As you may have heard, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon will be restarting his failed football league from 2001, the XFL. The original rendition of this league flopped heavily due to both ratings and bad football. It took place during the NFL offseason and featured fewer rules and encouraged heavy violence. Allegedly, McMahon is restarting this league because he sees an opportunity, since the NFL’s ratings are down as of late and people have been openly complaining about the product, whether it be how the game is officiated to injuries to off the field social issues.
As I scroll through the Wikipedia article, I’m noticing some VERY interesting things about the first edition of the XFL. There were 8 teams: the Orlando Rage, Chicago Enforcers, New York/Jersey Hitmen, Birmingham Thunderbolts, Los Angeles Xtreme, San Francisco Demons, Memphis Maniax, and Las Vegas Outlaws. The Xtreme were champions in the only year of existence. There was an emphasis on combining wrestling with football, as players and coaches would be mic’d up during games and the public address announcers would talk trash while scantily-clad cheerleaders pranced along the sidelines (and were encouraged to date players). There was no pre-game coin toss. Instead, officials would roll the ball and two players from each team would dive for it in a scrum and whomever came out with it got to decide whether to kick or receive. This was referred to as the “Human Coin Toss.” The league MVP was Tommy Maddox, a former first round pick in the NFL and the quarterback that preceded Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, where he signed after the XFL folded. Former first round pick Jim Druckenmiller and current Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm were also notable players who played quarterback in the league. Former Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam played in the league as well. Runningback Rod Smart actually wore “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey rather than his own last name.
Some interesting rules included no PAT kick, you had to go for two after every touchdown except it only counted for one extra point, but you could get bonus points if you agreed to run the play from a further distance than the traditional 2-yard line for up to 3 extra points. Their overtime rules were similar to the NCAA except there were no opportunities for first downs, you must score within four plays. Also, before the ball was snapped, one player is allowed to get a running start toward the line of scrimmage as long as he is outside of the tackles, rather than standing still and being set. Punting was also heavily affected in the XFL. For example, punting out of bounds resulted in a 10-yard penalty, the punting team could recover the ball as long as it traveled 25 yards and regain possession even if the receiving team didn’t touch it, and most insanely, fair catches are not recognized. I’m sure when the XFL reboots, which is expected to occur in 2020, some of these rules may not be a thing.
So what can we expect to see out of the XFL? Well, we really have no idea what to expect, but here are a few things I’d like to see.
WWE Wrestlers Signed to Rosters, Wrestling Moves are Legal
This isn’t the craziest idea in the world because there are some WWE wrestlers with football experience. Brock Lesnar participated in training camp with the Minnesota Vikings. Roman Reigns was a defensive tackle at Georgia Tech. Hell, the Rock was a defensive end at Miami (FL) during the days when they were “The U.” Will they be good? Probably not, but I wouldn’t mind watching Lesnar suplex some runningbacks or Reigns spear a scrambling quarterback. Sure it might affect their wrestling schedules, but Lesnar barely shows up on WWE programming anyway and Reigns often gets booed out of the building so I’m sure some of these guys wouldn’t mind a chance to do something else.
Well-Defined Catch Rules
This is probably the biggest crutch facing the NFL right now as nobody really knows for certain what a catch is anymore. If the XFL can easily define it and have good success with their rules, we could see the NFL try and adapt. But hey, it’s Vince McMahon, whose WWE repeatedly changes its rules to fit the narrative they’re trying to tell so I wouldn’t be surprised if the rules are pretty loose.
“Exiled” Players Getting a Second Chance
The XFL is a great opportunity for guys who aren’t good enough for the NFL or guys who likely won’t make it back into the NFL to return to the spotlight. For example, I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest to see Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow quarterbacking teams in this new league. Maybe even Colin Kaepernick or Ray Rice. But the point is, the XFL can kind of serve as a secondary league. Hell, guys in the NFL who are in a contract year could use the XFL as a bargaining chip. If Le’Veon Bell doesn’t want to play on the Franchise Tag for the Steelers, he could threaten to go play for the Memphis Maniax.
Surprise Entrants on the Field
Let’s say a fight breaks out during the game. Let’s say Brock Lesnar is beating the Hell out of Roman Reigns. In a normal NFL game, referees and teammates try and break it up. But what if we hear Hulk Hogan’s theme music as he runs out onto the field to attack Lesnar, then takes a microphone and announces he’s joined Reigns’ team as the camera shows Lesnar’s shocked face. I can already hear the “bah gawd’s!”
The Championship Trophy is a Belt
That’s really all I have to say on this topic. You saw how the Turnover Chain worked for the U. Imagine if your goal was getting a title belt. They could treat it like the Stanley Cup and every player on the winning team gets to take the belt and do with it as he pleases.
A Women’s XFL Division
The LFL is already a thing and WWE over the last couple of years has been trying to make an improvement on how they promote women’s wrestling (which has been pretty poor in the past to say the least). Perhaps they’d be invested in a female division of the XFL with a few all-female teams that would face each other.
Offensive linemen can use steel chairs and put opposing pass rushers through tables. Or, what if you gained a weapon you can use for one play when you stopped at a certain part of the field. Perhaps if you’re tackled on the opponent’s 30 yard line, you can unlock a ladder that you can set up in the opponent’s end zone then plant a receiver in there. They can get really creative with this.
Unfortunately, very little of this will likely happen, especially considering McMahon announced that he won’t take players with any form of criminal record, which would rule out guys like Manziel and Rice. He also said he wants it to be “family-friendly” and emphasized forcing players to stand for the National Anthem. Plus, if they do revert to their old style of rules from the initial rendition, there will be outrage from the media and players, as the safety issues that the NFL struggles with right now would be increased ten fold in the XFL. In all, I really don’t expect this to do very well in the long run. The NFL is just too dominant to compete with. I think the XFL will do well its first week or so, but once people see how bad the quality of football is, they may see it as another Arena Football League. That being said, it is fun to theorize what could become legal in was originally intended to be a more barbaric football league.
That’s it for today’s blog, let me know what you think of the XFL revival and any creative rules you might have for the product in the comments section below and hit me up on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.