Following three weeks of play, the XFL’s 8-team league reincarnation is on pace for success. Unlike its original launch in 2001, billionaire Vince McMahon, WWE CEO, believes this version is more grounded in traditional football, and the timing is right.
This is based on a study by the McKinsey Global Institute a few years ago finding that 40 million NFL fans want more football after the Super Bowl. There is a gap of approximately 6 months until the NFL preseason begins. The XFL hopes to fill 10 weeks of this void, and it kicked off the week following the Super Bowl. It will finish in April with the top four teams in a playoff for the championship.
The schedule mimics the NFL playoffs, as the eight teams match up both Saturday and Sunday with two different game times so that all four games can be viewed live. The games are televised on ABC, FOX/FS1, and ESPN/ESPN 2.
Week Four Schedule:
Saturday, February 29
Los Angeles Wildcats at New York Guardians, 11am PST @ ABC
Seattle Dragons at St. Louis BattleHawks, 2pm PST @ FOX
Sunday, March 1
Houston Roughnecks at Dallas Renegades, 1pm PST @ FS1
DC Defenders at Tampa Bay Vipers, 4pm PST @ ESPN2
Fans fortunate to live in these areas may attend a game for a fraction of NFL ticket prices, starting at $27 to $49 per ticket.
So how does the game compare to the NFL? The talent of the players are expected to be in between college and the NFL. There may be a few players who will have the opportunity to make an NFL roster based on their play in the XFL. Thus speed, size, and talent closely resemble the top level of college play.
The rules have been designed to speed up the game and make it more exciting than the NFL, while still protecting players’ safety. The commissioner of the league, Oliver Luck, said in an interview with ESPN, “The NFL is an awesome league. We view ourselves really, as a complement not as competition. We’re playing in the spring. It’s the time when there is no football, everybody’s in this national depression or national funk, because (there’s) Super Bowl and there’s no football to watch. So we aim to change that… So we’re really a complement to the national football league.”
Regarding the new rules, Luck said he was most excited about the extra point options that the coaches have. If a team scores a touchdown, they of course get six points, but then they have an option to go for one, two, or three extra points. One point is from the two-yard line, two points is from the five-yard line, and three points is from the 10-yard line.
“I think this one is going to be a lot of fun,” he told ESPN. “The other one that I really like is the fact that we’ve got a 25-second play clock. Contrast that with the 40-second play clock in the NFL, and that will mean that we’ll have a fast-paced, up-tempo game. Just a lot of action. Almost as if you’re watching a 3-hour, 2-minute drill, because we really think our teams will be playing fast.”
The kick-off in XFL is from the 30-yard line instead of the NFL’s 25. The remaining players line up five yards across one another on the receiving team’s 30 and 35-yard line and must wait until a player catches the ball. Since the players are five yards apart, they have a lower chance of injuries, since the players are moving at reduced speed upon contact.
Punt returns are also promoted. If punts go into the end zone or out of bounds, the opposing team begins the drive at their 35-yard line. Commissioner Luck plans for only 20 percent of drives to end in a punt between the 40-yard lines on the field.
Salaries of XFL players average around $55,000. The highest-paying salaries may reach $500,000 for top-rated quarterbacks, however there’s currently very few big name players, since they’re nearly all in the NFL. Landry Jones, Dallas quarterback, may be the most well-known player, along with Cardale Jones of DC.
Some of these players hope to rejoin or gain an opportunity to play in the NFL, but most are likely satisfied with having a career in the new XFL league. Coaches will also serve as general managers. They all have had prior success in football, such as Tampa’s Marc Trestman, New York’s Kevin Gilbride, and Dallas’ Bob Stoops.
Total attendance increased from week one with 69,818 to 81,942 during week three. The modified rules help increase the number of exciting plays and shorten the length of the game.
Football has become America’s most popular watched sport. Many factors point to continued success for the new XFL.