American football, or just simply football, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with a goalpost on each end. The sport is played professionally in leagues, and there are three main pro football leagues in the US, NFL, XFL, and USFL. Let’s see how these three compare.
NFL vs. USFL vs. XFL – History
The NFL (National Football League) is the oldest and the most established of all football leagues in the US, even all of North America. It was founded in 1920 by the collaboration of four professional football teams, Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, and Dayton Triangles. The league played its first season in 1920 and has been holding seasons since then. It is regarded as the highest tier of professional football in the US.
The USFL (United States Football League) was founded in 1982 as a measure of elevating football from its status as a second-tier sport after baseball to a more prestigious sport. The league, however, remained active just for three years before being suspended in 1986 and has been dormant ever since. There have been reports of the league returning for the 2022 season.
The XFL was founded in 2001 as a direct competitor to the NFL. However, it could only survive a single season and remained dormant for many years after that. It started again in 2018 and played its inaugural season in 2020.
NFL vs. USFL vs. XFL – Budget
As the NFL is the most established football league in the US, it has the highest budget. It is estimated that the NFL had a $15.26 billion budget for the 2019 season.
The USFL’s budget pales in comparison to the NFL. It is reported that the league will have a budget of $150 million for the next three years. This will be funded by Fox Entertainment who will have the exclusive rights to broadcast the league.
There are no figures available about the operating budget or revenue of the XFL, but according to ESPN, former wrestler and actor Dwayne Johnson is planning to buy XFL for $15million. Which gives an idea of the financial size of XFL.
The NFL, being the largest of the leagues, has the most number of teams. There are a total of 32 teams that play the NFL every season.
USFL comes in at second place, with 18 teams being a part of the league for the three years (1082-1985) when it was active. For the upcoming 2022 season, the names of only four teams have so far been made public.
The XFL had eight teams when it first appeared in 2001 and still has the same eight teams for the upcoming season.
The most competitive league of the three is the NFL. The selection process consists of the NFL Draft, in which the players are stringently tested and evaluated before team managers sign them in their teams. Things like this beep test guide can help players prepare and self-evaluate for the draft.
There is no formal meeting or draft for USFL or XFL selection. Generally, college football players get selected for these leagues. As the payments are not as lucrative as in the NFL, only the players who cannot get selected in the NFL normally end up in the XFL or USFL.
The NFL season is typically 18-week-long. It starts in September and continues to the end of January. Each of the 32 teams plays 17 matches in the season. Play-off matches are held after the end of the season, leading to the final showdown between the two winning teams. The final is generally held on the first Sunday of February.
The USFL aimed to hold their 1986 season in winter, directly competing against the NFL. However, the season never happened as the league ceased operation before the season could start.
The XFL season is held between February and April. Each team plays ten matches, leading to the four play-offs to crown the champion. The league selected this time to capitalize on the lingering desire for football in public just after the end of the NFL.
The NFL, being the oldest and the most established league in North American Football, operates based on what is known as the standard rules of football. The other leagues have some variations.
In the XFL, the main variation is the ball’s placement at the start of the game. Unlike the toss of a coin that decides which team will have possession of the ball at the start, in XFL, one player from each team is positioned at the 30-yard mark with the ball at the 50-yard mark and the player to reach the ball first gets the possessions.
In addition to that, all the eight XFL teams are owned centrally and paid based on the number of games played by a team. In the NFL, however, the teams are owned by a franchise system and paid separately, independent of the matches they play in the system.
The USFL uses a system of rules that is a hybrid between the NFL and college football. The only major difference is in the rules regarding the stopping of the clock.
Even though nothing can be said about the future of these three leagues with absolute certainty, it seems evident that the NFL is here to stay for the foreseeable future. The other two have somewhat of an uncertain future. They might become successful or might cease to exist at all.
However, all these three leagues are the finest display of professional football in North America and have proven that football is every bit a major sport like baseball, if not more popular.
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