Is the XFL the extra dose of football we all need?
The off-season blues kick in the moment that final whistle blows at the Super Bowl, it signals the dark months of the year where football fans are left with little more than crumbs to satisfy their football fix.
With the introduction of the reformed XFL and announcement of their 2020 schedule this may no longer be the case. Football fans may be able to satisfy their cravings with 12 extra weeks of football a year.
What is the XFL?
The XFL is an American Football league scheduled to begin in February 2020, the league is owned by Vince McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment.
Featuring eight teams, all owned and controlled centrally by the league, It will follow a 10 game season followed by a two week postseason. Operating across markets currently or formerly represented by the NFL.
Some may remember the failed attempt at the XFL in 2001, started as a joint venture between the then WWF - now WWE - and NBC as a competitor to the NFL. NBC, who had recently lost their NFL broadcast rights to CBS were keen to make the league work, but after a strong start, viewing rates turned south and the XFL never made it past its inaugural season.
The league took heavy criticism on two fronts, many claimed they relied too heavily on the gimmicks that made wrestling popular, while others stated the lack of top tier talent ultimately meant the quality of games declined.
"Quite frankly I looked at a number of things, but nothing resonated like the XFL. There's only so many things that have 'FL' on the end of them and those are already taken. But we aren't going to have much of what the XFL had…” - Vince McMahon
McMahon has stated on several occasions that while the league may share the same name as its predecessor, it will be a whole new football experience. It will rely less on the gimmicks and focus more on delivering football, aiming to keep audiences entertained and engaged.
The biggest difference NFL fans will spot are the changes to the game clock and the rules aimed at pacing the game. Here are just a couple of changes, aimed at speeding up the game:
Outside of the two minute warning and a change in possession, the clock will run continuously
The play clock will only be 25 seconds long, starting from the end of the previous play. (NFL and college football uses a 40 second play clock)
Instant replays will be restricted to 30 seconds. No clarification has been added on how or when coaches can request replay reviews
A ‘ball judge’ will be added to the officiating team. Their role will be to speed up the placement of the ball
A number of proposed rules have also been floated by the XFL, such as scrapping half time and placing one-way radios in the helmets of all players to eliminate the need for a huddle. These are once again aimed at “streamlining” the game and delivering faster more action packed games to football fans.
Who, What, When, Where and Why?
For those fans who just can’t quite bare the off season, there is good news, the XFL will be kicking off on Saturday 8 February 2020, less than a week after Super Bowl LIV.
That inaugural games takes place between the DC Defenders and the Seattle Dragons at 2pm ET, followed later that day by Los Angeles Wildcats vs Houston Roughnecks.
The league will be split into two conferences, Eastern and Western, with each conference made up of four teams.
The 10 week season will feature no bye week for any of the teams, with games being played on both the Saturday and Sunday, in primarily the afternoon and prime time slots. This will culminate in a two week postseason, one week being a single elimination playoff with the second hosting the XFL Championship game.
What are your predictions for the XFL? Will it help fill the gap left in the off-season, or will NFL fans still have the same issues they did with it in 2001?