We just had a fantastic Super Bowl (and even better halftime show). If the season is over, we might as well go out on top, right?
Who are we kidding: the only thing better than football is more football. That’s where the XFL comes in. You may be asking, didn’t we already do that once? Didn’t it fail spectacularly? The answer is yes to both of those questions, but having learned from their failures, league is back and it has plenty new to offer that, enough that this time the XFL could emerge as a legitimate alternative to (and developmental league for) the NFL.
Back in 2001, Vince McManhon of the then WWF struck a partnership with NBC to create a league that amplified the football theatrics to directly compete with the NFL. Players didn’t have their last names on the back of their jerseys, they had monikers like “She Love Me” and “He Hate Me”. It was scripted but didn’t have the entertaining dramatics the wrestling federation that inspired it. Instead of being the antithesis of the “No Fun League,” it glorified the worst elements of the game. Match that with just plain bad football and it’s no surprise that the XFL didn’t last longer than a year (there is a tremendous ESPN 30 for 30 documentary detailing the spectacular rise and fall of the XFL).
That was the old XFL. The 2020 version is bringing back the best elements of the original league: advancements that could push the game forward. While they were mostly technological nearly 20 years ago, this version will feature some experimental rule changes. Some of the rules — like the double forward pass — may never cross over into the NFL, but the goal here is to encourage scoring.
In what could be the best feature of the XFL, there are no ties. There are three different scoring options for the points after touchdown and none of them involve a kicker. Overtime is structured similarly to the college game but in a five-round shootout. Having a winning team at the end of overtime, and giving the team who didn’t win the toss a chance to respond, is better for football. Watch the video below to see how rule changes are setting the XFL apart.
Historically, it has been difficult to establish a legitimate and financially viable alternative to the NFL. The latest league, the Alliance of American Football, provided a legitimate farm/ developmental league for players just outside the bubble of the NFL. Not coincidentally, the AAF was formed by Charlie Ebersol — the son of XFL co-founder and NBC Executive Dick Ebersol — after he watched the XFL 30 for 30. It seemed to provide a blueprint to an alternate league that didn’t compete directly with the NFL. Unfortunately, the money wasn’t there to make the league financially viable; in less than two months of play the AAF shut down after filing for bankruptcy.
Fortunately, McManhon and the XFL have the financial juggernaut of the WWE and the broadcast rights on ESPN, ABC and FOX behind them. Not to mention, there will be notable talent to improve the product on the field. This includes Cardale Jones, QB of the 2015 National Championship-winning Ohio State Buckeyes, former Steelers QB (and the first XFL signee) Landry Jones, and Andre Jones, who tore it up at Boston College and rushed for 721 yards as a rookie with the New York Giants in 2014 (if only we could have seen Chad Ochocinco as a kicker).
There are many new and exciting changes to XFL V2.0; here’s hoping that becomes a genuine supplement to the National Football League. Because, honestly, we’re still ready for some football.