Another Look at the XFL:
those the new team names? No, those are the current NFL Europe
League teams. Maybe you missed the 7 World Bowl Titles and the name
change from the World League of American Football (WLAF). But we'll
get to that later.
few months ago, my friend Jimmy The Roman
took a brief look at the upcoming XFL. The inaugural XFL season
begins on February 3, 2001, and ends on April 21, 2001, with the XFL
Championship Game. Jimmy would have you believe that the XFL will be
nothing more than the WWF with helmets. Unfortunately, he couldn't be
further from reality. In my opinion, the XFL will make it. Here's one
main reason why: GREED. Just like politics, greed makes strange bedfellows.
is also the same reason why other upstart leagues, such as the
American Football League (AFL), World Hockey Association (WHA) and
American Basketball Association (ABA) made it. OK, so the USFL didn't
make it but that was more about egos than money. With owners like
Donald Trump who could outspend them, the NFL was NEVER going to let
Trump into the NFL owners "club."
that history repeats itself if one chooses to ignore it. In 1970,
the American Football League (AFL) merger with the NFL created the
NFL that we know today. The three-year-old World Hockey Association
(WHA) competed with and eventually merged with the current National
Hockey League (NHL). In the mid-1970s, it was the American Basketball
Association (ABA) that rocked the NBA's status quo. And it wasn't
until the ABA's two strongest teams--the New York Nets and Denver
Nuggets--applied for NBA admission that we saw the beginning of the
end for the upstart league. Of the NBA's 30 current teams, only the
Warriors, Knicks, and Celtics were around for the league's modest
beginnings. Some have even argued that it was the ABA merger, with
its "unorthodox" rules and relaxed player attitudes, that
made the NBA the cash machine that it is today. If it wasn't for ABA
star Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Sir Michael and Larry Bird
wouldn't have had anything to save.
leagues are a positive thing and should be a welcomed by true sports
fans. It is a process where the "new" league challenges the
established league for many things: talent, exposure, fans and
ultimately, money (a.k.a. GREED). It is this last reason that most
upstart leagues succeed. If the new owners aren't completely
repulsive, the established owners are better off joining them than
trying to beat them into submission. That's where the XFL may have a
tough time, since it's mostly owned by the WWF and its caustic owner
Vince McMahon. Yes, officially the XFL is wholly owned by the WWF but
he's not really alone. The wildcard is his "silent"
partner: GE, owner of the NBC network that will broadcast the XFL
games. (Note: XFL games will also be broadcast on UPN, but no one is
scared of them.)
struggle began when the established owners--the NFL--cut GE out of
their megabuck TV sandbox. GE doesn't take anything lying down. GE
isn't the most feared and revered of companies for just any reason.
This is where the NFL will lose because GE and McMahon have nothing
to lose and everything to gain. GE has a vesting interest that Mr.
McMahon's wild hair makes it. NBC is already promoting the XFL more
than the PGA's Senior Tour, which it has landed for its CNBC network.
players are going to be the same kids we've seen. Let's face it, the
XFL will be drawing from the same college talent that the fat-n-sassy
NFL plunders on a yearly basis. And the XFL isn't DIRECTLY competing
for talent with the NFL, though they will be competing with the NFL
Europe. However, I think that the XFL has the same distinct advantage
that the NFL uses to draw players to NFL practice squads: you'll get
to stay in the States.
the NFL Europe players are all NFL or college washouts.
contraire, mon frère. Lest we forget, NFL starters like
Chicago Bears standout WR Marcus Robinson was with the Rhein and
Super Bowl MVP QB Kurt Warner was in Amsterdam in 1998. More than a
few current NFL players made their mark in the NFL Europe. Former
Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel landed a job with
the Green Bay Packers following a record-setting League season with
the Rhein Fire.
moral of the story is that the XFL can make it. The rules are not as
kooky as Jimmy The Roman would lead you to believe. In fact, many of
them are either "old" NFL rules (i.e., no QB in-the-grasp
rule) or college rules (i.e., one foot receptions instead of two).
about the no fair catch rule for punts?
not what it has been exaggerated to be--they forget to tell you that
the punt team can't leave until the ball is actually kicked and there
is a 5-yard halo instead of the NFL's 3-yard halo. That is an old NFL
rule as well.
in all, I expect the XFL to be entertaining. Sure, it's going to be
a little rough starting out, but give them the benefit of a second
look. So, you should get familiar with the new XFL teams. If history
is any indicator, the XFL teams or their stars will end up in the NFL.
There are already XFL Fantasy Leagues cropping up!
Room is written by Michael Skordeles