The long-awaited XFL team logo and nickname reveal was delivered to fans Monday morning. Gone are the days of coaches wearing generic XFL-branded gear, and thankfully so. While the overall vibe of the reveal was positive, it was not without the league committing what some saw as unforced errors.
At the designated time of 8am EST, XFL’s media channels sent out a five-minute video, hosted by ESPN’s Laura Rutledge (who also hosted the city reveal town hall event in July in Arlington), featuring short introductory vignettes of each team. All eight of the teams’ social media channels were awakened around that time as well.
Most of the XFL’s previous announcements have occurred later in the day. The 8am EST reveal was curious, especially on a Monday when most people are getting ready to go back to work and not necessarily checking social media. Fans in Seattle and Las Vegas were subject to a 5am PST start, basically shutting them out of the live announcement. Four other teams are located in the central time zone, meaning their followers were getting the announcement at 7am. There’s no clear reason why 8am EST was selected.
Perhaps the league wanted to put the information out early so that no matter what time fans got around to it, they could see the videos and reveals at their leisure. Perhaps with no live component, they figured the drop time was not important. But there’s also something to be said for creating anticipation for the reveal on that day. Imagine fans posting their hope and excitement on social media in the lead-up to the announcement, generating buzz for the league.
The actual logos, nicknames, and color schemes have been met with the expected mixed reviews. The nicknames were first reported a month ago based on XFLShop.com leaks, so fans have had time to get used to them. People tend to not like change, so the new, updated logos from 2020 have received a fair amount of criticism. Ultimately, everybody has different tastes when it comes to logos and nicknames and eventually, they’ll become second nature.
Those logos bring about the second issue with the reveal, that being what appears like a lack of communication between the league and its most important partner, ESPN. The initial ESPN.com story covering the nicknames and logos showed not only the team logos, but a secondary logo for each team that had not been a part of the XFL’s announcement. Soon after, the article was edited to remove those secondary logos.
In the same story, there are details about the upcoming XFL Draft that have not been officially released by the league. While that part of the story is still live, Mike Mitchell tweeted that he reached out to the XFL for comment and that they refused to confirm that reporting. In a subsequent interview with league officials, they confirmed the ESPN.com information was released prematurely.
It’s hard to believe these two could be on such different pages on such an important day for the XFL. There’s little doubt the draft information is true – it’s too specific not to be – but the XFL likes to control their narrative and announce information themselves. That it is still in the article several days after the fact also leads one to that conclusion.
However, it’s become a troubling trend for the XFL that they can’t make major announcements without stubbing their toe in some way, concerning even more given the lead-time they’ve had to prepare for these moments. Remember the unveiling of the new XFL logo? While that did make news, just as much if not more coverage was given to soccer star Megan Rapinoe’s threats of a lawsuit over the similarity between the new logo and the logo of her “TogethXr” company (a lawsuit was eventually filed, then dropped).
Or how about the announcement of league cities and venues, an announcement that was missing (and is still missing) the stadium for the Las Vegas team? Going back even further, there was the tease of a working agreement with the CFL, only for the XFL ownership to walk away from that with nothing except an announcement that the league would end up kicking off a year later than initially quoted?
Ultimately, none of these foibles will be remembered when the XFL begins play in three months and fans are cheering on their teams, analyzing quarterback controversies, and talking attendance and ratings. Casual fans, those who live in team cities and who will be activated by the league’s marketing over the next few months, may not even realize some of these controversies exist. Nevertheless, these situations will be used as fuel for doubters, while die-hards will dismiss them as minor annoyances, nothing more. As usual, the truth is likely somewhere in between.