Second Time Not the Charm for XFL

XFL cancels season, lays off employees, and announces no plans for 2021 season


Source: XFL

Just two months after it was revived, the XFL has been killed as the latest business to fall victim to COVID-19.

Jordan Anders, Sports Writer

Returning in January after almost twenty years, the XFL was determined to reinvent themselves after the 2001 season bust. Unfortunately, after five successful games, the XFL commissioner Oliver Luck announced that they were suspending the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the NBA, MLB, and NHL just suspended the season the XFL completely ended, reassuring their fans that they did have plans for next season.  Last Friday, the league laid off all of their employees except for some executives and announced there would be no 2021 season.

The venture was best summed up by XFL COO Jeffrey Pollack: “It’s done….It’s not coming back.”

We covered the start of the XFL season in February and discussed the troubled history of the league. In 2001, Dick Ebersaw from NBC sports and Vince McMahon from the WWE (WWF at the time) came together with an alternative league to compete with the NFL. The league was dogged by fan complaints over the rule changes, the safety issues, and the general disrespectful attitude of the league. This year’s league aimed to revive the XFL with a more mature attitude, a tighter league schedule, and new rules that did not put player safety at risk. Vince McMahon, owner of the XFL, spent two years in product development to ensure a new face from the 2001 XFL. While initial ratings for the league were solid, the dwindling attendance due to the virus put them in financial trouble and, with the rest of the  season being suspended, the owners have no choice but to pull the plug.

While the XFL was the first sports league to fall to the economic crisis caused by the global pandemic, it might not be the last. Baseball is currently trying to open its season with games happening with no attendance and in Florida and Arizona, while the NFL is talking to experts to see if their season will be impacted by the pandemic. While some events like the cancellation of March Madness and the Masters will hurt their leagues, many sports actually have insurance that will cover some of the costs of the pandemic. Wimbledon, for example, is receiving $141 million from insurers because the match is canceled. Still, the longer the pandemic goes on, the harder it will be for minor leagues and less popular teams to maintain their franchises. COVID-19 may spell an end to more than just the XFL.

Even though it might be the end of the league, it’s not the end of pro football for some players. The first to sign was P.J Walker who was a star in his five starts for the Houston Renegades as quarterback. After the XFL canceled its season, Walker signed a two-year deal with the Carolina Panthers under his former coach Matt Rhule. Quarterback for the St. Louis Battlehawks Jordan Ta’amu was next to sign, he got a one year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Deatrick Nichols, a defensive back for the Houston Renegades signed a one year deal with the New Orleans Saints after being the XFL’s interception leader of the season. Another defensive back, Dravon Askew-Henry from the New York Guardians signed a two-year deal with the New York Giants. With the window still open, there’s a chance former XFL players will be signed to the NFL before the draft next week.

Ultimately, the XFL will go down as an interesting experiment in trying to develop a competitor to the NFL. McMahon has said in interviews that he has no desire to bring the XFL back a third time, so this truly seems to be the end. While there are sure to be more important victims of this virus, perhaps the strangest loss at the end will be the second incarnation of a wild, fast paced football league.