EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Tampa Bay Vipers defensive tackle Ricky Walker made history in the very first weekend of the rebooted XFL.
He became the first player to be ejected from a game.
In the second quarter of Sunday’s contest between the Vipers and the New York Guardians at MetLife Stadium, Walker was engaged with Guardians center Ian Silberman after a play with 2:38 seconds left in the half. Walker then clearly swung with his right hand and struck Silberman’s helmet. There had been a neutral-zone infraction penalty on the Vipers, but that was declined in favor of the personal foul against Walker.
The officiating staff then ejected him from the game.
During the FOX broadcast, referee Jeff Heaser wore a microphone and captured the conversation as the officiating staff contemplated whether to eject Walker.
“Two fouls on the play,” Heaser said while he listened to the other members of the crew. After several seconds went by in which the officiating crew discussed the infractions, Heaser told the rest of the officials: “Ninety-seven is gone. Ninety-seven is going to go,” referring to Walker’s No. 97 jersey.
This marked the first game for both the Guardians and the Vipers in the rebooted professional football league. There were two games on Saturday in the inaugural weekend.