For the Love of Football

Vince McMahon’s unique XFL league made a comeback no one was expecting


XFL Instagram

Promo from the XFL official instagram account of all eight teams.

Jordan Anders, Sports Writer

Back in 2001, Chairman and CEO of the WWE, Vince McMahon had his eyes set on a new venture: the first XFL. McMahon wanted to compete with the NFL and create a new, exciting type of football. The reason for this flop would include lack of teams, players, and coaches but also an unfortunate blimp accident that was advertising the XFL was “heard around the world”, not kidding.

Despite this, McMahon and Alpha Entertainment announced in 2018 that they would bring back the XFL. Last Saturday, the new XFL kicked off the first week of their inaugural ten-week season, just one week after the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl 54. On February 8, the Seattle Dragons and Defenders faced off at Audi Field with the Defenders leaving 1-0. Later that day at TDECU stadium, the Wildcats and Roughnecks made their debut with Houston winning by 20. The next day, the Vipers and Guardians faced off with the Guardians taking their first win, then the Battlehawks and Renegades had the last game of the weekend with the Battlehawks winning at Globe Life Park. If ratings stay up for the next nine weeks then the XFL should stick around for some time.

What is the XFL?

The XFL has a brief yet wild history. The ‘X’ has no meaning and ‘FL’ stands for Football League, yet some founders joking called it the “Xtra Fun League.” Dick Ebersaw from NBC sports and Vince McMahon from the WWE (WWF at the time) came together with a simple interest; compete with the NFL. The thought process was filling the gap between off-season football for the NFL with a new league fans could watch. A true upgrade has been the new team names, 2001 XFL had the New York-New Jersey Hitmen and the Memphis Maniax but modern day has better names. There are eight new teams broken down into two divisions: East and West. The XFL East division has the D.C. Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks and Tampa Bay Vipers. The XFL West has the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons. They will play for the next 10 weeks and playoffs will be April 18th and 19th, the championship will be on Sunday, April 26th. 

How the XFL is different from the NFL?

The XFL is still traditional football but with 15 official rule changes. One big change is the kickoff: the punter has to kick the ball past the 20-yard line. This change was made to encourage returns on kickoffs and punts. The reasoning behind this new kickoff rule is safety. This new rule will encourage more kick returns while making the play less dangerous by eliminating the 30-yard sprint to a collision, the NFL, on the other hand, encourages touchbacks to lower risk of an injury which makes a waste of a play. One other big change the XFL has made is getting rid of field goals for extra points instead- the scoring team has a chance to run the ball in for extra points: 1 point from the 2-yard line, 2 points from the 5-yard line, and 3 points from the 10-yard line. Overtime has changed to a “shootout” approach like they do in the NHL. It will consist of 5 rounds alternating single play possessions. Minor changes would include a faster play clock, one foot inbounds instead of two and direct interviews after big plays.

What’s Next?

If you want to see the XFL for yourself, there are four games this weekend. This Saturday, the New York Guardians will face the D.C. Defenders at Audi Field–you can catch the game at noon on ABC. Later at 3 pm, the Tampa Bay Vipers and the Seattle Dragons will play at CenturyLink Field–you can catch this game on FOX. On Sunday, the Dallas Renegades will play the Los Angeles Wildcats at 1 pm–you can watch on ABC. At 4 pm on FS1, you can catch the last game, where the St. Louis BattleHawks and Houston Renegades will play at TDECU stadium.