The XFL Is Back And Better Than Ever

Football | 1/24/20

Americans are nuts about football. Like out of their minds crazy about it. And while the NFL is the king of the sport, many businessmen have hoped to find a form of competition for the league. No one has ever succeeded, though the 1980’s USFL came relatively close.

The XFL crashed and burned during their challenge to the league in 2000. While the league got off to a hot start, controversy eventually ended their challenge to the league. The XFL will be back in 2020 with more of a focus on football and less concentration on flash. Here are some facts about the current and past incarnations.

WWE Chief Vince McMahon Is Responsible For Both The League’s Incarnations

vince mcmahon created the XFL twice
Tom Hauck /Allsport
Tom Hauck /Allsport

While Vince McMahon has done quite well with his World Wrestling Entertainment promotion, he has always looked to expand his reach. The WWE has dabbled in music, television, movies, and other sports.

While the original XFL did not last for long, it is fondly remembered by some fans. Enough fans, in fact, for McMahon to take another shot. The entertainment mogul is excited to again offer fans an alternative to the NFL, which also gives players a shot to make their way to the big leagues.

The Original XFL Had A Number Of Point After Opportunities

xfl player for the hitmen
Todd Warshaw /Allsport
Todd Warshaw /Allsport

When the XFL debuted in 2000, the NFL offered two choices after a team scored a touchdown. They could make a short kick for one point or attempt a play from the two-yard line for two points. Teams almost always opted for the one point try.

The XFL wiped the one point try off the board. In order to receive an additional point, teams needed to score from the one-yard line. The league also added a two-point try from the five and a three-point try from the ten.

The New XFL Game Will Be Sped Up

tommy maddox of the nxfl
Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Watching an NFL game can take quite a while. Fans that want to watch two NFL games on a Sunday could be looking into a 6 or 7 hour time investment. The new XFL wants to change that.

McMahon has promised fans that watching his football league will not be laborious. He has considered ideas to shave time like eliminating half time. Of course, the reason why NFL games take so long in the first place is the numerous commercials. McMahon has said nothing about advertising.

Many XFL Alumni Made The NFL

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Christopher Ruppel /Allsport
Christopher Ruppel /Allsport

While the XFL was meant to be a competitor to the NFL, it also acted as a sort of feeder system for the larger league. The vast majority of players in the league had played major college football or went to training camp with a pro team.

Tommy Maddox, who went onto become a starter for the Steelers for a few years was the biggest success story. Rod “He Hate Me” Smart played in a Super Bowl and Steve Gleason became a folk hero in New Orleans.

McMahon Wants The New XFL To Be Apolitical

xfl creator
Leon Halip/WireImage
Leon Halip/WireImage

Politics will sometimes have something to do with the NFL. The protests of Colin Kaepernick may be the biggest political issue in the league the past few years and Vince McMahon feels that may have turned off fans.

The head of the XFL has promised fans that there will be no politics involved in the new XFL. He said in a statement that the league will avoid any of those issues and will simply focus on “good football.”

The Old XFL Didn’t Allow Fair Catches

xfl enforcers team
Scott Halleran/ALLSPORT
Scott Halleran/ALLSPORT

In the 20 years since the XFL first debuted, players and doctors now understand much more about concussions. And it is now known that the most dangerous plays for head injuries are kickoff and punt returns.

The old XFL cared nothing about protecting players during punt returners. In the NFL, players returning punts are protected by a multi-yard halo and can call for a fair catch. Like in the old XFL, there will be no fair catches, but players must give the returner room.

The Teams Are Spread All Over The Country

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Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL has a pretty large number of teams, 32 squads to be exact. The new XFL will start much smaller than that. The league will start with a total of 8 teams with the hope to add more in the coming years.

The teams will be spread all over the map. On the East Coast will be the New York Guardians, the DC Defenders, the St. Louis BattleHawks and the Tampa Bay Vipers. On the west will be the LA Wildcats, the Seattle Dragons, the Houston Roughnecks, and the Dallas Renegades.

There Was No Coin Flip In The Initial XFL

xfl players
Scott Halleran/Allsport
Scott Halleran/Allsport

The 2000 version of the XFL really worked to be different from standard football. And in some ways, it was more similar to rugby than it was to traditional American football.

Rather than having a coin flip, a ball was thrown and two players would race after the ball like a rugby scrum. Like the lack of fair catches in the original incarnation, this type of play could also lead to head injuries. It’s unknown if there will be a coin flip or not in the new version.

The New XFL Will Feature Familiar Faces

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Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are plenty of players out there who think they could be stars in the NFL if only given the chance. With no viable minor league football system, the XFL may be their best shot to get there.

There will be plenty of familiar faces in the new XFL. Players known to fans will include Cameron Artis-Payne, Scooby Wright, Sammie Coates, Christine Michele, Jace Amaro, and Will Hill. Quarterbacks will include Matt McGloin, Cardale Jones, Aaron Murray, and Landry Jones.

There Will Be No Franchises

xfl team san francisco
Tom Hauck /Allsport
Tom Hauck /Allsport

In the NFL, each team is owned by a specific person, family or group. The quality of these owners vary and can have a significant impact on the success of each squad. The XFL will operate a bit differently.

Each team in the league will be owned by the XFL. This means that standards and practices will be a bit more uniform. The league has a salary cap and structure and there will be a standard punishment scale that each team follows.

The Old Ball Was Really Hard To Hold Onto

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Jeff Gross /Allsport
Jeff Gross /Allsport

The NFL, the NCAA and all other groups of organized football usually play with a traditional pigskin. The XFL, though, played with an eye-catching red and black ball. The special ball presented plenty of problems.

The dye used in the red and black ball would bleed if the ball was to get wet. This made it especially difficult to handle once it was raining and the ball got wet. From the looks of it, the new league will feature a more traditional football.

Vince McMahon Will Not Be As Involved As He Was In 2000

vince mcmahon xfl
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Vince McMahon is really used to being the face of a promotion. Not only does he own the WWE, he is, quite possibly, the wrestling organization’s biggest star. And in the 2000 XFL, he was often seen on camera.

It has been revealed that McMahon will be much less involved this time around, as he feels the first XFL was more of a sideshow than a football league. In 2020, the focus will be on the talent of the players.

In 2000, Players Could Put Whatever Name They Wanted On Their Jerseys

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Todd Warshaw /Allsport
Todd Warshaw /Allsport

One of the most well-remembered features of the original XFL is that players could put whatever name they wanted on their jerseys. This led to many players using nicknames rather than their surnames. Rod Smart, memorably, had “He Hate Me” on his uniform.

The XFL in 2020, though, has put an emphasis on seeming like a more professional organization. The football league has brought in a number of accomplished front-office types and they want to make sure the league stays gimmick-free.

Oliver Luck Is In Charge Of The League

oliver luck xfl
Allen Kee/MLS
Allen Kee/MLS

The 2000 version of the XFL featured brash personalities like Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Vince McMahon, himself. The 2020 version went out of its way to find people who were well established in running sports programs.

The commissioner of the league is Oliver Luck. While he is well known as former Colts’ star Andrew Luck’s father, he’s also been an executive with the NCAA and General Manager of the MLS’s Houston Dynamo. Also involved in the league is former Bills General Manager Doug Whaley.

The Cheerleaders Were A Major Part Of The 2000 Show

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Todd Warshaw /Allsport
Todd Warshaw /Allsport

The XFL started out on fire in 2000, but the ratings quickly declined after that. The league decided one of the best ways to recapture their audience was to put more of a focus on the cheerleaders.

The XFL fully admitted that the ladies were being objectified. They then took it a step further. During a late-season game, the broadcast booth revealed that cameras would be put in the cheerleader locker rooms at halftime. While it was a total stunt, it was seen as misogynistic.

There Will Be Zero Tolerance On Crime

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Todd Warshaw/ALLSPORT
Todd Warshaw/ALLSPORT

During any given season a number of NFL football players are arrested. The reasons can vary from domestic violence to driving under the influence to assault. The NFL has a confusing set of disciplinary standards that are incorporated when a player commits a crime.

The XFL will have no such set of standards as anyone who commits an arrestable offense will be removed from the league. Players who have committed a crime in the past will not be eligible.

An NFL Competitor Recently Failed

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Ronald Cortes//Getty Images
Ronald Cortes//Getty Images

The ratings for both college football and the NFL show that viewers have an incredible appetite for the sport. That inspires plenty of entrepreneurs to try and create their own league. It is easier said than done, though.

In 2018, Charlie Ebersol, whose father Dick was involved in the original XFL, created the Alliance of American Football. The league barely made it off the ground despite known players and TV coverage. The league folded after only one season.

The League Will Start Right After The Superbowl

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Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There have been a number of competing football leagues that played in the spring-time when it was thought that fans would be really hungry for the game then. Fans of the XFL, however, will not have to wait anywhere near that long.

The league will open their season on February 8th, exactly one weekend after the NFL plays its Super Bowl. Each team will play a total of 10 games with 4 of the teams making the playoffs.

Players Won’t Be Barred From Using One Substance

xfl qb throwing the ball
Stephen Dunn /Allsport
Stephen Dunn /Allsport

Despite the league’s push to avoid players with criminal records, there will be one thing permitted in the XFL that is not allowed in the NFL, marijuana. The drug is now legal in a number of US states including some that have XFL teams.

Many retired NFL players have come out to say that they see cannabis as a preferable alternative to potentially addictive painkillers. Players in the new XFL will be tested for drugs but won’t be punished if marijuana is in their system.

There Will Be Plenty Of TV Coverage

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Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

One of the main issues for many leagues hoping to challenge the NFL is getting appropriate airtime. The XFL will not have that problem, however, as all games will air on major networks like ABC, Fox, and ESPN.

Big names will be calling the game. Fox’s team will consist of Curt Menefee and Joel Klatt. The channel also hired Greg Olsen and Kevin Burkhart. ESPN and ABC will roll out Greg McElroy, Steve Levy, Tom Luginbill, and Dianna Russini.