Curtis Gaines III, Features Editor
On Feb. 8, six days after the Super Bowl, the XFL commenced their first season in 19 years.
Founded by CEO of WWE, Vince McMahon, the rebooted football league returns to the football world after just one season in 2001. This time around, the XFL is looking to correct past mistakes by providing a competitive, springtime option for football fans to enjoy during the NFL off–season.
The East division features the DC Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks and Tampa Bay Vipers. The West division features the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats and Seattle Dragons.
The season spans over a ten-week regular season with the top two teams from their respective conference facing off for a chance to play for the XFL Championship. That game is scheduled to be played on April 26 in Houston, TX.
“America’s favorite game is evolving,” stated XFL’s official website. “That means less stall and more ball.”
XFL is aiming to provide fans with a faster and enjoyable football experience. This is all done with the help of unique rules that would be evident during a standard XFL game.
An example is the elimination of kicking an extra point following a touchdown. Instead, a team has the option of running a play from the 2, 5 or 10-yard line, worth 1, 2 or 3 points respectively.
The highlight of the XFL experience comes from its overall television production. Handled by Fox and ESPN, the XFL is notable for its use of interviews with coaches and players in the middle of its game.
The XFL also broadcasts coaches as they discuss plays with their teams as well. With these interviews, it puts the viewer on the field by giving insight into what the players are seeing and how they feel in certain situations.
A prime example was during the Week 2 matchup between the New York Guardians and DC Defenders.
Shortly before halftime, Guardians quarterback, Matt McGloin, openly criticized his coaches and the team’s gameplan after throwing an interception. Head coach, Kevin Gilbride, was informed about his quarterback’s interview and told the same interviewer that he would “talk to him and figure out what the problem is.”
After throwing another interception and getting benched, McGloin would again criticize his coaches and teammates from the sidelines.
Seeing raw drama unfold, instead of getting a filtered version of that conversation in a post-game press conference, adds to the unpredictable nature of the XFL. By creating that transparency between the viewer and the athletes on the field, it creates a relationship unlike any other in professional sports.
For the next three seasons, McMahon is likely to lose out on roughly $375 million with the XFL.
In that time, there are plenty of ways for XFL to make a permanent stay for spring football.
Expanding the league to cities that do not have a professional football team, like Canton, Ohio and San Diego, California can help keep the new league afloat.
Also for big market cities that have both an XFL and NFL team that had a struggling season, the XFL could be an opportunity to actually watch a winning home game.
As a disgruntled Jets fan, it would be great to watch the Guardians win in person.
Another way for the league to thrive is an exclusive video game license.
For the past few years, fans of the Madden video game franchise have been unhappy over the quality of its games. Because developers, such as EA Sports, have an exclusive license with the NFL, Madden is the only option for football fans as a video game.
However, if the XFL gets their own license with 2K Sports, the company responsible for making ESPN NFL 2K5, regarded as one of the greatest sports games of all time, it could be the competition that EA Sports needs to produce a better football experience.
For newer fans of the XFL, the league can serve as a fun introduction to football. Growing as a new fan with a new professional league can be an amazing and unique way to learn about the game.
Only time will tell if the XFL will be around to provide that experience.