5 Ways the XFL is better than its first go-round
The NFL season is winding down for most teams, but football won’t end just yet because the XFL, a reimagined-start-up football league, will be making its second debut (more on this below) just six days after the Super Bowl. What is interesting is that last year there was a similar attempted start-up football league known as Alliance of American Football (AAF). Unfortunately, it abruptly folded before concluding a full season; while some may find the AAF’s fate to be damning for the XFL’s future, I will reason in saying that XFL 2.0 has a leg up on the AAF and even its first version (XFL 1.0) in the following five key areas:
1. Pay Structure
Starting Dec. 4th 2019, players will earn a base salary will be $1,040 per week and continue until May 31st, 2020 totaling $27,040. However, there will be performance bonuses: $1,685 per game for active roster and $2,222 for every regular season game won. This means that if a player were to be on active roster for every game and if their team was to sweep 10-0, their total compensation earnable would be $66,112. It is important to note, that nothing has been released regarding extra pay for Playoffs and the Championship game. The original XFL had a championship victory bonus of $1,000,000 awarded to the winning team which was then divided evenly among all the players. It will be interesting to see what McMahon and Luck decide to do regarding the Championship.
Why is the Pay Structure a positive for the league? Some may claim that the base pay structure of $27,040 came as a shock to some and even deterred a couple players from entering the league. My answer is that these numbers were reached to best support sustainability for the league. Likewise, from a business stand point, it is a wise move because it is better to start from a realistic, attainable figure rather than lavishly spend on salaries. Do not misunderstand me, I am all for players being compensated appropriately, but players must understand that the XFL should first be seen as a way to get valuable live reps and game film.
2. Deliberate Timeline
The XFL announced their comeback about two years ago and has been deliberately planning, organizing, and marketing their product ever since. While the AAF only had one year to scramble for structure, the XFL’s longer timeline for development has allowed more time for coach hiring, more time to choose cities for teams, more time to book stadium usage, more time to recruit and try-out players, more time to create social media hype among the fans and, last but not least, more time to design striking uniforms.
3. Training Time
The AAF only had a 3 day Mini Camp. On the other hand, the XFL’s eight teams have their players for two and a half weeks for Mini Camp (Dec. 4-19) & three weeks for Training Camp (Jan. 4-21). Essentially, this enables teams to build important dynamics among players, coaches and other staff members. Lastly, this gives each team a longer period to practice strategy and solidify play formations.
4. TV Schedule
The AAF had a limited amount of network televised games. Much of their season was only available on various secondary networks and live-stream options, and this limited their viewership. The XFL has multiple TV contracts in place (ABC, FOX and ESPN) enabling more coverage and allowing fans to watch every game instead of needing to switch channel during one game. This gives each team face-off a sole focus and thus more attention.
5. Rule Changes
The XFL will be similar to all other forms of American Football with a few curious, yet exciting rule changes. Yes, Vince McMahon was not kidding when he said the XFL will be “reimagined football” so here are a few rules we can expect to see on the field:
The 25 second play clock.
For players this means more preseason conditioning as there will be less time to catch one’s breath in between plays.
For the fans, this means “more ball, less stall” as in keep your eyes on the field or TV and think twice about staying line for those ultimate nachos because you very well could miss an ultimate touch down.
The 1, 2 or 3 point scoring option after a touchdown.
This will replace what we know as “the extra point kick”. Besides adding more excitement, this rule will create a sense of hope for the trailing team as they can make up a lot of ground if they choose to go for the 3 point option. For the leading team, it will be imperative to never let up or become too comfortable with a lead because as I mentioned, one can catch up quickly with this new rule.
The “Overtime Shootout”
If a tie is to occur, there will be an “overtime shootout”, where each team’s offense will line up at their opponent’s 5 yard line and have 5 attempts to score. This will add a real twist to the game as it will add that soccer penalty kick or hockey shootout vibe!
For those into trivia, the first XFL had what they called “The Scramble”, a two man face off in lieu of a coin toss. That being said, due to injuries within the first few seconds of the game, the XFL 2.0 will not be incorporating this rule. Perhaps, at the last minute, they will surprise us with a new rule: “The Sunny Side Up” – just kidding.
In all seriousness, Vince McMahon (Owner) and Oliver Luck (Commissioner) have made it clear that the XFL will be focused on delivering real football and maintaining the integrity of the game that we all love. February 8th, 2020 cannot come soon enough.
The XFL Chick