Bob Stoops named XFL head Coach in Dallas

STAMFORD, CONN., February 7, 2019 – The XFL today announced that Bob Stoops, the winningest head coach in University of Oklahoma history, has been named head coach and general manager of the XFL team in Dallas.

“We’re incredibly excited to have an individual as accomplished as Bob Stoops join the XFL family,” said Oliver Luck, XFL Commissioner & CEO. “Bob’s achievements at Oklahoma are legendary, and he’s the perfect person to lead our team in Dallas. Having a coach as successful as Bob share the XFL’s vision to reimagine the game is energizing and further validates our mission.”

“I’m looking forward to working with Vince McMahon, Oliver Luck and the great group of people they’ve put together to help develop the XFL and build an outstanding team for fans in the Dallas area,” said Stoops. “When the chance to play a key role in building a new football league came my way I couldn’t pass it up. The style of play in this league will allow us to innovate and refresh the game, and that makes me excited to get back to the sideline again.”

Stoops’ accomplishments during his 18-season (1999-2016) tenure at Oklahoma seem endless. No head coach has led the Sooners to more victories (190), consecutive bowl berths (18) and Big 12 titles (10), than Stoops. During the Bowl Championship Series era, Stoops was the only coach to win a national championship (2000) and every BCS Bowl Game. His OU teams also played in three additional BCS National Championship Games and made the four-team 2015 College Football Playoff.

Stoops earned 19 Coach of the Year awards, including eight on the national level during his 18 seasons at OU. He reached 100 victories faster than any coach in college football history. Only five coaches needed fewer games than Stoops to reach the 150-win plateau (187 games). During his 18-year OU tenure, the Sooners led the nation with their .667 winning percentage (60-30 record) against AP Top 25 teams.

Stoops produced 37 first-team All-Americans, two AP Players of the Year and 79 NFL Draft picks as OU’s head coach. While there, he coached two Heisman Trophy winners (Jason White in 2003 and Sam Bradford in 2008) and seven Heisman finalists, as well as two more Heisman winners who earned the honor after his OU retirement (Baker Mayfield in 2017 and Kyler Murray in 2018). He also coached at his alma mater Iowa (1983-87), Kent State (1988), Kansas State (1989-95) and Florida (1996-98), where he served as defensive coordinator for the Gators’ 1996 national championship team.

As a standout college player, Stoops was a four-year starter at defensive back at Iowa (1979-82) under coach Hayden Fry who gave him his start in coaching. He made honorable mention All-American (1982) and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection (1979, 1982).

About The XFL

The XFL will reimagine football for the 21st century when it kicks off the weekend of February 8-9, 2020. The new league is committed to delivering a fan-centric, innovative experience, including fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment, complemented by cross-platform viewing options and real-time fan engagement.

Football is America’s favorite sport boasting over 85 million fans, but the traditional season is just too short. Seeing a tremendous opportunity to fill the void, Vince McMahon, XFL Founder and Chairman announced on January 25, 2018, the launch of a new league, which he is personally funding. McMahon is building the XFL with the same commitment and resolve that he has demonstrated building WWE into a global media and sports entertainment powerhouse.

Delivering authentic, high energy football for the whole family at an affordable price, the XFL will offer fast-paced games with fewer play stoppages and simpler rules. The league will launch with eight teams, 45-man active rosters, and a 10-week regular season schedule, with a postseason consisting of two semifinal playoff games and a championship game. The XFL will also establish a health, wellness and safety program that meets the needs of today’s athletes.

The XFL will embrace the latest on and off-field technology, providing live game coverage, content and real-time engagement across multiple platforms, giving fans greater access than ever before. The XFL is committed to building grassroots relationships with local organizations in its host cities through social responsibility partnerships, and the XFL will enjoy the support of WWE’s many extraordinary resources and promotional capabilities.

The XFL will launch next year in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington D.C.

For more information, visit XFL.com and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

XFL Running on Vibe

XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck is promoting the league through positive vibe.

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.

The Past

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.

It was 18-years ago. How well do you remember the XFL?

On 3 February 2001, Vince McMahon stood at the 50-yard line of Las Vegas’s Sam Boyd Stadium, and announced, “This is the XFL!”

The original XFL was launched on February 3rd, 2001, exactly 18-years ago today. To commemorate the anniversary, we present the XFL Quiz. It’s time to prove what you remember about the XFL. Be careful! You may find some of the questions to be a little tricky.

Changing the perception of The XFL

Oliver Luck spent Super-Bowl weekend on “Radio Row,” trying to gain a positive vibe for the XFL.”The XFL is going to be one and done again”… “The XFL is a Trumpian Nightmare”… “Is the XFL returning really still a thing?”… “No one wants to see that garbage again.”

The biggest hurdle that the current XFL faces is changing the perception of their league. Some of that perception is earned. The league is still paying for the sins of their past. They have so many things going against them, and the past provides proof, that isn’t very kind.

Current headlines like…”The XFL doesn’t want to be developmental league” are translated to mean, here they go again challenging and disrespecting the NFL. The old narrative won’t die. Even if in that very interview, Oliver Luck praised the NFL and college football. Luck talks fondly about the NFL and his son playing in it. He mentions reaching out to NFL execs, working for the league for 10 years and how the NFL is god and can never be challenged. However, because the old XFL took an adversarial approach towards the NFL, the perception is that the current XFL is going to do the same.

Changing the XFL’s perception is going to be an uphill battle. Not just with the mainstream media but with all football fans and the public in general. Everyone who works with the XFL currently knows this. Vince McMahon even considered changing the name of the league, because of the negative stigma that is still attached to it. Getting networks, sponsors, players, coaches, the media, and fans to buy into the XFL is a really tough sell for CEO Oliver Luck and his team.

So how does the XFL go about changing the perception and narrative attached to them. How does the league start to chip away at that negativity and build credibility?

THE TV RIGHTS DEAL

Despite all of Oliver Luck’s statements at Radio Row during this past week. The detractors and naysayers do not expect the XFL to be able to land a respectable broadcast deal. When the relaunch of the league was announced, the expectation level was very low. Most detractors and even some supporters, assumed that the league would be lucky to get any kind of real exposure. The thought going around was that the XFL would be on some type of streaming service, and that maybe it would land on some cable channel. If the league does in fact, land a rights deal with an ABC, FOX, or both. The doubters will immediately start to look at the league differently. Those who didn’t have an interest in joining or following the league, may change their tune if a respectable deal is announced. A deal with respectable TV partners, will also lead to better coverage of the league, as well as having credible broadcasters calling and covering the games. With all due respect to Jesse Ventura and Jim Ross. Their association with the league helped shape the perception, that the league was not legit. That it was a second-rate sports presentation.

HEAD COACHES

Despite the 500 million dollars invested by Vince McMahon. No one expects the XFL to take the USFL approach when it comes to signing players with name recognition from the NFL. In the past week, Oliver Luck has even mentioned advice he got from legendary NFL owner Lamar Hunt, of staying in your lane, knowing who you are and who you are not. This was advice, Luck received while running NFL Europe for 10 years. The one area where the league can get name value and recognition is their coaches. The expectation level here is low as well. The original XFL had some quality coaches, but most were seasoned coaches with no major NFL head coaching experience. There are some grand rumors out there now, with some big names as possibilities for the league. Oliver Luck teased this as well, that the league has former NFL and major college program coaches already signed up. If in fact, the XFL does announce head coaches with name value, this will give the league great credibility in the sports world. It would be a major selling point in attracting players to the league.

TEAM NAMES

The names of the league’s teams are expected to be revealed after the league announces their TV deal and coaches. For better or for worse, some of the negative perception, that the original XFL received was for their original 8 team names. There are still those who appreciated and enjoyed the unique and brash names like Rage, Maniax, Xtreme, Demons and Hitmen. These names were a sign of the times and fit the branding of the original XFL as a renegade league. However, there were many in the mainstream who saw the league’s names as a reflection of it being non-traditional and low-brow. One figures that the current XFL, is going to attempt to take the more traditional route of team names this time. It’s a fine line of being creative and edgy, without coming off as silly or gimmicky. The team names and logos will be a major factor in the perception of the league. The Seattle Psychos and New York Killers, just won’t fly this time around. The league wants to be taken seriously. At the same time, how a league brands it’s teams, will determine if the cities and fans will support them. Something as superficial as a logo, team colors or uniforms can sink a league if done wrong.

PLAYER SAFETY

This is also a divisive topic. There are some fans who don’t like what the NFL has become in recent years. They want to go back to the days when a Quarterback could be tackled and when there was more physicality in the sport. There is a major difference if you watch an NFL game 20 years ago compared to now. If you go back and watch an XFL game in 2001, you’ll think you are on a different planet. Hard hitting was not only allowed, it was glorified and encouraged. The sports world is changing and there’s no going back. How the current XFL handles player safety will aid them in gaining goodwill with the public and football community. The fact that they have hired famed Doctor Julian Bailes as their lead neurologist and have two of the nation’s leading insurance companies on board, are huge steps in the right direction. The league has to show that it cares about its players health and safety and that they are serious about running a respectful league.

POLITICS

This is going to be hard to avoid. Social issues and race seem to find their way into everything now. The last thing people want when watching entertainment or following sports is to have politics involved in any way. Sports and Entertainment are a form of escapism. Sports more than any other field unites people from all backgrounds. Politics ruin the enjoyment of sports. No one wants to hear about opposing viewpoints on abortion, when watching football. They just want to focus on the game. The current XFL has been painted by some in the media, as a right-wing organization with “Trump” values, partially because of the controversy surrounding players exercising their freedom of expression during national anthems. Some people have even suggested that Vince McMahon created this league to help the president in his never ending war with The NFL. The league needs to do everything in their power, to avoid politics and to avoid alienating people. It’s easier said than done, because every aspect of sports is scrutinized and viewed with a political bent nowadays. I’m all for the league and its players helping charities, families, and communities in their markets, but it would be wise for the league to avoid taking political stances in any way. It will get the league attention but the XFL should only be about the games and nothing else.

Some battles are lost before the war has even begun. That statement holds true in football. How a team prepares for battle, in the lead up to a game, can sometimes determine whether they will be able to obtain victory. In today’s world, your detractors will tell you, that you have already lost or failed in battle, before you even try to go to war. That’s precisely what is happening with the current incarnation of the XFL. The steps and moves that the XFL takes and makes in their journey to 2020, will help shape how their league is perceived when they eventually make it to the battle field.

Oliver Luck: XFL not a Developmental league for the NFL

In a radio interview, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck was adamant that Vince McMahon’s startup league, was not positioning itself as a developmental league for the NFL.

“Vince wants to develop a sustainable, standalone league,” Luck said. “He doesn’t want to be a developmental league. I ran a developmental league for 10 years, but I think Vince’s mindset is to build something that can last and sustain itself on its own without any support from the NFL or anyone else.”

Luck said the XFL is close to announcing broadcast agreements,, and clearly NFL Network will not be a partner.

Luck also clarified other details:

  • There will be drug testing for performance enhancing drugs.
  • Nicknames like “He Hate Me” is something the XFL will move away from.
  • Head coaches will make $500,000/year. Top players can make up to $250,000/year. There will likely be bonuses to teams for winning games.

XFL Partners with The Spring League to Reimagine Football

XFL Press Release

Stamford, Conn., January 30, 2019 – The XFL today announced that it has formed a partnership with The Spring League, an elite professional football development organization, to test changes to rules and gameplay as it works to reimagine the game when it kicks off in 2020. Testing during The Spring League’s upcoming season follows the XFL’s first testing session conducted last month, which featured two Mississippi-based junior college teams.

The Spring League will take the field in Austin, Texas from March 28 to April 11 and will provide players the opportunity to showcase their ability in front of the XFL, NFL and other professional football talent evaluators. While doing so, coaches will work closely with football operations executive from the XFL to blend in on-field adjustments the league has been researching and developing since announcing its return just over a year ago.

“We believe that conducting live R&D sessions to test out potential game adjustments in real time is critical,” Oliver Luck, XFL Commissioner & CEO. “Putting the best product on the field is out number one priority and thanks to partners like The Spring League, we are confident that the changes we eventually decide to deploy will have the desired effect and we will deliver outstanding football when we kick off.”

“This is an exciting partnership for The Spring League,” said Brian Woods, CEO of The Spring League, “We applaud the XFL’s effort to reimagine the game and simultaneously provide out players and additional opportunity to display their talents for the XFL coaches and scouts in attendance.”

In early December, XFL football operations personnel worked with the National Junior College Athletic Association and two member schools, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Pearl River Community College, to conduct its first live R&D session.

“The feedback we received from the players, coached and game officials who participated in our three R&D sessions in December was hugely beneficial,” said Doug Whaley, XFL Senior Vice President of Football Operations. “We’re excited to take that feedback, as well as observations from the hundreds of hours of tape we captured, and put these new adjustments on the field in real time with the incredibly talented players of The Spring League attracts.

Fan Choice: Vote on XFL Team Names

In 2000, when XFLBoard.com asked fans to weigh in on their choices for XFL 1.0 team names, the results were so interesting we decided to do it again.

As we await the official release of the team names by the XFL, we asked the fans to weigh in. Since January 13th, we have had hundreds of team name suggestions.

Now it’s time to vote! 

We now give you a chance to vote on the submissions we have received so far. If you don’t like the choices, you may still write-in your choice.

Instructions

  1. For each team, place a check next to all the choices you like.
  2. If you don’t like the choices offered, write in your vote at the end of each section.
  3. Click “Submit My Choices!” at the bottom of the form.

We will publish the winners and losers prior to the XFL releasing the official team names. Have fun!

Voting is now closed. Stay tuned as we tabulate the results.

The Alliance between Dick Ebersol and Vince McMahon

Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol – Credit: ESPN Films.”Do you ever have any thoughts of trying again?” Dick Ebersol asked Vince McMahon on the This was the XFL special done for the ESPN 30 for 30 series. Vince McMahon without hesitation responded, “Yes I do.” Ebersol responded with, “We’ll have to do it with our own money because I don’t work at NBC anymore.”

To borrow a line from the critically acclaimed 30 for 30 series. “What if I told you… that in May of 2001 when the XFL folded, that both McMahon and the Ebersols would be back in the football league business 18 years later, but this time as competitors.”

TV and Sports Broadcasting Legend Dick Ebersol, once called Vince McMahon. “The greatest partner he has ever had.” The relationship went beyond just business and mutual respect. Dick Ebersol told his wife that if anything were to happen to him. He wanted Vince McMahon to be the legal guardian and watch over his three children, Teddy, Willie and Charlie. There’s no greater testament of love for someone than entrusting them with that honor.

On February 3rd of 2000, Vince McMahon announced the launch of the XFL. A bold move in a series of risk-taking moves throughout his legendary career. McMahon embarked upon creating a football league from scratch with no outside financial backing. He gave himself only a year to do it. Over a month later, Dick Ebersol and Vince McMahon called a joint press conference on March 31st 2000, to announce a 50-50 partnership with NBC as it’s broadcast machine. NBC was contracted to pay the XFL 50-million dollars per season.

From an innovation and broadcasting standpoint, this was a lethal combination. The XFL and NBC, through the vision of Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol, changed the way football was broadcasted forever. From the overhead “X Cam”, to the on field “Bubba Cam”, to the on-field audio access of players and coaches. Dick Ebersol and Vince McMahon revolutionized the game. Unfortunately, while the presentation was way ahead of its time. The actual football was way behind. Everyone knows how the story ended for the original XFL.

While the original XFL started off great, selling millions of tickets, and drawing astronomical ratings that actually beat the World Series that year, the league fumbled the ball on the football side of things. By the end of season one, the league had become an afterthought and laughing stock in the sports and television industry. Vince McMahon still wanted to forge on to year two. NBC didn’t. The hardest decision, Dick Ebersol ever had to make was to sever ties with what was a failing operation. He needed to convince McMahon not to fight it.

Vince McMahon was left holding the bag. He could have very easily held NBC’s feet to the fire. NBC was morally and legally obligated to honor their contract with the XFL. They owed the league 50 million dollars for year two. If Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol were just merely business partners, things could have gotten real ugly. McMahon could have and would have won any legal battles for what NBC owed him and his league.

To be fair, Ebersol and NBC weren’t alone in trying to end the XFL. The league’s top advertisers had bailed, and their other broadcasting partners like UPN/TNN, were hedging their bets and trying to leverage the XFL’s failings towards creating a stronger foothold on McMahon’s WWE. A singular grand vision that Vince McMahon planned to start and operate on his own, had been taken down by his broadcast marriages. McMahon reluctantly and begrudgingly waved the white flag.

Nearly 17 years after all of this, Vince McMahon decided that he was going to try it again, but this time. He would do it alone. No more 50-50 partners. He would be investing his own money, like Ebersol suggested, to the tune of half a billion dollars. It could be argued that this was an even bolder decision than the original XFL. McMahon was rebooting something that failed on a grand scale. The norm in entertainment is to reboot successful entities. Couple that with the fact that since May of 2001, other leagues had also come and gone, facing the same demise. Even the almighty NFL’s Europe league had died despite great financial backing. Other pro league hopefuls either failed to launch, or couldn’t survive like the United Football League.

McMahon was bringing back the XFL to a market place that had been deemed a dead zone. Why would anyone make another attempt at starting a pro football league? No one could have predicted that two months after McMahon’s January 25th relaunch announcement, that yet another spring pro football league would launch. The kicker? It was being founded by Dick Ebersol’s son Charlie. The league would be potentially going head to head with the XFL, with Dick’s son Charlie deciding to jump ahead and launch earlier than McMahon.

The XFL’s rise and fall had been documented by Charlie Ebersol, he often times would argue in defense of the league and would discuss how things could have worked, if handled differently. His admiration and the relationship between his father and Vince McMahon was a strong aspect of the 30 for 30 special. Many would argue and speculate that the XFL was reborn as a result of this special, but the special would also give birth to Charlie’s “Alliance of American Football.” A strange dynamic where Dick Ebersol would be a low-key advisor behind the scenes for his son’s league, that is now a direct competitor with Vince McMahon.

In two weeks, Charlie Ebersol is launching an 8-team spring pro-football league, with the help of NFL Hall of Fame Executive Bill Polian. The league like the original XFL, has been rushing into the market place. Giving themselves less than a year to launch. Despite taking a non-adversarial approach to the NFL, and suggesting that they could become a minor league for them. The AAF has taken a similar path to the original XFL. The league is finishing up a month-long joint training camp in San Antonio. One of the biggest failings of the original XFL, was how the quality of play suffered from teams having only 30 days to gel.

The AAF had a league wide QB draft in late November with designated quarterbacks switching teams just 2 months before game time. On their journey to opening, the league has lost a head coach in Brad Childress, three offensive coordinators in Jon Kitna, Hal Mumme and Hugh Freeze, and Birmingham assistant RB coach Cadillac Williams. Not a great start on the journey to providing quality football right out the gate. Like the original XFL, making a first impression will be key. Is Charlie’s league following the same exact flawed path that his father and Vince did?

The Alliance has some good business relationships. By comparison to the original XFL-NBC deal, the AAF has a scaled down network deal with CBS that sees just two of their games broadcast on network television. With all the other games on cable TV. Still a good deal for an upstart league. 2019 can provide so many more opportunities than 2001 did for an upstart league. From technology to gambling to fantasy football. As of this article, the AAF hasn’t launched any apps tied in to any of these aspects. The league website has not updated team or player bios but there is still time. There figures to be more promotion with the upcoming Superbowl on CBS, AAF’s current broadcast partner, with NFL Network rumored to be next on deck.

Both the AAF and XFL have stated that they are not direct competitors with the NFL, and that they’re just trying to present quality football for fans, when the college and NFL seasons have ended. Vince McMahon, learning through his mistakes of rushing into the league the first time, had decided to take a “slow and steady wins the race” approach, not launching until February of 2020. That strategy left the door open for someone to cut in front of him on the line. Little did he know that it would be his most trusted business partner’s son. Since Vince’s XFL relaunch announcement, leagues are coming out of the wood work and thin air to announce potential launches. The crazy idea of launching another pro football league is not so crazy anymore. Even Ricky Williams has emerged from a cloud of smoke to announce his own league.

The relationship between Dick Ebersol and Vince McMahon has led many to speculate, as to whether there could be yet another alliance between the Ebersols and McMahons. Despite Bill Polian’s desired goal of being a developmental league for the NFL, could the XFL and AAF eventually become partners in a joint league? Similar to the days of the 1960’s AFL/NFL merger. Supporting this theory is the fact that both leagues are in 16 different markets, with the AAF concentrated towards one side of the map, while the XFL is positioned strongly in big markets and on the east coast. The leagues aren’t competing with each other in the same markets. However, when it comes to players and coaches, the two leagues will end up competing directly with one another during the course of this year. The structure of the AAF’s 3-year contract is designed to directly prevent any of their players from playing in the XFL. Vince McMahon’s league will not have similar 3-year deals but they are offering their players more money to play in their league.

The pipe dream of a merger or joint partnership between the XFL and AAF remains a long shot, but it will exist until one or both leagues fold. The two leagues have to get to years two and three before any of these dreams can become a reality. In the meantime, the XFL is set to announce their own broadcast rights package in the coming week. They will be sitting on the sidelines, watching the AAF launch a week after the Superbowl. Will the AAF’s success or failure benefit the XFL?. There are arguments for either side. Regardless of what happens, the XFL is moving towards their 2020 launch. Where presumably, both leagues will be competing directly for attention in February of next year. Until then, Charlie Ebersol and the AAF has the game all to themselves.

As the original old saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Both the XFL and AAF are trying to learn from the mistakes of the original XFL’s past. The Ebersols and McMahon have a shared past, and now a shared future, but they are on opposite sides of the war…. for now.

Jeffrey Pollack Named XFL President COO

Sports industry veteran Jeffrey Pollack has been named President & Chief Operating Officer of the XFL

Stamford, Conn., January 22, 2019 – The XFL today announced that sports industry veteran Jeffrey Pollack has been named President & Chief Operating Officer and will oversee the league’s strategic planning and business operations, as well as the management of its eight teams.

“Just as Oliver Luck is perfectly suited to be Commissioner & CEO, so too is Jeffrey Pollack suited perfectly to be XFL President & COO with his extraordinary experience and diverse background across a variety of global sports properties,” said Vince McMahon, XFL Founder & Chairman. “I have no doubt that Oliver and Jeffrey will successfully reimagine the game of football and guide the XFL to long-term success.”

“It’s not often that a new professional sports league is positioned for success like the XFL,” said Pollack. “There’s a clear vision for what we will offer our fans, players and partners, and I look forward to working closely with Vince and Oliver to bring that vision to life.”

Pollack comes to the XFL from the Los Angeles Chargers, where he was Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer and Special Advisor.

With a 25-year track record, Pollack began his career in sports in 1994 when, as the founding President and Publisher, he created and launched The Sports Business Daily. He then joined the National Basketball Association in 1998 as a Strategic Communications Consultant and also served as the league’s Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications. In 2001, he was named Managing Director of Broadcasting and New Media for NASCAR Digital Entertainment.

From 2005 to 2009, Pollack served as Commissioner of the World Series of Poker and Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Marketing for Caesars Entertainment. He has also served as Executive Chairman of the Professional Bull Riders and Executive Chairman of Federated Sports and Gaming.

Pollack has a Bachelor’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, a Master’s degree from The Graduate School of Political Management, and a Master’s degree in sports management from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

About The XFL

The XFL will reimagine football for the 21st century when it kicks off the weekend of February 8-9, 2020. The new league is committed to delivering a fan-centric, innovative experience, including fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment, complemented by cross-platform viewing options and real-time fan engagement.

Football is America’s favorite sport boasting over 85 million fans, but the traditional season is just too short. Seeing a tremendous opportunity to fill the void, Vince McMahon, XFL Founder and Chairman announced on January 25, 2018, the launch of a new league, which he is personally funding. McMahon is building the XFL with the same commitment and resolve that he has demonstrated building WWE into a global media and sports entertainment powerhouse.

Delivering authentic, high energy football for the whole family at an affordable price, the XFL will offer fast-paced games with fewer play stoppages and simpler rules. The league will launch with eight teams, 45-man active rosters, and a 10-week regular season schedule, with a postseason consisting of two semifinal playoff games and a championship game. The XFL will also establish a health, wellness and safety program that meets the needs of today’s athletes.

The XFL will embrace the latest on and off-field technology, providing live game coverage, content and real-time engagement across multiple platforms, giving fans greater access than ever before. The XFL is committed to building grassroots relationships with local organizations in its host cities through social responsibility partnerships, and the XFL will enjoy the support of WWE’s many extraordinary resources and promotional capabilities.

The XFL will launch next year in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington D.C.

For more information, visit XFL.com and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

One Last Look Back at the Original XFL

As XFL Representatives scout the future of pro football and their league, at this past weekend’s College All-Star games. I found myself thinking about the past and how surreal this whole XFL return thing really is. I keep having 2001 flashbacks.

Let’s jump back into Doc’s DeLorean one last time. The world was so different in 2001. Specifically, the online universe. Back then, if you were a fan, you only had chat rooms and message boards. There was no real coverage by sports media outlets. So, all the fans had was the league website, some newspaper articles, and some fan sites.

Sites like XFLBoard.com provided fans the opportunity to follow, interact and write about the league. No podcasts or internet shows. There weren’t even any weekly radio talk shows back then. The WWF at the time, was heading into the sports world and there was no real coverage of the league by the mainstream sports media. A sports franchise headed by a wrestling company didn’t really help create the impression of legitimacy. Alternative football leagues have a hard time, as it is, getting coverage by the mainstream media to begin with. Let alone a wrestling company. Any coverage of the original XFL was done so in a mocking fashion. After the first couple of weeks of the season, it was almost impossible finding any weekly highlights on ESPN or any serious recaps or analysis of the teams, players, or games on any sports media outlet.

An example of this was week one in the original XFL. As a sports fan for over three decades, I would be hard pressed to recall a more electrifying atmosphere for a season opener than the one that took place between LA and San Fran. When the San Francisco Demons defeated The LA Xtreme in their home opener at Pac Bell Park. San Fran won the game 15-13 with the clock running out. The over 38,000 fans that packed the stadium, were as loud as any group of fans, for any game I’ve ever witnessed. For a first-time league with mostly unknown players, to get that type of immersive response out the gate was unreal. The game wasn’t pretty but it was intense. A great back and forth game with tremendous drama. The presentation clicked on all levels. Some of it was over the top, but you actually felt like you were on the field and in the stands. If the XFL had opened their league on NBC with this game, the first impression of the league may have been different than the one created by the sloppy and one-sided Outlaws-Hitmen opener on NBC.

The league and The Demons-Xtreme game actually made the front cover of Sports Illustrated at the time. A great honor except that the XFL was blistered on the cover and inside the magazine. The headline read “Cheap Thrills”…. With the underneath caption reading “Will sleazy gimmicks and low-rent football work for the XFL?”…… It didn’t get much better inside the magazine. The drama, innovation and fun attached to the Demons-Xtreme game was mostly overlooked.

To be fair, some of the negative sentiment towards the XFL was warranted. The league puffed out it’s chest about being the big bad wolf and then got treated as such by the mainstream sports media. Nearly two decades ago, I actually got a chance to sort of become a part of that media, thanks to this very website, when I covered the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. Who knew back in 2001, that writing for a website that covered the league could get you access to games and a press pass to interview players and coaches?

Here I was barely in my 20’s, stepping inside a press box for the very first time, at what was then known as Giants Stadium. It was Week 7 of the XFL Season. Despite being 2 and 4, The Hitmen were still in contention for a playoff spot with 4 weeks to go in the regular season. The 3 and 3 Memphis Maniax were also involved in a playoff chase of their own in the western division. I was so excited and fully invested in the season. Despite the fact that the interest in the league was dying down even amongst its biggest supporters. I had been to every Hitmen home game and sat in the stands with the rest of my fellow tri-state football fans. The league may have been on its last legs heading towards it’s impending death but I was so caught up in the moment, that i wasn’t looking at the league as a gloom and doom operation.

With an XFL press credential in hand, I rode up the elevator into the press level at Giants Stadium. I had never experienced a game from this prospective. After proudly showing my press pass to a member of security, I headed into the press box. There was a decent number of local sporting press there. As is the custom, there is no cheering allowed in the press box. Hindsight being 20/20, I probably should have, but didn’t expect the lack of interest or enthusiasm from the press on hand. The scribes that were on hand, took more interest in the catered buffet than they did the actual game. It was a really nice layout but i was more interested in taking in the experience and following the game than getting second helpings of baked ziti.

The one league related conversation that I had with a reporter was how he had information on how the Chicago Enforcers were going to relocate to Milwaukee because of Soldier Field renovation later in the year. It turned out to be true. League reps were looking into different locations, had there been a second season. This reporter didn’t see year two even happening and had no real interest in this game or the XFL itself. I found out on this evening, first hand how unimportant and insignificant the XFL was to the local media.

The interest for me at that moment, while watching the field through a massive glass encasement in the press box was the actual game. The Hitmen had yet to win a home game. Despite that, NY/NJ could remarkably put their playoff hopes into their own hands by winning. The paid attendance for the game was 22,000 but the live attendance was only 15,781. The weather was bad but the crowd on hand was great. They were rewarded with a great last second victory, that saw the Hitmen score a touchdown late to win the game 16-15. The Memphis Maniax, despite having an up and down season, that eventually saw them finish at 5 and 5, came into this game with the league’s #1 ranked offense. They were kind of a Jekyll and Hyde type team. They would get off to great starts and then falter late in games. This would be the ammo, I needed when entering the team’s locker rooms after the game. I was so wrapped up in the league that when Birmingham lost to The Outlaws in the other Saturday night XFL game. I knew how that loss opened the door for the Hitmen to control their playoff destiny if they won out. A heartbreaking home loss to Chicago would eventually derail the teams hopes of making the playoffs by seasons end.

When the game ended, I headed to the team’s locker rooms. It was just me and a couple of other writers. They were looking to get it over with fast and for some quick sound bytes. I was looking for real reactions. The Hitmen were in good spirits after the game. When I informed New York Defensive Lineman Israel Raybon that the Bolts had lost. He enthusiastically responded, “We have it all in our hands now.”

When I headed into the visitor’s locker room. I knew that the other writers weren’t going to ask anything substantial. Here I was a 20 something year old kid, who was lucky to even have this type of access, getting ready to grill a seasoned and well-respected pro football veteran in Maniax Head Coach Kippy Brown. I was going to ask him why his teams had a tendency of collapsing late in games. In this particular game, Memphis led 15-3 before blowing the lead and losing. I had read in the buildup of the game, how Memphis players were talking about how hard Kippy was working them in practice. So, I attributed their late game collapses to it. It was probably not the greatest angle to take but at the time, it seemed plausible. Looking back, I was probably reaching a bit.

This is what I wrote on this very website back in 2001, of my exchange with Kippy Brown after the game. When asked if conditioning was a factor in his teams second half breakdowns, Brown took a defensive approach and stated, “These players aren’t working hard enough, ask them if they lost because they worked too much.” Boy, was Kippy Brown mad when I suggested his practices in pads may have been a reason for his team’s second half collapses.

Regardless, whether my analysis or questioning was off base or not, I was told by the players and coaches on that night, that they appreciated that a member of the “media” was taking their league and games seriously. Most of the players and football personnel that were involved in the original league were treated, as if what they were doing didn’t matter or wasn’t important. The old XFL is gone forever. While most see Version 1.0 as a failure, there are so many fans who see it differently, myself included.

With news coming out this week, that the XFL plans to unveil their television rights/digital streaming package in the next few weeks. Probably during Superbowl week. The league will be officially starting a new chapter. There are so many more ways for a product to get exposure in 2019, then there was back in 2001. It’s a vastly different media world. The league figures to be much different this go around. The coverage and treatment of it might still end up being the same, but it will be more accessible for fans to follow the league this time. No press pass needed.