Malachi Jones is getting another opportunity to play football outdoors.
The Albany Empire star wide receiver was selected on the 10th round of Tuesday’s XFL Draft by the Seattle Dragons. The eight-team league begins play in February.
Jones will be playing for head coach Jim Zorn, who is best known for quarterbacking the Seattle Seahawks from 1976, their first year in the NFL, to 1984. Zorn was head coach of the Washington Redskins in 2008 and 2009.
“I’m on Cloud 9,” said Jones, who played collegiately at Appalachian State. “It’s a great feeling. I’m very pleased that Jim Zorn and his staff took a chance on me. It’s a great feeling to hear your name called. I didn’t have my name called at the NFL draft, so it’s a surreal feeling to hear my named called at the XFL Draft.”
Jones has been with the Empire for two seasons. He competed for a roster spot with the Chicago Bears last year. Earlier this year, he played for the Atlanta Legends of the Alliance of American Football League. Jones had a three-year deal with the AAF, but re-signed with the Empire after the AAF shut down before the regular season ended.
He isn’t worried about the XFL folding in mid-season because of Vince McMahon, the WWE chairman and founder of the league. Plus, The XFL commissioner is former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, the father of former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
“From what I heard, because I didn’t dive too much into it, there was a financial aspect to why things folded and ended the way they did,” Jones said. “So, obviously, from a financial standpoint, the XFL can do better. I already heard that they’re doing better. They put the right people in place to make decisions and things of that nature. I also think they did a great job in taking their time and marketing it. They also have a guy like Vince McMahon backing the league, as well. From a financial standpoint, the XFL is doing a good job making sure that everything is secure before starting.”
Jones wants to use the XFL as a way to attract attention from NFL teams.
“Everybody’s goal at this point is to get back to the NFL,” Jones said. “That’s the premier league for football. Everybody knows it. At the end of the day, I do take great pride in where I am, and I take great pride in where I played.”
Jones helped lead the Empire the ArenaBowl 32 title over the Philadelphia Soul back in August. He was named the AFL’s Offensive Player of the Year and the Receiver of the Year this past season. Jones led the league with 96 catches for 1,440 yards and was second in receiving touchdowns with 25. He was named First Team All-Arena.
In 2018, Jones was the AFL’s Rookie of the Year, Wide Receiver of the Year and First Team All-Arena. Jones led the AFL in total touchdowns (34) and receiving yards (1,156) while finishing second in receiving touchdowns (29) and fourth in receptions (77).
This is McMahon’s second try at the XFL. The previous incarnation lasted just one year, in 2001.
Besides Seattle, the other teams in the new XFL are the Dallas Renegades, DC Defenders, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks and Tampa Bay Vipers.
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