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St. Louis' XFL team announces coach

Former NFL player and coach Jonathan Hayes, speaks to media on Thursday, April 18, 2019, shortly after being announced as the head coach of St. Louis' XFL league team at The Dome at America's Center in downtown St. Louis. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

QUESTION: What's the biggest challenge the XFL faces in this market? Will it be competing with the Blues and Cardinals for media attention? Trying to succeed as a football team in a city that has a reputation for not caring about football?

BENFRED: Yes to the first part. Objection to the second.

St. Louis cares about football, and only the Rams and those they convinced believe otherwise.

But there is a bad taste about pro football in this area, due in part to how the Rams left, and I don't think it's really fair to compare the XFL interest that does or does not arrive to interest in football at large.

The XFL is a start-up. Some will be interested in it, but many will not, no matter how the team plays. The XFL's challenge is to make folks care.


Follow-up: Why is the XFL left out of the sports fraternity here? Do the Cards and Blues not want to promote a potential football rival in their market?

BENFRED: I don't know that it's intentional or designed. The MLS group has ties through Enterprise to the Blues, and the Blues and Cardinals are close. The XFL is more of an outside entity, a branch of a national league that decided to plant its flag here. For example, we've seen the Cardinals and Blues lend support to the MLS effort in various ways. We have not seen any of the three do anything promoting XFL.

Photo: Former NFL player and coach Jonathan Hayes speaks to media on April 18 after being named head coach of St. Louis' XFL team. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com