The year was 2001 and there was a new football league in town: the XFL. It was created as a collaboration between the WWE and NBC and they named it the "Xtreme Football League."
It was billed as a fun alternative to regular football programming and had a few different rules. For example, there was no coin toss to decide possession. Instead, teams would select players to raise for the football and then scramble for it.
WWE owner Vince McMahon was the one who originally pushed for the XFL to become the gold standard for all good ol' American football action, but people weren't really feeling it. The XFL only lasted for one season before the plug was pulled, and now, some 18 years later, it's been resurrected. Vince did retain ownership of the XFL brand and he's behind the new push to put it back into the limelight.
So, what is XFL football in 2019?
XFL President and COO Jeffrey Pollack said: "The XFL is about football and fun, and our team identities are intended to signify just that. Now it's up to our fans and players to help write the story. What happens on the field and in the community, in the years ahead, will determine the true spirit of each team."
One of the biggest critiques of football is that the game can drag from time to time, with all of the timeouts, and stop-and-go action. The XFL's rule set is supposed to be a remedy for that. According to Jeffrey, they're looking to make the league a faster-paced, more exciting league for sports fans.
He said it will be "faster, with more plays, less stall, fewer interruptions, and no gimmicks."
According to the XFL's website, "We're sifting through the thousands of suggestions and recommendations we've received from fans, players, coaches, and experts on ways to improve the game. Bottom line: every element of the game is under review to see where we can make improvements. We are already field-testing each potential change and if we approve it, you will see it. If not, it's trash."
You can tell just from the copy on the site that they're going for an "edgier" vibe with the league, which is certainly in line with what the XFL was all about when it originally debuted in 2001.
But will this edge translate to success? Not to be a downer, but the XFL's past, along with a failure of another football league this year, the Alliance of American Football, doesn't bode too well for the new organization. The AAF filed for bankruptcy in April of 2019.
There are eight new XFL teams for now — with brand new logos to match.
What the XFL does have going for it is a "starting small" mentality. For starters, they've selected eight total teams in eight cities to kick-off (haha) the games when the first season begins in February 2020.
- The Dallas Renegades
- The Houston Roughnecks
- The LA Wildcats
- The New York Guardians
- The St. Louis Battlehawks
- The Seattle Dragons
- The Tampa Bay vipers
- The Oklahoma City Defenders
The XFL's 2020 schedule — and how to watch!
The very first game will take place on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. EST on ABC and another match up at 5 p.m. EST on FOX— with subsequent games taking place every Saturday and Sunday until the XFL Championship Game on April 26 at 3 p.m. on ESPN. You can check out the full schedule here.
Will there be NFL players on XFL teams?
On Aug. 31, the NFL will be forced to release 1,184 players, which means you can be seeing a pro footballer wearing an XFL jersey in 2020. Former Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Landy Jones has already signed with the XFL and the league has extended draft invitations to others, including Troy QB Brandon Silvers.
Extending invitations to our draft process marks the next step on an extraordinary football journey,” XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said. "Many of the outstanding athletes who receive a Commissioner’s Invitation will be among the first to take the field in our new league, proudly representing their fans and their communities. I am delighted to offer them this exciting opportunity."
The XFL draft will take place in October, and each team will select 70 players.
How much do XFL players get paid?
There is definitely an incentive for players to join the XFL. The league will have four salary levels, the first being $250,000 (the NFL's minimum salary), which will be assigned to one player will be assigned, presumably the quarterback. The second tier will have room for three players, with salaries ranging from $150,000 to $175,000 and the third (and largest) tier will have a salary range of $70,000 and $100,000 for 23 players.
The bottom tier — $50,000 — will be allotted to 18 players. Not too shabby for playing football.
Will you be tuning into the XFL? Or is it NFL or bust for you?