Vince McMahon, the master promoter and founder of WWE, has returned to take another swing at professional football. If you haven’t heard, the Xtreme Football League (XFL) is back and hoping they learned something from the last failed attempt. In 2001, McMahon brought us the inaugural XFL season amid a lot of hoopla, fanfare, and bad football. The first game of the season opened to higher television rating than the network and McMahon expected, but ratings quickly went down due to bizarre rules, weird camera angles, and the low level of play. Some of the things the XFL introduced were adopted by the NFL, like overhead sky cameras and miked-up players, but it was not enough to extend the league beyond one season. Here’s what you need to know about the XFL.
If you are trying to figure out which team to root for, there are eight of them spread out across the country. The inaugural player draft was held in October 2019, with a total of 568 players joining the eight franchises. The players are all from major college programs, former pros, or unsigned free agents who came from practice squads. The teams are:
- Dallas Renegades
- Houston Roughnecks
- Los Angeles Wildcats
- New York Guardians
- St. Louis BattleHawks
- Seattle Dragons
- Tampa Bay Vipers
- DC Defenders
The season follows a similar model to the NFL and college football. The eight teams are split into two divisions chosen geographically. The season will be 12 weeks long, including the playoffs. Each team will play 10 games in and out of their division. At the end of the regular season, the top two teams in each division will play each other to determine who will play in the championship game, with the first-place teams hosting the playoff game.
This time around, the XFL is trying to set itself apart from the NFL, not through gimmicks and weird names on the players jerseys (who can forget Rod “HeHateMe” Smart), but through different rules and a faster game. The league took thousands of suggestions from players, coaches, and potential fans about how to improve on the league and not duplicate the mistakes of the NFL and the things fans hate. Some of the more notable changes are:
- Game/play clock. The clock will run for the entire game except for the last two minutes of each half. There are no injury time-outs or players going out of bounds to stop the clock. There will also be a 25-second play clock, which is shorter than the NFL’s 40-second play clock.
- Scoring. There will be no extra points attempted by field goal. After a 6-point touchdown, teams can go for 1, 2, or 3 extra points by running the ball from the 2, 5, or 10-yard line.
- Challenges. There are no coaches’ challenges, and all plays are reviewable by a replay official.