The XFL was supposed to be a new alternative football league to the NFL (National Football League) that was founded in 2001. Now, at first glance, to many people, it would seem that this was just a terrible idea. Probably about as terrible as not being able to play fun-filled games with your Jackpot Capital casino download.
I mean, the NFL was already the established standard for Football for 100 years as of 2020. When the XFL started, it would still have been almost 80 years as the XLF was established in the year 2001.
However, even though most people would roll their eyes if some Joe Schmoe off the street said he was starting a new football league, the XFL was announced as a joint effort between the WWF (World Wrestling Federation, which is now the WWE or World Wrestling Entertainment) and NBC (National Broadcasting Company).
So, as you might think, seeing these two big names announce that they plan to take a joint effort in making a new football league, raised some eyebrows in interest.
So much interest in fact, that the opening game of the XFL attracted an incredible 54 Million viewers. In comparison, that year’s Super Bowl attracted approximately 84 million viewers. The difference might be great, but 54 million people is still nothing to scoff at for a new league.
However, there might be a question burning in the back of both of your minds. If the XFL had such a successful opening game, why have most people never heard of it? Or maybe in addition, why on Earth would someone watch it instead of the NFL?
What’s the difference?
The XFL wanted to take elements from football and wrestling, then combine them into a sort of chimera of the two. The original intent was to be able to attract both fans of the WWF and fans of the NFL.
This is also shown in how their season was set up. The XFL season started after the NFL season. This was to try and take advantage of NFL fans lingering desires to watch football after the season ends.
However, this mode of thinking brought with it a lot of problems. Ultimately, the XLFs “deal” would most likely lead to its downfall as lovers of wrestling and football were left unsatisfied.
For one, the XFL tried to incorporate many elements of the WWF into the football games. This included scantily clad cheerleaders and long hype up times before the games where they announced all the players.
In addition, they tried to take on some of the “story” and “personality” that the WWF was famous for by having some creative cinematography to help the players watch games better, and having the players all take nicknames.
In addition, the team names were all things that would seem reminiscent of what you might see in the wrestling world rather than the football world. Names such as “Orlando Rage” and New York/New Jersey Hitmen”.
There were also many significant rule changes that would set the XFL apart from the NFL. Usually, these rule changes were to make the XFL more extreme and exciting, but once again it seems like they may have taken things too far for their own good.
Major Rule Changes
When starting a game of football, it has to be decided which team will start with the ball. Although there are theoretically many ways this can be done, the NFL decided on a simple coin toss.
It’s simple, elegant, and since it is done on the field, no team can really say another team got some special advantage. There is also no worry of players getting injured before the game even starts, or people getting angry and starting fights.
In contrast, the XFL decided to make the decision a bit more… extreme. The XFL called how players would decide who gets possession of the by the “Opening Scramble.”
This consisted of one player from each team lining up on the 30 yard line. Then, the ball was placed on the 50 yard line. A whistle would be blown, and both players have to race to get possession of the ball first.
The first player to get possession of the ball from its resting place on the 50 yard line got to grant his team possession of the ball.
In a sort of sick twist of fate, one of the famous injuries sustained during the XFL’s time was during the opening scramble of a game. The Orlando Rage’s Hassan Shamsid-Deen suffered a separated shoulder which kept him for the remainder of the season.
That game would be the Orlando Rage’s season opening win, which Hassan Shamsid-Deen would not even get to play in.
Another rule change is that of the “Fair Catch” which the NFL defines as:
“A Fair Catch is an unhindered catch of an airborne scrimmage kick that has crossed the line of scrimmage, or of an airborne free kick, by a player of the receiving team who has given a valid fair catch signal.”
In contrast, the XFL had no such rule. The receiving player was allowed to be tackled, and this only lead to an increased risk of injuries to the players.
Finally, another big difference (although not really a rule) is that the XFL owned all of the teams, and they would be paid based on the games they played, and whether or not they won.
As you may know, the NFL works in a franchise system. Teams are owned by different individuals, and the teams make money based on how well the games do and if the team wins etc etc…
Why Did the XFL Fail?
Although this might be just speculation on my part, the XFL failed because it didn’t really do anything it set out to do well enough.
It wanted to appeal to wrestling lovers, but it was still just a football game. There was no fighting or real story like there is in wrestling.
It wanted to appeal to football lovers, but the football wasn’t very good. The players were all people who couldn’t make it on the NFL, otherwise, they would have played in the NFL!
This meant that the wrestling aspects just turned off football fans, especially since the games that were played weren’t very good to begin with. The increased risk of injury kept players out of the game, and it wasn’t really fun to watch your favorite players get benched.
Finally, the whole concept just simply fell into too much of a niche. The only people who ended up wanting to watch the XFL were people who happened to be fans of both wrestling and football. That lowered the audience numbers by quite a bit.
There was also a greater than insignificant concern amongst players that the games were being rigged like how they were in WWF. Even though it was later shown the games were fair, the games weren’t good enough for people to really care.
Now, even though the XFL ultimately tanked, it did bring a few new ideas to how we watch football today. For instance, sky cameras would later be adopted by the NFL and become standard practice.
The XFL was refounded in 2018, and in 2020 it would be purchased by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia. According to the XFL website, it seems they have plans to restart the league in 2023, and with it, perhaps the XFL will have another chance at popularity.
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