ST. LOUIS — Hakeem Butler, a fan favorite who was on the 2023 roster of the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks is returning to the Gateway City after a stint in the NFL.
According to a tweet from the XFL Monday, Butler signed a letter of intent to return to the Battlehawks. It was a foregone conclusion as the Battlehawks still owned the player rights to Butler when he was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2023 XFL season.
Butler was an instant hit in St. Louis, with his stature and skill producing an astronomical resume of highlights every week. Furthermore, his ability to possess some kind of near-magical faculty to get open, as he would record the second-most receptions in the league amidst an already-stacked Battlehawks wide receiver corps.
In addition, Butler was more productive with the ball, leading the league in touchdowns, tying for first in plays over 20 yards, and second overall in total yardage. His performance would also earn him All-Offensive honors in the league, catching the eye of the Steelers in the process.
The Steelers invited Butler to their training camp and offered him a one-year contract in May.
Unfortunately for Butler, he was released by the Steelers in late August as part of a settlement that essentially removed him from the injury reserve list. The release came with a $52,778 injury settlement, according to Steelers Depot.
Butler’s return to the XFL is a huge asset not only to the Battlehawks but also to the league as a whole, as the XFL is merging with the USFL to form the revived United Football League.
The Battlehawks are one of eight teams kicking off in the merged league, joining the Arlington Renegades, DC Defenders, and San Antonio Brahmas. While there are teams from both the XFL and USFL, it appears that the Houston team will be the Gamblers and not the Roughnecks. Joining them from the USFL are the Michigan Panthers, Birmingham Stallions, the Houston Gamblers, and Memphis Showboats. The other eight teams not joining the new league are not terminated, but rather operations are suspended until the league expands, which could begin as early as 2025.
Meanwhile, the Battlehawks have been hot and heavy with selling season tickets, which include the upper deck at The Dome at America’s Center.
The 2024 season kicks off on March 30.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.