By Henry Barsch ‘20
It’s back and better than ever. The XFL seems like it is here to stay (for longer than one season at least).
The league is back from the dead, with founder Vince McMahon at the helm of it all. McMahon, who also owns the WWE and other media, had founded the original XFL back in 1999, where it ran for only one season in 2001.
But this XFL seems determined and destined to stay, for at least a little while.
Detractors of the league were worried the league would end up like last year’s forgettable Alliance of American Football (AAF), which folded after only a year of play.
“The AAF was a sham league that just wanted to beat the XFL to the punch, and it failed very badly,” said Grant Gierhahn.
The league launched on Feb. 8, the Saturday after the NFL’s Super Bowl LIV had concluded. The season will play for ten weeks into April, where the top two teams in each conference (East and West) will play in a single-elimination tournament to determine a league champion.
The current lineup of teams includes eight clubs, four in each conference. The Western Conference consists Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and the Seattle Dragons. The D.C. Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, and Tampa Bay Vipers make up the Eastern Conference.
The league kicked off its inaugural season (again) with critical acclaim and excitement from all around. The internet was abuzz with the prospect that football was not over for the year, even if it was not the NFL.
“I was excited for more football immediately after the NFL season ended. It is nice to have something to help bridge the gap between seasons of football; it really gives the XFL a market,” said Lou Stepanek.
The games seem to be a hit so far, with attendance increasing every week. As of week three, each game averages 20,000 in attendance. Ratings are down from their peak in week one, but there is hope they will stabilize and not continue to drop.
The media have already begun to get at stories to develop, and lots of attention has been directed to Cardale Jones of the DC Defenders. Jones is a former Ohio State Buckeye who won a national championship with the Buckeyes in 2015 and has been playing at an MVP level in the XFL.
“I love watching the XFL. The fast pace, rule changes, and big hits make it a fresh change of pace from the NFL. I love the action,” said Jimmy Maguire.
And rule changes indeed. Kickoffs are totally revamped, with no running starts at all. Teams now line up five yards apart, with a returner and kicker separate from the rest of the players for each team.
Punts are also discouraged, as the ball is placed on the team’s 45 yard-line if it goes out of bounds or in the endzone.
Point after touchdown are also different with no kicking involved. Teams now try from the two yard-line for one point, from the five yard-line for two points, and from the ten yard-line for three points.
All these innovations and the many more the XFL have made have really shook up the football scene, and people are asking if the NFL will adopt any of these rules.
Vince McMahon may have finally found a formula that works. Here’s to the XFL, and 12 extra weeks of football.