For XFL 2.0, it’s halftime in the two-year runway from inception to kickoff. Taking the approach of the “tortoise” in a well-known children’s fable, the XFL has let the “hare” race towards the finish line at double-speed.
Of course, the hare is the Alliance of American Football, who is kicking off their inaugural season in one short week. They announced their endeavor later than the XFL, but they have rushed through the task of creating a league, establishing eight teams, hiring coaches, players, officials, signing television contracts, and selling tickets. All that is left is to kickoff the football and measure their success.
Meanwhile, much like the tortoise, the XFL seems to be plodding along. Slow and steady wins the race, right?
In the midst of massive Super Bowl hype, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck spent time in Atlanta speaking positively about his league to anyone who would listen. Without a big bag of “hype” to spread around, Luck relied on a positive vibe meant to assure the world that the XFL was doing the right things at the right time, and their pace would lead to success.
Luck talked about Vince McMahon being hands-on, but only as hands-on as one would expect from a CEO of a company. “It’s vertically integrated. That’s what the experts say,” said Luck. Reading between the lines, the positive vibe was that McMahon is involved, but not as involved as the first incarnation of the XFL.
Luck also framed the previous XFL’s limited success by spinning a positive vibe. “We want to do things differently but not be ‘gimmicky.’ People looked at the XFL in 2001 and saw two things that the football population might’ve viewed as gimmicky and weren’t accepted were the skycam and on-field reporters. Nobody was doing that stuff back then and now it’s commonplace.”
He’s right about that.
Luck also gave a positive nod to future XFL officiating by describing a planned nine-person officiating crew with an official stationed in “the truck” meant to quickly handle replays or missed calls in 30 seconds or less.
He had all the answers.
Luck also addressed league salaries, hiring coaches and players, and its relationship with the NFL. He answered all questions with aplomb, demonstrating the coolness of his leadership, i.e., more positive vibe for the XFL.
Clearly, the motive of the XFL was to be able to score points during the NFL’s biggest weekend, and in the shadow of the AAF kickoff, a league seen as their biggest competitor.
Remember that tortoise? He had a positive vibe. He won the race.
If you recall, a year ago, on Super Bowl Sunday, the XFL released a set of humorous videos attacking the NFL over some of the things the fans hate about the league: confusion over when a catch is a catch, the slow pace of the NFL game, and rules in the NFL that are confusing.
We await to see if the XFL is preparing a new attack on the NFL, or if they are now more content to let their positive vibe carry them along.
A rabid football fan, and founder and owner of XFLBoard.com since April 2000, Mark Nelson is happy to see the XFL come back for a second go around the buoy.