By Jordan Kendall, Assistant Sports Editor
After the unexpected fall of the AAF, the XFL looks to be the new league that provides fans with football during the NFL offseason. Unlike the Alliance, this league is being resurrected after a notable one-season initial run in 2001. The XFL was known to be one of the worst leagues of all time, putting a significant emphasis on WWE-like entertainment instead of focusing on football. This time, however, it looks a lot more promising, and here are a few reasons why the XFL has a chance to succeed.
It actually has money:
An ESPN article published last year reported that WWE chairman and founder of the XFL Vince McMahon is putting $500 million towards the league.
The Alliance folded after a $250 million investment, the fact that McMahon put double that into this league says a lot about how serious he is this time. He knows, and has said multiple times, the XFL was a disaster and has since promised he would ensure a better product on the field.
In an interview with ESPN, McMahon said “A chance to do it with no partners, strictly funded by me, which would allow me to look in the mirror and say, ‘You were the one who screwed this up,’ or ‘You made this thing a success.”
“People were focused on the $100 million, but the truth is that doesn’t even get us to the 20-yard line,” said XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck.
Seeing this type of investment and commitment gives me hope this league can last, and if fans can get behind it the potential could surpass what the AAF was supposed to be.
No criminals allowed, period:
Another aspect the XFL has is any player with a criminal record will not be allowed to play.
“You want someone who does not have any criminality associated whatsoever with them. Even if you have a DUI you will not play in the XFL,” McMahon said. “So that will probably eliminate some of them. Not all of them.”
With all the off the field issues the NFL faces; this is a great sign since only players who are great on and off the field will represent the league. Athletes have a unique platform to inspire the next generation, and kids who watch this league and don’t see any of them getting into trouble will have much better role models to look up to.
McMahon said that “We are evaluating a player based on many things, including the quality of human being they are.”
Every year around the draft, we hear of players with off the field concerns that still get drafted high, and some such as Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill never seem to learn from their mistakes. The game of football will be much better knowing that the players are serious about playing football and the opportunity the XFL provides them.
The first version of the XFL was heavily criticized for the lack of quality football since the teams had little time to practice before playing. The draft was in late October and the season started in early February; teams had one month in training camp to prepare for not only a new season but a new league. The results were sloppy football deemed unwatchable by many and were not what the league advertised.
The XFL wanted to be a physical league known for bone-crushing hits, yet defenses couldn’t tackle, and offenses couldn’t score. This time it appears to be different, teams were formed this year and will have over a year to prepare to play.
McMahon knew this and said, “It’s extremely important that we have time to get together and get them practicing so we can have a quality product.”
The AAF started a year earlier since they wanted to get ahead and not compete immediately with the XFL. Seeing how it turned out, waiting a year to ensure everything is ready could be the best thing the XFL can do. It’s obvious, based on the TV ratings that fans want football in the offseason, and if the XFL can take advantage and learn from their mistakes they have the potential to be a successful league.
The XFL appears to be the league that can take the next step and survives vs the NFL’s monopoly. I thought the AAF could one day be the developmental league the NFL needs, and even though the XFL doesn’t want to be the minor league, it still looks promising and I look forward to 2020.
One of the teams is located in Washington D.C., so if you are interested in checking out the league, we will have one nearby.