On Thursday, The XFL, unfortunately, had to suspend their regular season, midway through its completion, due to the circumstances surrounding our world today. It’s worth noting the XFL itself did not specifically mention the coronavirus by name. A pandemic that has shut down almost all sports and virtually brought the entire free world to a halt.
A day after the XFL suspended their season. A player on the Seattle Dragons tested positive for coronavirus. The positive test came after the XFL suspended their season. The XFL putting a stop to their season was the right and only thing they could do.
It hurts to see the XFL regular season come to an end. So much time, effort, and preparation were put into every little aspect of the league since 2018. The league put so much care and effort into building itself up brick by brick. It was all done to build up to what was coming. The best was yet to come.
The teams and the league’s overall play was improving week by week. Fans were becoming familiar with the players and every team’s style of play. The final five weeks would have provided high-drama with the playoffs and a championship at stake. The vision that the XFL sought to achieve was becoming a reality. Fans were embracing the league, its rules, and innovations.
There were some expected bumps in the road for the startup pro football league. Even with all the adversity, the XFL’s exposure was going to heighten towards the end of their season. With extended prominent network coverage, primetime weekday games on Fox in the final two weeks of the season, and a championship game in Houston, the day after the NFL Draft.
I genuinely believe that by seasons end, the XFL’s climax was going to win over a good number of the league’s non-believers. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The fans and the league were denied the proper ending to this story.
We won’t get to see all eight teams battle for the final four playoff spots. Every XFL team would have played three straight weeks of divisional games to decide those spots ultimately.
We won’t get to see how far the surging Josh Johnson would have taken the Wildcats. LA could have been Houston’s most significant obstacle in the playoffs. A PJ Walker-Josh Johnson playoff showdown would have lit up the scoreboard.
We won’t get to see St. Louis make its playoff surge in front of nearly 40,000 plus fans when LA made its way to the ‘BattleDome’.
Imagine the scenario where the BattleHawks could have been potentially hosting a playoff game in St. Louis. The league might have had to open their entire stadium. One can only imagine how the city would have reacted if the BattleHawks got to and potentially won the league championship.
If St. Louis had gotten to the championship game. One of the more unique scenarios would have occurred. Star safety Kenny Robinson, would have had the distinction of being drafted by an NFL team, and then a day after the draft concludes, playing in the XFL championship game.
We won’t get to see what it would have been like, had the Houston Roughnecks hosted the championship game on their home field. Would Houston have been able to complete the perfect season and go undefeated?
We never got to see the XFL’s overtime concept play out.
Despite all of this, the XFL as a league accomplished the goal they set out to do. Provide an entertaining and innovative pro sports league designed for everyone who loves football. The league was created for fans who love college and the NFL. Not as a rival to them but as a compliment.
I’ve never been good at writing love letters. Words often fail to capture what you truly feel inside. Writers often suffer ‘Writer’s Block’ for a myriad of reasons. Fear is usually chief among them. When it comes to expressing love, it’s the fear of exposing yourself, the fear of rejection, ridicule, and ultimately the fear of your words not being good enough.
I love the XFL. The question is, Why?
After all, The XFL is only a first-year pro sports league. The league has just twenty games under its belt. What has it done to earn anyone’s love? At the time of the league currently suspending games, The XFL was still trying to make its mark and prove that it belonged to the sports landscape. The league is still a long way from earning trust and respect universally. Achieving that can only be genuinely accomplished over a long period.
Throughout my life, I have always been a fan of the underdog. There are so many theories as to why people root for the underdog. Many theories suggest that we ultimately relate and identify ourselves to them. Some theories even suggest that it comes from the envy of those who are favored. Perhaps it’s all, none or some of the above.
I tend to root for those who have been dismissed, ignored, or doubted. The underdogs who I feel should be among the favored. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of football players in college and the pros are underdogs.
According to yearly statistics proved by the NCAA. Over 98 percent of all college football players don’t get to continue their careers as professional football players in America. The ones who do make it to the NFL have an average career of only four years or less. So many talented young football players do not get the opportunity to prove themselves. The numbers game is harsh. Hundreds of new players come into the NFL every year, and as a result, hundreds of players make their way out. The XFL provided a home for players to either start or continue their pro football playing careers.
The XFL is the ultimate underdog league. In more ways than one. It’s a league with over 450 players, who all embody the spirit of the dismissed, ignored, or doubted. The league itself is doubted by everyone and with good reason. Not since the AFL has a second pro football league in the states proved itself to be viable or sustainable over time.
The players and the league, share in the belief of many naysayers, that they don’t belong, and that they are not good enough. Anything the XFL does is ultimately compared unfairly to arguably, the countries #1 pro sports league, the NFL.
‘For The Love of Football’ was the XFL’s mantra and calling card, and they stuck to it with their actions on and off the field. We may have never gotten an overtime game. Still, the league and its teams worked overtime to create a league that was fan-friendly in the stadiums and for the viewer at home.
So much passion and love went into designing a league for football players, coaches, and fans. The XFL was a genuine passion product for XFL CEO Oliver Luck, DFO Sam Schwartzstein, and the entire league staff.
The XFL’s broadcasts brought fans closer to the game, players, and coaches than we have ever seen before.
The league also treated their pro football players with dignity and grace. The evidence of this is the XFL taking care of its players’ season salaries and benefits, despite the suspended season. The league’s rules were designed with the players safety in mind. No innovation better illustrates this than the kickoff and punt rules.
The XFL did right by the game of football, even when things went wrong, like the officiating clock snafu at the end of the Dragons-Roughnecks game. The league owned up to its mistake, immediately and self-corrected just an hour or so after the game concluded.
The league’s actions, not words, proved what they were indeed all about—The Love of Football. People who root for leagues like the XFL to succeed are die-hard football fans. The type of fans who watch every college and pro game, the type of fans who obsess over all college draft prospects.
It’s the answer to why fans like myself have supported the XFL because of our love for the game. We root for the league to succeed because our passion for football is pure.
We don’t know what the world is going to be like in the coming days, weeks, and months. It’s changing before our very eyes.
I do know that if and when the XFL resumes play. I plan on being there for the ride all over again. For The Love Of The XFL.
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