Introducing the XFL

Aaron Pellican

Vince McMahon, chairman and CEO of the WWE, decided to create an alternate football league back in 2000. It would pick-up where the NFL season left off after the annual super bowl.  

McMahon’s pitch to Dick Ebersol and the rest of NBC Sports was a more fun form of football. It would have different rules, different looks into huddles and sideline interactions, and live microphones all throughout the field of action–among other things.  

Even though McMahon had preached that the league would be strictly football, non-football distractions such as weird scripted cutscenes away from action eventually led to the XFL being cancelled after its initial season in 2001.  

But here we are again in 2020, and Vince McMahon is back and still trying to create the alternative professional football league which will compete with the NFL. This time, the league truly is stripped-down to just football, and so far, it is off to a good start with its fans and the national sports media.  

For a long time now, different leagues have tried to contend with the NFL and loosen the chokehold it has on professional football. On top of the first attempt made by the XFL other leagues such as the AFL and the AAF have tried and failed to fight against the goliath which is the NFL.  

They had the highest ratings in all of television in their first week of action and it was backed up by mostly solid play on the field. The play on the field is a big part of the success of the XFL in general. 

Although the general public loves their football, they will not waste their time watching bad football, which will be the league’s most difficult hurdle to overcome.  

The league has helped their odds with some cool new rule changes which have been popular among fans and some may even find their way into the NFL soon. The most talked-about rule change is on the kickoff. The kickoff in the NFL has been highly debated and been changed multiple times in recent history due to its highly physical nature and high risk of injury. 

The rule changes made by the NFL to the kickoff have all but eliminated the kickoff from relevancy in the game. This has infuriated fans. 

The XFL brought a solution to the table when it debuted its version of the new kickoff this past week in the leagues grand opening.  

On the kickoff, 10 players from the receiving team will line up on their own 30-yard line. The kick coverage team lines up five yards away on the 35-yard line. Both teams are required to have three players outside the hash marks on each side and four between the hash marks. 

The proximity of the two teams is intended to limit the high-speed collisions that contribute to the number of concussions that occur on kickoffs. The kicker kicks the ball from his own 25-yard line and neither the coverage team nor the blockers may move until either the ball is caught or three seconds after it hits the ground.  

This has been a popular solution on social media as some NFL players have even come out and supported the league and its new kickoff rule. The rule successfully retains what was once one of the most exciting plays in football all while limiting the high impact collisions that were cause for significant worry.  

Other rule changes which have been successful to this point include the double-forward pass which allows two forward passes in one play and the extra point system which has eliminated kicking a one point field goal and gives teams the option to choose to try a one, two, or three point conversion.  

The most important part about this league, however, is that it gives opportunities to the players and coaches who have been kept just outside of the NFL bubble and are dying for a chance to show their abilities in a competitive atmosphere.  

This league is a means of making a living to a lot of the men out on the field. Two weeks in and the league is off to a good start with great ratings and a competitive brand of football being displayed on the field.  

Even though some teams have gotten off to horrendous start, support seems to be much more solid for the XFL now than it was in 2001, and definitely more solid than the support the AAF received when it flared out not too long ago as well. Perhaps this is finally the alternative professional football league that has a stay.