The XFL is finishing up its second week of games, and the league’s wacky but practical rules aren’t the only reason to keep watching.
The league might have its first superstar quarterback on its hands with the Houston Roughnecks’ P.J. Walker, who has delivered some of its most stunning plays.
Walker led the Roughnecks to their second straight win on Sunday, topping the St. Louis Battlehawks 28-24. During the game, Walker delivered three touchdowns and plays like this:
— XFL (@xfl2020) February 17, 2020
— XFL (@xfl2020) February 16, 2020
Wait, let’s look at that throw a little closer.
PJ Walker Texas Ranger 🤠
The man's a GUNSLINGERpic.twitter.com/iQ79fmnPKR
— Houston Roughnecks (@XFLRoughnecks) February 16, 2020
That’s after a season-opening performance against the Los Angeles Wildcats in which Walker threw four touchdowns, including this across-the-body absurdity.
— larry horn (@LarryHorn120174) February 9, 2020
So, who is this agile gunslinger?
Like with most XFL players, Walker is in the league after getting dropped by an NFL team. Walker joined the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2017 following a career at Temple that left him as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns.
Walker was released by the Colts shortly before last season, and eventually joined the Roughnecks through the recommendation of a former teammate: Andrew Luck. As fortune would have it, Luck’s recommendation carried quite some weight considering his father Oliver is the commissioner of the XFL.
Funnily enough, an NFL team came knocking for Walker after he signed with the Roughnecks. According to the elder Luck, the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted Walker for one reason and one reason only: mimicking Lamar Jackson as the Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks continued his MVP run.
Luck’s recounting of the negotiations, from the Tampa Bay Times:
It even happened with Phillip Walker, who’s now with the Houston Roughnecks. The same team, the Steelers, called and said, “We’d like to have Phillip for a week because we’re playing the Ravens and Phillip’s a little bit like Lamar Jackson. We’ll sign him to a one-week contract so we can get accustomed to that kind of quarterback.” We said, “Thanks for the compliment, but we’re not going to let him go.”
Things seemed to have worked out for Walker and the Roughnecks, though it’s obviously still early. The Steelers wanted Walker to imitate Jackson for just one week, but the XFL will hope that Jackson imitation stretches for the entire season as it continues attempting to break through to football fans.
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