came up on the baseball side and learned how to successfully market Minor League Baseball. I love Hunzeker’s plan of engaging the community, of building interest through events across the area, including stops at Friday night high school games. Hunzeker is a dynamic hand that guides the team, but he’s not the face of it.

See the trend?

The XFL in St. Louis needs a splash. It needs some sizzle.

The questionable team name won’t do it. The Cardinals are this city’s bird. And while a nod to the area’s aviation history can be appreciated, it will be drowned out by those who don’t like the similarity to the Chicago Blackhawks. It's hard to blame that crowd.

The logo, however, is great. Flip it over, and the sword and wings spell STL. That’s sharp. Question: Are you going to go to a game because of a logo?

No, you’re going to go to a game — or watch it on TV — to see names that move the needle. And if the team is good, you are going to want to see more. That’s how momentum builds.

The Los Angeles Wildcats will have former USC and UCLA coordinator Norm Chow calling the shots for their offense. The Dallas Renegades have Bob Stoops as head coach. One of the league’s eight teams is going to land former Oklahoma Sooners and NFL quarterback Landry Jones, who became the first notable QB to sign on with the league that wants to challenge the NFL.

These names move the needle.

The St. Louis arm of the XFL has not yet moved the needle.

St. Louis offers the XFL the only team in its league that does not have to compete with the NFL for attention.

There are football fans here.

If they are fired up about the BattleHawks at this moment, it's hard to tell.

Twitter hot takes on the BattleHawks announcement

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Blues News

Breaking News

Cardinals News

Daily 6

National Breaking News