Quarterback was the star of the XFL

Roughnecks fan favorite P.J. Walker to join Carolina Panthers

Getty Images

The XFL season ended too soon because of the Covid-19 scare, but Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker made enough of an impression to get another shot at the NFL.

Walker, who led Houston to a 5-0 record and was the clear front-runner for MVP, will rejoin his old college coach, Matt Ruhle, with the Carolina Panthers.

Instant XFL star

Walker was the clear QB star of the XFL, throwing for 1,338 yards and 15 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions. His escapability in the pocket and ability to contribute to the running game thanks to his mobility made him a terrific fit for June Jones' offense. Walker connected with WR Cam Phillips for nine of his 15 touchdowns. He completed 64.7 percent of his passes and added in 99 rushing yards on 24 carries, second on the team.

Walker quickly became a Roughnecks fan favorite and the face of the first-year league.

With the Panthers

Walker, whose prior NFL experience was a stint on the practice squad in Indianapolis, will join a crowded quarterback room in Carolina. The Panthers added for Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater in free agency, and have yet to decide what to do with Cam Newton. Kyle Allen, who started 12 games last year, returns on a one-year deal, and Will Grier was drafted in the third round last year. UPDATE: Allen was traded to the Redskins after this was initially published.

Regardless, Walker will take his skills to the NFL.

Getty Images

As our lockdown continues, we are still doing our best to provide content to hopefully take your mind off of things. SportsMap will provide daily content for as long as possible.

Fortunately the Texans have given us plenty of ammunition.

Reminder: If you would like a copy of some of my original short stories, please email me at faour975@gmail.com. They are free, but asking those of you can afford it for a $10 minimum donation for our employee assistance fund. If you can't donate right now, I am happy to send it to you for free. It includes a new story about Jesse Christian from Jesus Just Left Chicago.

Now, back to the Texans. This is not a Bill O'Brien hit piece. My opinion of him is well known. Instead I wanted to reach out to the hardcore fan base and share their opinions.

The DeAndre Hopkins trade has angered fans more than anything I have seen in a long time. Maybe it is the added stress of the world falling apart, but fans rightly lost their minds. However, the daunting issue that followed is the way quarterback Deshaun Watson reacted. His cryptic tweets made it clear he was not happy with the deal.

It also has led to speculation that Watson himself could be traded.

Some sites have even gone so far as to speculate as to what a trade would like like. While such a move seems improbable, after O'Brien's deal to ship out Hopkins, anything seems possible. And while the Hopkins trade was a body blow, dealing Watson could be the knockout punch for a lot of fans.

However, there is a contingent that will stick with the team no matter what. I reached out to several of them to get their opinion of a potential Watson trade. The most common responses:

"It would suck, but this is my team ride or die."

"If they think it's the best thing for the franchise."

And even, "I trust Bill O'Brien."

I am not here to judge or argue. I have a lot of respect for hardcore Texans fans who support their team no matter what. I merely wanted to gauge what their response would be should the unthinkable happen.

Several were more than happy to share their opinions publicly, but I chose to keep everyone anonymous to prevent them from getting the inevitable Twitter "how the hell can you think that" responses. You can always attack me with that. I've made no bones about my thoughts on the Texans GM/coach. I wanted to give the team's most dedicated supporters a voice.

I was surprised there were a few who are not sold on Watson.

"If he decides to trade Watson, it is because he doesn't think he can win with him. Maybe people will realize Watson is just not that good. O'Brien had similar success with a lot of other quarterbacks. He even made the playoffs with Brock Osweiler."

The one response that really resonated - and maybe in these times we can all relate - was that hardcore fandom for many of them is about more than the team.

"My husband and I have had season tickets for years. We have sat with the same people, became friends, tailgated and traveled to road games together. For us it is about camaraderie, friendship, and the Texans have given us that. We would not give that up for anything. We just have to hope they do the right thing, but we will be there no matter what."

To me, that is the best explanation. There are relationships we all have around different things, and they are important. I've developed similar friendships through poker, horse racing, basketball and several other things over the years. Why not around a sports team?

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail, and the team will move on with Watson as its quarterback. If not, there is a contingent out there that will stick with the team no matter what. Those fans deserve a voice so that's what I have given them here in hopes that maybe those of us who don't get it at least understand where they are coming from.

If we ever get back to normal, these fans will still be at games, tailgating, cheering and having a good time. We should not fault that, just as they should accept that some fans will be up in arms.

It will be interesting to see how things play out over the next few months. Hell, we might not even have NFL football this year. O'Brien has undoubtedly lost some of the fan base, but it is hard to see how much. But we know there are always fans who stick with it no matter what.

Hopefully this gives some insight into why.



SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome