Fans of the XFL can rejoice in the league returning, but the big question is what now?
Two of the three new owners, Dany Garcia and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson took to social media to announce the rebirth of the XFL.
For fans, it’s the third chapter to an evolving story. The XFL began in 2001 to mixed reviews that resulted in the league folding after one season. Vince McMahon brought his league back from the dead in 2018 for a season in 2020. While the 2020 XFL received positive reviews and solid ratings, COVID-19 put an end to the season after five games.
Dany Garcia, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Gerry Cardinale of RedBird Capital purchased the league officially Friday. Joy and happiness fills the hearts of XFL and football fans for the day, but the real work begins. The question comes, “What’s first?”
Timeline of Events for the XFL in the Future
Hiring a Commissioner
Fans know the great work that Oliver Luck did for the XFL. Luck was instrumental in building the foundation for the league and hiring the right people to get the league started. He became the face of the league and a powerful voice that commanded the respect from the football community.
While it is unknown whether Luck will return to the XFL, the league must find someone to fill that void. No names have been produced as to who would replace Luck. It’s the biggest unknown of the XFL rebirth, but it’s a move that needs to be made.
The next commissioner must live up to Luck’s expectations. They must have ties to the football or sports community. Their name must be well known for building sports leagues up from the ground up. The blueprint was already made by Luck and McMahon. Now it must be executed in a shorter amount of time than last year.
Hiring New & Old Coaches and Staff Members
The league will need to do a lot of hiring if they want to make the proposed February 2021 deadline for the season. XFL NewsHub’s Jai Nokes reported Friday that multiple former XFL staff members have reached out regarding returning to the league.
While this shouldn’t be too surprising for fans, it was expected and should be encouraging news. The league will have plenty of roles to fill and having former employees reach out is a good start. Key roles such as team presidents and head coaches will need to be near the top of their list.
Seven out of the eight head coaches are available to be hired back on. The DC Defenders won’t have team president Erik Moses and head coach Pep Hamilton back as both have been hired elsewhere since. With most of the team presidents and head coaches still on the market, it could be an easy, smooth transition for the XFL.
The league will also have to hire on new people. One prominent name they could bring in is former college/NFL head coach Steve Spurrier. He’s seen prior success winning titles with Florida in college and led the Orlando Apollos of the AAF to a league best 7-1 before the league folded. It was reported back in May that Spurrier was open to coaching in the XFL.
Deciding of Potential February 2021 Season
During the bankruptcy process, Jeffrey Pollack and the rest of the league proposed a bubble television event concept that could see the XFL on the field for 2021. It would include playing in one city for a 12-week tournament starting a week after the Super Bowl and ending in late April. The concept seemed to attract the likes of Garcia, Johnson, and Cardinale.
Garcia told ESPN that the plan as of the beginning of August is to play in February of 2021. A decision will have to be made in the next month or two so that they can start making plans. They will have to find a venue and a hub city to host at least eight teams for the season.
Of course, everything depends on COVID-19 and how bad the spread of the virus is during February next year. The league would benefit from a bubble from a financial and planning standpoint. Playing one season in the bubble gives the league a good foundation for the rebirth and success for the future.
Signing Players/Drafting New Players
Last October, the XFL hosted a two-day XFL Draft consisting of five phases. They were divided up into offensive skill players, offensive linemen, defensive front seven players, defensive backs, and an open draft pool. This was the foundation of building XFL rosters from the ground up.
The league will have to do the same in a different way. One difference is the league has players already on teams and can assign them back onto those teams to make it easy on them. There’s been under 50 players that have signed with NFL teams with some already being cut. The XFL should be able to convince players to play under Johnson in the rebooted league.
CFL players can opt-out of their contracts starting Monday to join other football leagues. The player pool will be wide open for the XFL to include those players in their draft. College players have been opting out of the fall season which leaves the door open for more additions to teams.
The bad news for the XFL is that they have six months until the league plans on playing their 2021 season. They need to work fast to get the league up and running . The good news is Garcia, Johnson, and Cardinale are smart business people who have made billions off their businesses. Fans should look forward to seeing an even better product on the field than what they saw in 2020.
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