• Brian L. Barefield

Former Roughnecks QB P.J. Walker Appreciates Time Spent In The XFL

One thing I can tell you about being from Texas. In particular living in the city of Houston. We show “Southern Hospitality” to all outsiders, but we are not open to allowing individuals to claim “Tha H” without putting in the work throughout the city.

Well every now and then we will make exceptions to the rule and that exception goes to former XFL Houston Roughnecks P.J. Walker. He spoke with the Players Tribune about his time in the XFL.

“The love was nice, but what I liked best was that I was playing again,” said Walker. Not training. Not practicing. Not grinding. Just … playing. And what that meant was that I got to continue to grow, continue to get better. That’s what the XFL was doing — giving me, and everyone like me, a chance to play and grow and get better each week.

The XFL was a great opportunity for a lot of players because it was physical, it was fast, and it was fun. The atmosphere of the fans each week was amazing. We had 18,000 in the stands in Houston for the home opener, which was unexpected in my opinion. We were just blown away.”

Walker signed a contract with the Carolina Panthers this past off-season after the XFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time the Roughnecks were the only undefeated team in the league at 5-0. The former Temple University starting quarterback was leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns. According to P.J., many players and executives from the NFL was taking notice of what he was doing on the University of Houston (TDECU Stadium) campus where Houston played all their home games.

“I kept hearing from my friends in the NFL about how great we were doing,” Walker said. Jacoby Brissett and I speak often, and he would text me every week about how happy he was for me. I spoke with Andrew [Luck] some weeks before our games, and every now and then he’d send me a text wishing me good luck.”

One thing Walker wants the naysayers to know is that the play of the XFL was real. Every teammate and opponent play the game with the same fervor the players in the NFL do every Sunday.

“We had a lot of guys who just played hard, and who were out there to play for each other,” Walker said. “It was a lot of hungry guys, you know? It was a lot of guys who just really wanted that opportunity to get back into the NFL. Guys there were on a mission. And that was our bond. We were all on a mission.”

Although most NFL fandom throughout Texas is split between the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, there will be some Houstonians that will keep an eye on the Carolina Panthers to see if Walker is playing. I will be one.

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