Do you miss football?
Super Bowl LII was eight days ago on Sunday February 4 and there is not another live action game until the Hall of Fame game in July; if you can count the preseason. The USFL once filled the springs with relevant action that included future Hall of Fame players such as Warren Moon and Steve Young. Other leagues have tried and failed to replicate their short-term success, including a failed XFL experiment lasting just a single season back in 2001. However, Vince McMahon is once again looking to fill the void as he targets 2020 for the return of the XFL even claiming funding is in place for it to happen.
XFL guidelines given in their initial press conference:
- No cheerleaders
- No players with arrest records
- No outward politics
- Fan and family-friendly atmosphere
- Simplified rules
- Winter season
- Actual gametime in two hours including breaks
- 40-player roster with a 10 week season
- Eight markets to be determined later
There is also a sentiment it will be a single-entity sports league:
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 28, 2018
No other specifics were given leaving a whole slew of questions about how far each of the above measures might go and plenty of outlets fixating on one or more of them to believe there is a specific audience being targeted by the league.
The entire messaging of the XFL seems to be centered upon being anti-NFL. Most all major complaints about the NFL had a counter measure mentioned. Hate the NFL catch rule? The XFL claims to know what a catch is. Hate the NFL allowing players with DUIs and domestic violence and other crimes to be absolved based on their skill level? The XFL won’t even let those players into the league. Want to be able to tune out the partisan news for a couple hours? The XFL claims it will stick to sports.
It remains to be seen how McMahon plans to execute these goals. The commitment to a crime-free league is an example of the potential open-ended questions. What level of crime will bar entry? Will a player be immediately kicked out if arrested or will there be some form of due process? Would the XFL really have the gumption to boot a star player from the league for what might be considered a non-egregious crime?
Regardless, killing the XFL– as many in the media have decided is their calling– before we even know what it is seems odd. It might be terrible, it might be great. When it does launch, even if it is terrible, then it will give a chance for fringe NFL players to state their case. Not to mention potentially spurring innovation in the most popular sport in America. The Skycam, for one, has origins in the first XFL iteration.
McMahon has pledged to travel the country and solicit opinions about his reimagined football league. He also, no doubt, would like to develop a similar tact to the mad scramble for the Amazon second headquarters1 with cities fighting for a XFL team and giving free publicity in the process.
Toledo is in on it.
Indians might want to share Progressive Field:
Heard the XFL was back… pic.twitter.com/JlrvEuRSgH
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) January 26, 2018
Columbus is another Ohio city desiring more football:
“…It would make sense to expand somewhat northern for the XFL and Columbus could deliver a quality market in a football hotbed that thirsts for a winner as it splits loyalties with the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns.” #XFLtoColumbus
— XFL to Columbus (@ColumbusXFL) January 29, 2018
Salt Lake City even has a petition making the rounds:
— Xfl Salt Lake City (@SLCXFL) January 30, 2018
My thought is that the XFL will want some marketing gimmicks with the locations they pick, and their presser made obvious they will be attacking the NFL. The corollary tagline can be to each of these cities “The NFL doesn’t think you deserve a team, but we do.” Despite 32 markets being eliminated, there are some surprisingly large markets left on the table.
Eight city guess for XFL
- San Diego
- Bay Area2
- Salt Lake City
- San Antonio
- St. Louis
- Virginia Beach
Honorable Mention: Memphis, Orlando, Hartford, Toronto, Montreal, Portland, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Omaha, and Birmingham
The Western Conference is pretty well set despite leaving Portland Oregon off the list. There is more potential fluctuation in the Eastern Conference depending upon if the XFL wants to avoid poor weather months of February and March as much as possible. If so, then Orlando or Birmingham replacing Columbus would be on the docket– though it would seem odd for the state clamoring for the XFL the most to be left out.
We’ll see where McMahon wants to take the XFL, but let’s enjoy the ride.