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D.C. Defenders return as XFL unveils team names and logos

The XFL returns in February. (Courtesy of the XFL)

The XFL announced the home cities of its eight teams in July. Now each of those teams officially has an identity.

On Monday, the league unveiled the branding associated with its teams, including the return of the D.C. Defenders, who played at Audi Field in 2020 and will continue to call the venue home when the league kicks off again in February.

“We’re excited that the Defenders logo was kept,” D.C. Coach Reggie Barlow said in a phone interview. “Obviously, ownership, our great people that work in the XFL, knew that the fans wanted that. … We were really pulling for that. Everybody embraced the name and the shield from 2020.”

Along with the Defenders, the league will feature the Arlington Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Orlando Guardians, San Antonio Brahmas, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis BattleHawks and Vegas Vipers.

“Each team’s identity represents the fabric of their local community while also embodying the XFL’s vision and ethos: they are authentic, dynamic, modern, and unapologetically bold,” XFL chairwoman and co-owner Dany Garcia said in a statement.

“Every one of these logos has a unique energy, intensity, and electricity that each team and their fans will bring on game day. Now is the time for our fans to get behind a team — THEIR team — and wear these logos and represent their city with pride,” XFL co-owner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson added.

Wrestling magnate Vince McMahon owned the original XFL, which kicked off in 2001 but folded after one season. McMahon then brought the league back for the spring of 2020, but the league was shut down after five games that March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The next month, the league filed for bankruptcy and sought a sale. That August, former WWE star Johnson bought the league for $15 million along with his business partner and ex-wife, Dany Garcia, and investment firm RedBird Capital Partners.

A player draft is slated to take place in November. Dates to unveil the uniforms of the eight teams have yet to be announced.

The league signed a three-year deal with Arlington, Tex., to operate a “hybrid hub” model in which all eight teams will practice there during the week and travel to play games in their home markets. The season kicks off Saturday, Feb. 18 with 40 regular season games, two semifinals and a championship game.

Here are the eight XFL team logos:

D.C. Defenders

The Defenders return after averaging more than 16,000 fans in 20,000-seat Audi Field during XFL 2.0. The team is using an altered version of the secondary logo that was officially unveiled on the eve of the 2020 season opener, which features “D.C. red” and “Defender gray.” The new wordmark is simpler than the previous version. Perhaps most importantly, outside of the logo, the team is using periods in D.C. this time.

Arlington Renegades

After the team played as the Dallas Renegades in 2020, the nickname returns but will directly represent the league’s hub city.

Houston Roughnecks

The only undefeated team in XFL 2.0 returns with the same name but a different spin on the previous logo, which was opposed by the NFL and the Tennessee Titans for too closely resembling the Houston Oilers’ oil derrick insignia.

Orlando Guardians

The Guardians name makes the move south after residing in New York in 2020, replacing the red from the Gotham iteration to the more Floridian neon green that the Tampa Bay Vipers wore in 2020. The league returns to Orlando, which was home to the Rage in the XFL’s 2001 season.

San Antonio Brahmas

Perhaps a not-so-subtle nod to Johnson’s signature “Brahma Bull” brand, which adorned his right arm for about two decades and transformed into the Under Armour “Project Rock Collection,” San Antonio’s first XFL team features a black-and-gold bull rendering with a B on its forehead.

Seattle Sea Dragons

Seattle gets a slight change from the 2020 squad, transitioning from Dragons to Sea Dragons, blending in with the Emerald City’s maritime themes of the Seahawks, Mariners and Kraken. The green, blue and orange color scheme returns with the new dragon logo forming an “S.”

St. Louis BattleHawks

The league’s most popular team in terms of average attendance keeps its 2020 identity in hopes the familiarity will continue to feed fan interest. The new logo is slightly tweaked from the 2020 version and is updated with a militarized wordmark.

Vegas Vipers

The Vipers return with XFL 3.0 but not in Tampa. This time, the moniker shifts about 2,000 miles west as the league heads back to Las Vegas, which hosted the Outlaws in 2001.

D.C.’s staff is set

In September, the league announced full coaching staffs for its eight teams after initially naming head coaches and coordinators. D.C.’s staff already included Barlow, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, offensive coordinator/running backs coach Fred Kaiss, director of player personnel Von Hutchins and director of team operations Stacie Johnson. Newly announced additions to the staff are highlighted by former Washington NFL cornerback Vernon Dean as defensive backs coach and former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jamie Sharper as special teams/linebackers coach. Alvance Robinson (wide receivers), Cody Crills (tight ends), Shannon Harris (quarterbacks), Russ Ehrenfeld (offensive line), Jeremy Watkins (defensive line), Deion Harris (quality control), Chris Lacsamana (athletic trainer), VanDyke Jones (equipment manager) and Caleb Studivant (video manager) round out the staff.