Undefeated Houston Roughnecks Lose to COVID-19

Undefeated Houston Roughnecks Lose to COVID-19

H-Town was robbed of another championship when the COVID-19 pandemic brought the Houston Roughneck’s inaugural season to a premature end on March 20. The 5-0 team was a member of the newest alternative professional football league – the XFL, and it featured Bert Emanuel ’93 as its Director of Business Operations.

Bert Emanuel

Before social distancing set in, the XFL was well positioned to become a top professional league that could conceivably work alongside the NFL to develop players, coaches, and front office personnel. The Roughnecks in particular experienced tremendous success. During its five weeks of competition, it was the only undefeated team and had beaten its rival, the Dallas Renegades, in the Texas Throwdown. Beyond just the stats, it had also developed an enthusiastic fan base in one of America’s biggest football cities.

“I don’t think anyone expected the level of love, appreciation, and support that we felt from the city of Houston in five short weeks,” said Emanuel. “It was phenomenal. We only had three home games, and the energy, the excitement, the connection to the brand was incredible. People just loved the Roughnecks.”

For a team that captured Houston’s heart so quickly, it was devastating when COVID-19 regulations forced the remainder of the 2020 season to be cancelled. The news became even worse when the XFL filed for bankruptcy on April 13, dashing all hopes of another chance to watch the Roughnecks.

“Honestly, I don’t think anyone was prepared for what we deal with now,” said Emanuel. “We definitely were not prepared as a league to handle testing symptomatic athletes, front office protocols, and travel protocols. It definitely caught us, as well as all the other professional leagues, off guard.”

It’s disappointing that the Houston Roughnecks were unable to finish their impressive first season. However, the team brought excitement, enthusiasm, and energy to spring football. With their 5-0 record and unbeatable fans, the Roughnecks are the undisputable champions of the XFL.

Audrey Paetzel, a junior from Dallas, Texas, is double-majoring in Sport Management and Philosophy.