This past weekend saw many football players’ dreams of playing in the NFL dash on cut day. Between Friday and Saturday, 23 XFL players were cut from NFL teams. As of the print time, four XFL players were on active rosters and 13 XFL players are on practice squads.
It’s not ideal to play on the practice squad, but it’s a foot in the door for football players. They get to play in the NFL and get a steady paycheck each week in the process. The dream to play in an NFL game lives on the practice squad, but is it really what players truly want?
Money will always separate the NFL practice squad from the XFL, but there are so many benefits to the XFL that the NFL practice squad can’t provide.
Benefits of XFL Over NFL Practice Squad
Playing Right Away
One of the difficult aspects of being on the practice squad is not being able to travel with the team or play with the team. Players on practice squad don’t get the same opportunities as active roster players do.
Those who pick the XFL instead will get a chance to play and even start. The XFL was designed to give players a fair opportunity to play. Players in the NFL won’t get that same opportunity as stars play and other sit.
No players will get overlooked in the XFL. It’s their chance to take center stage and prove their skills on the field. Jordan Ta’amu and P.J. Walker were overlooked by NFL teams and now they are members of the NFL because of the XFL.
Better Development System
College football has been the unofficial development system for the NFL. The league likes this system because they don’t have to pay the NCAA and they get the top young talent to their league. Most of the time though, those college players are not ready to play.
This is where the XFL comes into the picture. Looking at a player like St. Louis BattleHawks safety Kenny Robinson who came from college and used the XFL as a way to get scouted by NFL teams. That resulted in the young man getting drafted in the fifth-round to the Carolina Panthers.
Young players who need more development could use a league like the XFL to get better. Players get a chance to work with coaches like Bob Stoops and Jim Zorn who have coached at the highest levels of college or NFL. These are the type of coaches that will serve players better at being prepared for the NFL.
Someday, the XFL could be the farm system the NFL needs to get their players more prepared in year one. It sometimes takes rookies years to get into the flow of the NFL. The XFL could cut down on the ramp time by developing them the right way.
The practice squad would never give their players the television exposure outside of preseason play. They would never be on TV as they are home on weekends instead of being on the field. There are other alternatives to help with this.
The XFL was able to be broadcasted on ABC, ESPN, Fox, and FS1. Those are big time networks to be on considering it was a new league that was trying to gain an audience. The name XFL itself was enough to get some fans interested, but the national exposure to the quality of the play was the way to separate themselves from other leagues like the UFL and AAF.
NFL fans and scouts were watching the XFL on national television to see what hidden gems are on the field. If the XFL would have just been on cable channels, not as many would have watched the spectacular plays Walker was making every week. Players wouldn’t find that on a practice squad or even in the CFL.
There’s nothing wrong with being on an NFL practice squad. It’s a badge on honor for making it into the league. Players get steady pay each week and continue to workout in the process. It’s a chance to be a member of the NFL and play a part in winning games for their teams during the week. The pay is not bad as well for practice squad players.
But the one thing to think about is if players are competitive and want the proper exposure, the XFL is the way to go. It’s easy to get overlooked on an NFL team that has multiple stars. The XFL can make players stars and get them on the active roster quicker. Guys like Walker would have never made it into the NFL without the XFL. This is wrong.
For those players who are hungry to play and don’t care as much about the money, the XFL is the way to go. While the XFL has lost 17 players to the NFL, there are still plenty of hungry players ready to play in the XFL.
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