The brilliant Bob Costas once said: “It has to be at least a decade since I first mused out loud, ‘Why doesn’t somebody combine mediocre high school football with a tawdry strip club?’ Finally, somebody takes my idea and runs with it.”
In 2000 Vince McMahon of WWE fame announced he was going to be starting his own football league, the XFL. The XFL itself was a mutual partnership between NBC and the WWF (today’sWWE) with each party owning a fifty percent stake in the joint venture. On February 3rd, 2001, the first game was televised on NBC and its inaugural broadcast delivered greater than expected and promised to advertisers. However, the ratings bonanza was short-lived in the XFL only lasted one season due to poor ratings and attendance. It was truly a shame. The league was full of new unique ideas, such as doing away with PATs completely and “tossing” the coin flip in favor of a one on one player scrum for possession at midfield. Broadcasts featured over the top announcers, scantily clad women and unfortunately somewhat lackluster football abilities from its eight original teams.
The original XFL was composed of two divisions, Eastern& Western. Not originally named you say? Would you prefer Leaders & Legends the much-mocked original names for the Big Ten’s divisions? Sometimes I suppose it’s best not to reinvent the wheel. The Eastern Division consisted of the Birmingham Thunderbolts, Chicago Enforces, New York/New Jersey Hitmen and the Orlando Rage. The Western division included the Las Vegas Outlaws, Los Angles Xtreme, Memphis Maniax and the San Francisco Demons. The first and only championship dubbed The Million Dollar Game was between two western division rivals the Los Angeles Xtreme & the San Francisco Demons. LA easily won by a final score of 38-6.
With all that being said, THE XFL IS BACK BABY! Today in New Jersey at Metlife Stadium, the newly reformed XFL held a press conference to officially announce the eight cities that will have teams and where their home venues will be held. Commissioner Oliver Luck announced team names, colors & logos will be revealed in the coming months. The press conference was kicked off a little after 12:00pm and concluded at approximately 12:45pm and I loved every second of it. The governor of New Jersey, Phil Murhpy kicked off the event being held in the garden state. He then introduced Vince McMahon who spoke briefly abou this vision for the league and then turned the stage over to Luck who served as master of ceremonies.
Luck painted a picture of what they have in store for the league. It seems to be a well thought out vision rather than an elevator pitch of a league that existed in 2001. They are taking a much longer time to develop the league and perform market research. The XFL’s football operations team is working with the Junior College Athletic association who is conducting R&D sessions to test out new rules. A league in Texas will also be assisting with this process. The XFL has also assembled a football reimagined committee consisting of Doug Flutie, Donovan McNabb, Jim Caldwell as well as technology leaders and many others to develop a football product that strives to go by the motto, less stall; more ball.
Luck emphasized they want crisp, face paced football with games lasting less than three hours. They want to change rules around punting, kicking, play clock and limit stoppages and interruptions. Luck wants to make sure the games have more rhythm and flow. If you’ve been to an NFL game in the past ten years you’d understand this problem. To many times I’ve been in an NFL stadium waiting for the play to resume after a kickoff while players just stand around, digging and scratching themselves. All eight teams will have the same budget and coaches will also act as the general manager for the team. They also emphasized they will be testing for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
During the press conference, the XFL revealed they had thirty cities formally express interest in hosting a team. Luck advised they wanted to make sure during the vetting process that they selected cities that want to have a partnership with and are invested in making sure they do their best to succeed. Here are the eight cities and home stadiums:
- New York, MetLife Stadium
- Dallas, Globe Life Park, Arlington
- Houston, TDECU Stadium
- Los Angeles, Stubhub Center
- Saint Louis, The Dome at America’s Center
- Seattle, Centurylink Field
- Tampa Bay, Raymond James Stadium
- Washington DC, Audi Field
Of the eight cities, only two were a part of the original XFL. It will be exciting to see if these stadiums can sell out. These eight cities account for nearly 25 percent of the nation’s population. It will truly be exciting to see pro football make its return to Saint Louis, a city that gets behind it’s sports teams. Now that the cities have been revealed, you can make a deposit on season tickets, here.
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