XFL announces 8 teams for 2020

Christopher Gibson, Courier Staff

After nearly two decades, the XFL is returning to the field this February. Owned by Vince McMahon, the XFL hasn’t played a game since 2001, their only season to date.

The XFL started out as a money grab. People wanted more football once the NFL’s season had finished. What was then the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) saw that want and realized what they could make off of it. In order to make that happen, however, they needed help and decided to team up with NBC both as a cosponsor and to broadcast their games.

This football league was going to be different, though. Keeping in line with the WWF’s style of rough-housing, the league was promoted as being rougher with less rules. The XFL also used some of the WWF’s personalities to help on-air commentaries. They tried everything they could to promote the league. It worked for the first week. Everyone in America was curious to see how this new league would play out.

Eventually, they were disappointed. The ratings for the XFL quickly dropped due to all of the distractions and gimmicks. It wasn’t long after the championship that the league decided to shut down operations. This was mainly due to NBC backing out of the league both on and off the air. It was also due to poorer play than fans were used to seeing when watching the NFL and college football.

However, McMahon, the man who dreamt up the XFL back in 2001, announced back in January of 2018 that the XFL would be returning. It would follow the same schedule as the original XFL, with play starting right after the NFL’s season concluded.

On Wednesday, the league announced the eight team names that will field the league. The names are pretty electric: Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, Seattle Dragons, Tampa Bay Vipers and the Washington Defenders. My favorite part about these teams is that the league really tried to mix up where the teams are located, and not just put teams in all the major cities across the country. There are some major cities on the list, but that’s to be expected. They also included some mid-major cities as well that could use another fan base both economically and socially, like St. Louis.

It does look like McMahon is taking the XFL more seriously this time around. When the XFL first came around, it was rushed and put together with silly gimmicks and charades in place to try and keep fans interested. This time, McMahon announced the revival of the league a couple years before relaunch. With that much time in between the announcement and relaunch, I hope that he really tried to delve into what he can do to make the league a success this time around and not another colossal failure like back in 2001.

One thing that the XFL will have going for it is its place in popular culture. Ever since the 30 for 30: This Was the XFL, people have been referencing it a lot more. It comes up often in sports podcasts, particularly Pardon My Take, for comedic effect. I think that while the revival attempt may ultimately fail, this new XFL will be a lot more successful than it was in 2001 due to the popular culture.

I’m interested to see how the XFL goes. The idea of another football league excites the football fan in me, but look at what happened with the AAF. The league didn’t even finish one whole season and the first attempt of the XFL barley made it through one season itself. Now, that might have also been due to the fast schedule that league executives decided to run on, but while fans want more football, there’s never going to be another NFL and I think that is how it should be marketed.

The return of the XFL should be advertised not as another professional football league that would be able to compete against the NFL, but as a mediocre league that players could go to get better and make the jump after a couple seasons. I think that it could potentially even turn into a sort of “minor league” system for the NFL.

While this isn’t what McMahon and the XFL would like to do, this would be a smart thing for the NFL to jump on and try and make happen. It would help teams develop talent and let that talent play, instead of just sitting on a bench for a couple seasons before they are either ready or a job has opened up for them.