Thanksgiving is a time of reflection. It is also a time for football. With this in mind, it should be noted that the XFL is starting up (again) in February 2020. The basic rundown is as such:
- A spring league comprised of eight inaugural teams
- Two day, two team playoff to decide championship contenders
- Season start in February just after the NFL Superbowl and championship game to be played the day after the NFL Draft in April
- The new league has an initial investment from Vince McMahon (of WWE fame) of around $500 million and, in this second turn, the games will be broadcast across ABC and FOX networks
The XFL league draft has come and gone without much fanfare, though it has been rumored that this is by design. In an effort to create an even playing field among the eight competing teams the XFL has assigned the starting quarterbacks. Most notably among them; former Ohio State standout and former NFL draft pick Cardale Jones.
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The XFL enters the sports world for a second time shortly after the folding of another league (the now defunct and very short lived AAFL), but was announced before the start of the 2019 NFL season. Water cooler conversation of the league began from the (arguably) NFL’s long-standing image problem– perceived among the general public as being “not so good”, which came back into the forefront at around this same time.
This time around, the XFL is apparently hoping to cash in on true fans of the sport and is shedding it’s previously “gimmicky” perception. Though, that isn’t intended to deny the contributions made by the league; it has since (from it’s original incarnation) transformed the way football is watched and played. The introduction of overhead cameras to see inside the huddle on the field, access to players inside the locker room at halftime, and overall player branding were far ahead of the curve in terms of sheer dollar value and were previously unheard of.
Also, in speaking of dollar value, the majority of XFL players will be signing contracts that will keep them within the league for a specified amount of time (in order to prevent signing with the NFL mid season) and will be making far less than the lowest paid NFL player. With that in mind, players will be paid more for on the field milestones. XFL head Jeffrey Pollack has called all of this ‘Fan-First Football’.
Take everything into account, this should be considered the first real attempt by the XFL to insert itself into the realm of sports; not a replacement of the NFL, it’s a springtime league, but a supplement that could hold fans over after the Superbowl. For those that have soured on the sport, for reasons legitimate or otherwise, it could be a welcome change. We’ll all find out in February.
One thing is for certain: Vince McMahon has overcome every obstacle in this endeavor and has beaten the odds as it pertains to his various other ventures. He’s a savvy businessman who’s unlikely to fail at the same thing twice.