Don’t ask former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride if his first win as the head coach of the XFL’s New York Guardians is tainted.
The two-time Super Bowl winner says a win is a win.
“There’s no difference at all,” Gilbride recently told SNY about the 23-3 opening day victory over the Tampa Bay Vipers last Sunday. “That’s what I told them: Wins at the professional level are hard and you need to savor them and appreciate them and recognize how special they are. That feeling … that’s why I came back, to be part of that where you’re totally invested in something and you’re kind of on a high wire with no nets underneath, and you roll the dice and see what happens. We were able to come out with a ‘W’ so we were delighted.”
The new XFL promises to be unlike the first version wrestling mogul Vince McMahon tried to sneak past American football fans. It has less bizarre elements and more reliable and recognizable ones that NFL fans can relate to. With a few twists, that is.
The first time around, the XFL promoted itself as a more violent version of football but fizzled because, well, the quality wasn’t up to snuff.
Gilbride would not have come back from his six-year retirement from the game under the former XFL format, which lasted just one season back in 2001.
“I think the quality of football, as you witnessed, is really a high level of football. There’s a lot of good players, a lot of good coaches. You’re seeing football as you’d expect to see it at the professional level,” Gilbride said.
“I think that any time you start out new, from the ground basement working your way up, there’s some things as you put it together that you don’t have to deal with at a level where it’s been established for 100 years. That aspect, in terms of finding facilities, where you’re going to work out, where you’re going to house the players, where you’re going to have your summer training (which for us is winter training) are all things you never had to worry about in the NFL.
“But in terms of the effort by the players, the professionalism, I’ve been very, very impressed with the way they go about their business.”
That’s because there’s legitimate names attached to the project, starting with commissioner Oliver Luck and former NFL head coaches in Gilbride, June Jones, Mark Trestman and Jim Zorn as well as other notables such as Bob Stoops and Pep Hamilton.