XFL Mailbag #3 – XFL going international, open tryouts, “He Hate Me” trademark and more!
XFL Mailbag is back with all-new reader questions.
XFL Mailbag is back with all-new reader questions. To send a question to be answered in future editions, about ANY version of the XFL, e-mail XFLMailbag@gmail.com (questions are edited for length and clarity).
Last month’s mailbag questions and answers can be read here.
James asks: “I saw an article where a Syracuse University student was campaigning to get a team located in Syracuse, New York. It’s definitely a long shot, but any chance this could happen?”
Syracuse is the 85th Designated Market Area by size according to Nielsen Media Research. For perspective, the lowest ranked of the original eight XFL 2.0 teams is St. Louis at 21st. It would take a change in philosophy by the new owners about where to put teams for a city like Syracuse to be on their radar. Syracuse could be attractive as a test case for putting pro football teams in college cities to see if university students would support the team.
Playing at the Carrier Dome on the campus of the University of Syracuse would help that cause. But the XFL’s season would take place in the middle of college basketball season. It could also interfere with the Orange’s spring football practices. The only other arena in the city of any size is the Upstate Medical University Arena, but its capacity is under 10,000, which would not suit the league. So logistically it would be difficult, but the larger idea of playing games on college campuses to attract a younger, more enthusiastic crowd, is one worth putting on the table.
Anthony asks: “I wanted to reach out and see if there was any talk of potential open player tryouts this Spring/Summer for the upcoming 2022 XFL season?”
Though no official announcement has been made, I wouldn’t expect open tryouts to take place for XFL 2022. The only thing that gives me pause about that is Dwayne Johnson’s stated desire for the XFL to be a place where players can chase their dreams, and for Dany Garcia’s aspiration for the league to provide programming beyond just airing football games. Johnson and Garcia would love for someone to come out of nowhere to make a name for themselves in the league for those reasons.
But realistically, the XFL wants to be the number two football league behind the NFL. We saw last year with the league’s Summer Showcases that there are enough accomplished free agents willing to play in a secondary league to make tryouts invitation-only; that is, the credibility and quality of play would be highest if the new owners followed a similar player acquisition blueprint as the previous owner.
Eydie asks: “I love the XFL but also other alternative leagues…[Could the CFL] merge with the XFL or do a CFL/XFL Super Bowl? Also, what about the Fan Controlled Football League and the MLFB and MLF that are trying to get started? Do they have money? Do you think any of them will actually happen? Are there any other leagues you know about that could actually play games?”
The CFL needed to borrow cash from the Canadian government in order to play in 2021, and there’s still no guarantee they’ll actually get on the field. The XFL isn’t well-established enough or flush with enough cash to subsidize both itself and another football league. So it’s a “no” on the merger for now, especially because of the different rules with which the leagues play. A CFL/XFL “Super Bowl” would be more likely but again, which league’s rules would you play with in that hypothetical game? There are many other knots that would have to be untangled to make that happen.
The Fan Controlled Football League is playing now on Twitch (Twitch.TV/FCF) and you can follow the league on Twitter @fcflio for information about dates and times of games. As of three months ago Major League Football was scheduled to kick off in the spring of this year. The league’s budget is set at $30 million and they are a publicly traded organization (MLFB is the stock symbol if you’re looking to invest).
Then there is another Major League Football (MLF) whose website claims it will begin play in the fall of 2021. Based on the history of secondary football leagues, it’s appropriate to look upon these leagues with skepticism. Posters in the XFL Board forums are keeping a keen eye on some of the other secondary football leagues while we await XFL news, if you’d like to join in the conversation there: XFL Board Discussion Forums.
Zach asks: “I have a question regarding the ‘He Hate Me’ trademark. Is this a new trademark application for a clothing line or is this status quo for this mark when they applied for it in 2016? There seems to be some confusion on this, and clarification on it would be appreciated. I understand that the XFL already had applied for it back in 2016, but this time it has been implied that this will be an actual clothing line.”
The confusion began when Josh Gerben, the founder of a trademark law firm, Tweeted out the news of the He Hate Me trademark application by the XFL on February 16th. That was followed by a Sportico article the next day on the topic.
However, XFL Board editor Mark Nelson spoke to a league source who refuted the above reports, noting it was just the league renewing the trademark and there were, in fact, no plans to establish a He Hate Me clothing line. This goes to show it’s not just XFL fans who are desperate for any kind of XFL news to drop.
James asks: “I’ve been wondering about this for two years. Seeing as the XFL has a history of innovation and doing what the NFL only ever talks about doing, what are the chances of the XFL bringing a team to a city like Toronto, Canada and beating the NFL to the international market? In my opinion, this would be another great location, untouched by the NFL with a history of football fandom.”
A twist on the expansion question! The NFL has made no secret of wanting a team in London, England to expand their global market share, but they haven’t quite found a way to do it beyond making the Jacksonville Jaguars London’s surrogate. Expanding into Canada would make more logistical and financial sense for both the NFL and XFL, but there’s a reason the NFL hasn’t done it, and it’s because of the CFL.
I’m not sure it’s worth making the CFL an unnecessary adversary by invading their turf, not to mention there’s no guarantee the fans support American football – they could see it as a CFL vs. XFL battle and the CFL would likely win out in that case. A place like Mexico City might make more sense. The NFL was planning on playing games there in 2020 and 2021 prior to the pandemic. They obviously see a fertile marketplace in Mexico, something that may be easier for the XFL to embrace as a centrally-owned outfit as opposed to the NFL either moving a team there or creating a new expansion team for that city. It would be a feather in the XFL’s cap if they were able to crack the international expansion code before the NFL.