XFL 2020: What You Need To Know
The XFL. A football league ran by madman, Vince McMahon. In 2001, it was a lawless, backyard league where anything goes. It was funded and ran by the WWF (now the WWE) and NBC. That was one of the major reasons for it’s downfall. America did not accept the games validity due to it’s ties with the WWF and it’s predetermined outcomes of matches. Another issue was the mediocre level of play. Without professional football players, the media mocked the XFL for putting on such a poor product. The well renowned sportscaster Bob Costas said “Why doesn’t somebody combine mediocre high school football with a tawdry strip joint? Finally, someone takes my idea and runs with it”. After the first season, NBC pulled it’s sponsorship. The league ceased operations after it’s inaugural season.
The XFL. A football league ran by madman Vince McMahon. In 2020, it is a league that has created a rule book that forces faster games, more action and less confusion. Three areas that the current NFL lacks in. The XFL is creating a league that preys on the weakness of the NFL to create a more exciting product. They have also brought in real talent to play the game. Former NFL players and coaches along with college stars that did not get a fair shot in the NFL have their second chance here in the XFL. ABC, NBC and ESPN have signed on as partners and the XFL is funded by Vince McMahon’s net worth of 2.6 billion dollars. Vince has also handed the football operations over to commissioner Oliver Luck, who can run the league from behind the curtain and ensure the league runs smoothly and fairly, while Vince can be who he is… a showman.
When you look at the differences between the 2001 VS. the 2020 launch, it seems like the 2020 XFL is set up for success. They have the money, networks, talent, leadership and rule book to have an exciting league. If you want my personal opinion, I cannot wait. The 2001 XFL was engulfed in WWF-like showmanship that football fans do not want to see. Football fans want a good game with real outcomes and real talent. I am not saying Vince should exile his WWF/WWE roots! If he can create the same kind of excitement and story lines in the XFL like he did in the WWF/WWE in a non-compromising way, he will have a slam dunk here.
I’ve mentioned the new rules a few times already and it is a very important part of this new 2020 XFL. They focused on the weaknesses of the NFL. What do current football watchers hate: slow play, constant interruptions from referees, poor officiating and an overall feeling of frustration. What did the XFL do to correct these issues for their league? Let me list some of the more important ones:
- Kicking. Just kicking in general. We will start with extra points. They are gone. No more kicking for an extra point. Now, the offense stays on the field after a touchdown and can go for 1 extra point from the 2 yard line, 2 extra points from the 5, and 3 extra points from the 10. How do you not see this as exciting? Extra points now are “He made it. Cool, he did his job.” or “He missed it. I hate him and my life”. No one cares about the extra point. With the XFL system, you can have a 9 point play! No lead is safe! Kickoffs are also changing drastically. First, the set up. The kickoff will be from the 30 yard line of the kicking team and the kicking team defenders will be lined up on the receiving teams 35. The return team will line up on their own 30 yard line and the returner will be near the goal line. Just envision that. 5 yards of separation between 20 players. I love it! The kicking team defenders cannot move until the returner catches the ball or the ball bounces around for 3 seconds (the “go” signal will come from the ref). The overall goal for the set up is player safety. They counter that with an incentive to catch and return the ball. If the ball comes up short of the 20 yard line, which I don’t see happening, the ball will come out to the 45. If the ball goes out of bounds or drops in the endzone, it comes out to the 35. If the ball hits in bounds then goes into the endzone, it comes out to the 15. This and the fact there are 10 guys not sprinting towards you from 60+ yards away makes the return more intriguing. The same goes for punting. The gunners cannot go downfield until the ball is kicked, giving the returner more time to catch, run and not be killed, which results in less fair catches. Also, if the ball is punted out of bounds or into the endzone, it comes out to the 35 (or gives better field position if it goes out of bounds further up field than the 35). It makes the punter put the ball in bounds and create action!
- Something that everyone has complained about since the NFL creation is overtime. If the first team scores a touchdown, it’s over. The other team does not even get a chance. That’s crazy stupid! The XFL has adopted a hybrid of college football and hockey, shootout style overtime. Each team gets the ball 5 times in a single possession shootout from the 5 yard line. If you score, you get 2 points. If you don’t score, you get nothing. Whichever team has more points after 5 possessions, wins. If it is still tied after 5 rounds, they will do 1 more round at a time until there is a winner. Simple, exciting, not time consuming. Love it.
- Cutting down the time it takes to play the game was obviously important when making these rules. Halftime is only 10 minutes long instead of 30 minutes. Easy 20 minutes shaved off your time to watch a game. The game and play clock are also changing. The game clock is always running outside of the 2 minute warning, which is now dubbed the “comeback period”. In this period, the game clock will stop on plays that end within the field of play until the ball is spotted. Plays that end out of bounds or on an incomplete pass, the game clock will stop until the ball is snapped. The play clock is now only 25 seconds that runs when the ball is spotted. Each team also only has 2 timeouts per half that last 1 minute. Coaches also cannot challenge plays. All challenges will come from a “eye in the sky” official. If it is something he feels needs to be reviewed, he will call it out and review. How long it will take to do this and if it is done properly, we will have to wait and see.
- Easily my favorite rule change is one foot inbound catches and a simplified catch rule. Catch the ball, any body part needs to touch the ground in bounds, maintain control long enough to enable him to preform a common football act. Done. Easy and simple. Should be no confusion. The NFL catch rule is full of language that does not need to be there. No one knows what a catch is int he NFL. The XFL is avoiding this by creating a simple rule.
Of course there are more rules, but those are the main ones that I believe really change the sport and the rules they created to attack the weaknesses of the NFL.
Unfortunately, it looks like they got the names and logos from a class of 5th graders and the base pictures they give you in a program like Microsoft Word. The question is, will the DC Defenders be allowed to play offense? WE NEED ANSWERS!
This is a part of the XFL a lot of people are concerned about. No, not the logos and names. The players on the teams. They did manage to get some high profile coaches and a few players you might be familiar with. Will the level of play be good enough to get out of the first year and play a second season? No one knows yet, but let’s take a look at the current teams, their coaches and most recognizable players:
- DC Defenders
- HC/GM: Pep Hamilton
- QB: Cardale Jones
- RB: Khalid Abdullah
- WR: Eli Rodgers
- Another name you might know: S Matt Elam who was a first round draft pick but due to injuries and maybe a limited knowledge of the game, his outstanding college play did not translate to the NFL. As a bonus, star Buffalo (college) QB Tyree Jackson is here.
- New York Guardians
- HC/GM: Kevin Gilbride
- QB: Matt McGloin
- RB: Matt Colburn
- WR: Mekale McKay
- Another name you might know: WR Joe Horn Jr. the son of Joe Horn who had a good NFL career with the Chiefs and Saints.
- Saint Louis BattleHawks
- HC/GM: Jonathan Hayes
- QB: Nick Fitzgerald
- RB: Keith Ford
- WR: Keith Mumphery
- Another name you might know: RB Christine Michael who played for the Seahawks but was beat out by running backs like Thomas Rawls and Chris Carson.
- Tampa Bay Vipers
- HC/GM: Marc Trestman
- QB: Taylor Cornelius
- RB: Mack Brown
- WR: Antonio Callaway (starting the season on IR though)
- Another name you might know: CB Jalen Collins, 2nd round draft pick by the Falcons who did play for two years but was suspended for substance abuse and didn’t make it back.
- Dallas Renegades
- HC/GM: Bob Stoops
- QB: Eric Dungey
- RB: Cameron Artis-Payne
- WR: Joshua Crockett
- Another name you might know: RB Lance Dunbar who had played well behind other Cowboys like DeMarco Murray and Julies Randle.
- Houston Roughnecks
- HC/GM: June Jones
- QB: Connor Cook
- RB: De’Angelo Henderson
- WR: Sammie Coates
- Another name you might know: LB Carl Bradford who had a very strong college career as a pass rusher, but couldn’t learn how to drop back into coverage in the NFL, which was his downfall.
- LA Wildcats
- HC/GM: Winston Moss
- QB: Josh Johnson
- RB: Elijah Hood
- WR: Saeed Blackmall
- Another name you might know: G Nico Siragusa was a star college guard who was projected as a top lineman to enter the NFL. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL before his season started with the Ravens and never got any traction.
- Seattle Dragons
- HC/GM: Jim Zorn
- QB: BJ Danials
- RB: Kenneth Farrow
- WR: Keenan Reynolds
- Another name you might know: WR Kasen Williams was a former Seahawk that was beaten out with all the depth on the roster. He played well in preseason games but didn’t make it to the regular season.
Wrap It Up!
I have no idea where you could find a better XFL breakdown! If you find it, don’t let me know about it because it will hurt my feelings. I try my hardest for you!
Overall, I cannot wait for the first game on February 8th between the Seattle Dragons and the DC Defenders. Hopefully it is as exciting live as it looks on paper. God speed Vince McMahon, you have one fan right here!
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