By Andrew Hammond
The News Tribune
“What in the hell am I gonna do now?”
Those were the first words that came to Keith Price when he, along with 415 others, abruptly found out they were no longer going to be playing for the Alliance of American Football since the league shut down midseason on April 17 due to financial issues.
The experience, though, wasn’t enough to sour him on football forever. So on Saturday, along with about 100 others still chasing their dreams, Price participated in one of XFL’s eight summer showcases at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium.
The former University of Washington quarterback was one of many notable names in attendance, including former Seahawks quarterback Jake Heaps, former Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas and former Washington State linebacker Peyton Pelluer.
Had things gone differently with the AAF, Price probably would not be looking to try out for the XFL.
He had played three games for the Birmingham Iron and was schedule to start the next game just days before games were canceled. Price, who had completed 23 of 34 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown, was in the middle of game preparations when he got the news that the AAF was done.
“Man, it was different. It’s unfortunate the way it ended,” Price said. “I was in the middle of watching film and they tell us it’s over. I said what? They told us it’s over and when I went in the locker room they go got black plastic bags for players to put their stuff in.”
This isn’t new territory for Price. Since leaving Washington in 2014 he’s had stints in the NFL and CFL. He signed an undrafted free-agent contract with the Seahawks right after college but then moved north, spending time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and BC Lions before landing with the San Diego Fleet of the AAF, making their practice squad before getting a chance on Birmingham’s active roster.
“I’ve bounced from every league,” Price said. “My mom was joking that I’ve played in every ‘FL’ there is. Just keeping the dream alive; as long as the phone keeps on ringing then I’ll keep playing.”
Price said he’s had contact with teams in the CFL and NFL recently. He said it’s his love of football that keeps him motivated and knows that he doesn’t have long to chase this dream, even in the XFL, which is scheduled to begin playing next spring.
“I don’t know when will be the next time that I’ll be able to do this,” Price said. “It’s a hunger that I have and I’m honored to be here. … I think it’s an amazing opportunity and a lot of these guys are on the same journey. Shoot, I remember going almost a year without hearing nothing — no feedback, no nothing. … By the grace of God I stuck with it and God is rewarding me.”
Per XFL rules, teams are not restricted to picking players outside their collective regions so Price — if drafted — could wind up anywhere. That’s different from how the AAF created their rosters, something XFL commissioner Oliver Luck feels is fair to players and coaches.
“I think the fewer restrictions the better,” Luck said. “If Jim Zorn wants a player that comes out of Miami then he should be able to draft that player without any geographical limitations. We want as much competitive equity as possible.”
Players who attend the XFL summer showcases or are currently on an NFL roster are eligible for XFL contracts. Select players who participate in the eight league-wide summer showcases and those who are cut from NFL rosters prior to the start of the season are signed to XFL contracts and will be placed into a draft pool and be eligible to be picked in the XFL draft that takes place in October. XFL training camps will begin in December.
Given his connection to Seattle landing with the city’s XFL team and playing for Zorn, the former Seahawks’ quarterback, would be ideal. But Price has experienced enough to know that any chance is a good chance to play.
“Seattle’s a great place but this is a business,” Price said. “I was in the middle of camp in the last league and I ended up in Birmingham, Alabama. I’d never been there before so while I’m willing to play here I’m willing to play anywhere and everywhere, honestly.”
Seattle XFL update
With coaches and league personnel and a TV deal in place, the XFL is preparing for to unveil team names and colors some time in July, Luck said.
As for the draft, while Luck did not reveal if it will be broadcast or not. There will be a lottery held for the initial draft order and the draft will be held in a central location, most likely at league headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Teams will have their individual draft headquarters in their respective cities.