By Matthew Feimer
In two days the XFL will kick off for the first time… again. In three days the silver and black will take the field at MetLife stadium known as the New York Guardians. Back in 1992 another New York team named the NY/NJ Knights wore the silver and black in the World League of American Football (WLAF). Back then it was Giants Stadium they played in and TV just called it the Meadowlands. It was backed by the NFL and their way of introducing football to Europe, Canada, and the United States to spring football.
The Knights were coached by Mouse Davis who ran the exciting Run n Shoot offense. Quarterbacks Jeff Graham, Reggie Slack and current Eagles coach Doug Pederson took the helm. My favorite player, running back Eric Wilkerson was the Knights version of Dave Meggett of the Giants. The Knights made things exciting and made you pull your hair out. They started off 0-3 in 1991 but finished 5-5 to win the Northeast division. They played the London Monarchs in the semifinals. Saw them jump to a 20-0 lead, only to see Stan Gelbaugh and the Monarchs rally and beat us 42-26.
In 1992 the Knights started out 0-4 and then won the next six games to finish 6-4 and come in second to miss the playoffs on a tie breaker. The Knights always kept you on the edge of your seat whether it was for good or bad. The defense was no different than the offense. You never knew what you were going to get. Despite that, I loved my Knights and WLAF. It was cool to see the Knights play European teams and Montreal. Then were US rivals like Orlando and San Antonio. It was backed by the NFL, so players were allocated which made you think it was going to last.
The excitement I had for this league did not resonate with the rest of the world however. The WLAF was shut down and brought back years later as NFL Europe. It had only six teams as opposed to the 12 the WLAF had. I tried to get into it but the TV contract was not the same, and with no teams in the US or in New York, it looked like a hollow football league to me. The memories are still there though. My favorite memory was listening to Monarchs and Knights on a school night on WABC Radio with Bob Papa calling the play by play, trying not let my parents know I was listening to the game.
In 2020 that is no longer a worry. I am an adult now and the XFL this time around has a better TV contract with Fox and Disney owned properties ABC and ESPN. I just hope the Guardians can give New York what the Knights did not, quality Spring football and a championship brought back to met life stadium. The Knights will always have a place in my football heart. As of Sunday, it’s LET’s GO GUARDIANS!