Story By Kyler Fleming
The XFL is back and brings a refreshing take on football along with it.
Three weeks into the season the XFL has brought a quality product to the field: Cardale Jones, Cameron Artis-Payne, Conner Cook, and Landry Jones were all college standouts. The league also includes Will Hill and Marquette King with successful NFL careers, so there is no lack of talent here.
It all started back in 2001 when Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol saw a need to make football tough again. Both men viewed the NFL as soft which led to the creation of the Xtreme Football League or the “XFL,” where rules were skewed towards bigger hits and more concussions. In this league there were eight teams, including the Orlando Rage and Memphis Maniax.
This league was not for the faint of heart; McMahon was and still is the CEO of the WWE, so the original XFL had a lot of WWE-like storytelling — fake romances, bad football and things that just aren’t appropriate for national television. The XFL lasted one year then folded, as it lost a lot of money due to not being received well.
It’s early 2018. McMahon, to the surprise of many, announces he is bringing back the XFL and that it will kick off in early 2020. Having seen his own league fail and the now-defunct Alliance of American Football fail because they began play only a year after announcement, McMahon opted for the two-year approach so players, staff and stadiums would be ready. The XFL player pool includes mostly post-graduate college players who weren’t good enough for the NFL, or older NFL players who got run out of the league due to lack of development or injuries. With one-and-a-half years to prepare, these players have been ready.
The best thing about the XFL is the rule changes. Previous XFL games had boring scores like 14-10, but there’s a reason for this.
The first and largest change is a running clock. On incompletions and throws out of bounds, the clock continues to run until the last two minutes of each half where it will stop. This speeds up game time so that viewers are not sitting in front of the TV for five hours waiting for a game to end.
Secondly, the XFL has a 25-second clock in between plays instead of 40 seconds, used by the NFL. This makes the offense move faster, making it more entertaining for fans.
Another major tweak in the game comes in overtime. The XFL overtime is similar to that of a hockey shootout — there are five rounds where both teams get one play to score from the five yard line — whoever scores the most wins. I really, really like this. It gets your heart pounding, unlike a whole extra quarter where the first team to score a touchdown wins in the NFL. With XFL’s system, anticlimactic outcomes would be erased, unlike in the NFL.
But where does the XFL go from here? There are two options.
First, it keeps being a league where failed college stars and NFL players can go and try to springboard their way back to the NFL through strong performance.
The other option would be doing what the AAF failed to do by becoming a fully-licensed NFL minor league. NFL teams could dump young players, or players they want on their practice squad into the XFL team in hopes of strong development so that they can improve and make a NFL roster. However, college football already kind of does that and practice squad players do, in fact, practice with the NFL team.
If the XFL keeps coming back year after year producing good, entertaining football, it could easily stick and be a fantastic football fan service for years to come.