Many football fans may recognize Landry Jones as a successful college quarterback at Oklahoma from 2008 to 2012, or as a backup to QB Ben Roethlisberger for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2013-2017. Soon, however, Jones may be known as one of the preeminent stars of an entirely different professional football league — the XFL.
Jones was the first player to join the newly formed XFL when he signed in August 2019 and committed to the XFL for its first season. Then in October, the XFL allocated Jones to the Dallas Renegades to unite him with his former Oklahoma head coach, Bob Stoops.
The XFL is owned by Vince McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment. McMahon is well known for his role as the majority owner, chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The 2020 version of the XFL is similar to the original XFL that operated for a single season in 2001.
The eight-team XFL played its first week of games last weekend — the first without the NFL to compete with. There was noticeable fanfare. The league’s big names, faster pace and novel rule changes have helped the XFL gain national respect and interest from fans and media alike.
"I'm excited about the way the rules are set up. It's going to be a quick, fast-moving game. And my favorite part of playing is the two-minute drill. In the #XFL2020, the entire game is gonna feel like a two-minute drill," –@LandryJones12 pic.twitter.com/UVPt3H6Y6D
— Dallas Renegades (@XFLRenegades) November 20, 2019
Unfortunately, the Jones-Stoops reunion in Dallas has been delayed due to a knee injury Jones suffered in early January. He did not play in Week 1 but is expected to make his debut in Week 2.
Jones, 30, along with his fellow players, have an opportunity in the XFL to change the trajectory of their football careers. Many players and coaches see it as a chance to build something new and exciting while extending their careers and possibly reconstructing a path to the NFL. Unable to maintain a spot in the NFL after his stint with the Steelers ended, Jones grew weary of life’s seemingly constant uncertainty. He had a pregnant wife and two daughters to think about, end every time he thought he might stick with a team, he was met with disappointment.
Jones thought his playing days might be over and had begun working a construction job, but he kept hearing about a new football league set to launch in the spring of 2020. He was wary, yet repeated conversations with people in the XFL — including Stoops — helped assuage his fears. He was sold.
“Really, I’m just excited about actually getting to play football again,” he told ESPN recently.
With the XFL, Jones will finally get to be a starting quarterback for an extended period of time, a situation he hasn’t faced since he was at Oklahoma. He’s not sure what will come of the league or where it will lead him, but he has learned to find true contentment regardless of life’s circumstances.
“I could never close the door on the NFL and being a backup,” Jones said in the ESPN article. “I am truly open to whatever.”
Jones can accept whatever the future holds in his football career because he has placed his identity in Jesus, rather than in the sport he loves. The bio on his Twitter account simply says, “In everything you do, work as if you are working for the Lord,” in reference to Colossians 3:23. In a video with I Am Second from 2012, Jones tells his testimony and recounts how God changed his life while at Oklahoma by freeing him from his empty pursuit of earthly things:
“[God] didn’t care where I was. He didn’t care what I had done,” Jones said in the video. “All He wanted was me. Instead of ‘I was Landry Jones the athlete,’ I was ‘Landry Jones, the son of God.'”
Now in the freedom that Christ provides, Jones embraces the next chapter in his life as an XFL quarterback. Whether or not he succeeds and returns to the top of his sport, he knows that God will be there with him.
Jones will make his first start for the Renegades when they take on the L.A. Wildcats on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on ABC.
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