It’s official, the XFL is coming back!
Moments ago Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO of WWE, held a press conference for his new business venture, Alpha Entertainment. The reason for this was to announce the re-launch of the XFL, which he hopes to begin in 2020. This will be an 8 team league. It will be played opposite the current NFL calendar, which is a shrewd move. People love watching football, and there’s a large chunk of the year where there’s no football to watch, so that’s a good business call.
For those not familiar with the XFL, this was a previous attempt by McMahon (in partnership with NBC) to break into the American Football market, which is essentially monopolised by the NFL. It ran for one season back in 2001, and is almost universally considered to be a massive failure. It’s believed that McMahon and NBC both lost roughly $35m each as a result of the failed venture. Vince himself evens recognises that the quality of the football was not good enough. He even mentioned at the announcement that this was the main issue with the original league.
To its credit, the XFL did implement some changes which the NFL have since taken on board, and some of these are still in place today. The majority of these revolve around presentation, such as Skycam, miked-up players, and sideline interviews, all of which bring viewers closer to the action and players.
In 2017, ESPN aired a terrific “30 for 30” documentary based on the league, entitled “This Was The XFL”. It’s currently quite difficult to source this without having an ESPN subscription, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you get the chance. (Here’s the trailer)
Due to improved research into concussions, CTE and player safety, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see this reborn with the exact same rulebook as the original XFL. It’s highly unlikely they will allow full bump and run coverage, due to the amount of hits the receivers will take. It’s also safe to assume the ill-conceived “opening scramble” is a thing of the past. However I would imagine some of their more interesting rules such as “no fair catches”, penalties for punting out of bounds and no PAT kicks will return.
Regarding the players, the teams will most likely be made up of players that have previously played in the NFL, CFL and Arena Football Leagues. We should also see them sign a good few undrafted players from the next few college classes. Having a few years to plan this gives them plenty of time to try recruit a large enough pool of quality players. We can also expect announcements about the more high profile signings, to help boost the hype around it. Could the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow all get another chance to be quarterbacks?
Unfortunately the league won’t begin until 2020, so we still have a few years to wait. They have not made any announcement regarding networks yet, but they know there is interest. With there being 7 months of no NFL each year, it’s safe to assume most networks will jump for good football content.
That’s all the information we have on the league for now unfortunately. Hopefully we should see more announcements of rules, high profile signings and schedules over the next few months. Please be sure to keep an eye on our 2BitSports Twitter Account, as we will keep you as up to date as possible on all things .