Cre’von LeBlanc may not have made much of an impression during his short stint with the Detroit Lions, but the 28-year-old cornerback is now a hero of the XFL’s comeback season.
LeBlanc suited up for the Lions for part of the 2018 season, part of a five-year NFL career that included two years with the rival Chicago Bears and a total of 52 games. He joined the XFL’s Arlington Renegades in the league’s comeback season after folding in 2020, and in the XFL Championship Game on May 13 made a fourth-quarter interception that sealed the unexpected win for his team.
Cre’von LeBlanc Comes Up Big for Underdog Renegades
LeBlanc’s Renegades made the XFL playoffs despite finishing the season 4-6 and went on a run in the playoffs, meeting the 9-1 D.C. Defenders in Saturday’s title game.
The Renegades held a 35-20 lead late in the fourth quarter when the Defenders scored a touchdown to cut into the lead. After a missed two-point conversion, the Defenders tried to get the ball back by converting a 4th-and-15 — the XFL’s alternative to onside kicks. LeBlanc was able to corral in a tipped pass, making an interception that sealed the win for the Renegades.
LeBlanc first entered the NFL in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic, spending time with the New England Patriots before being released at final roster cuts and picked up by the Bears. He spent two seasons in Chicago before being picked up by the Lions prior to the start of the 2018 season and placed on the practice squad. LeBlanc appeared in three games for the Lions before being released again. He joined the Philadelphia Eagles, playing there until 2020.
Detroit fans may also remember LeBlanc from a more famous play that took place against the Lions. He made his first career interception as a member of the Bears against the Lions in a game in Week 14 of the 2016 NFL season, stepping in front of a pass from Matthew Stafford and returning it for a touchdown and giving the Bears a late lead — but the Lions would come back and win 20-17 thanks to a seven-yard touchdown run from Stafford.
Return to NFL Coming Next?
LeBlanc doesn’t appear to have given up on his aspirations to play in the NFL again. Back in December 2022, before he signed with the Renegades, LeBlanc took to Twitter to offer his services to any NFL team that needed some help in the defensive backfield.
“Any GMs or teams that are banged up and could use some help on defense I’m here, available, & 100% healthy!!!” LeBlanc tweeted.
As Natalie Miller of USA Today’s Draft Wire noted, the XFL has already been a successful springboard for several players trying to play their way back into the NFL. At the conclusion of the XFL regular season, a total of 19 players earned tryouts with NFL squads, with several more expected.
“With the success of former XFL players such as Philip Walker, who saw action in six games last year, it has further opened the door for NFL teams to take notice of their smaller league counterparts,” Miller wrote. “We could see a direct talent pipeline expand further with the success the league has experienced.”