The XFL Debut Looks Promising For the League

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“For the love of football” 

I have to admit, the first week of the new XFL was actually entertaining.  Almost two years went into the launching of the new league that was once a gimmick and a joke from WWE chairman Vince McMahon.  It looks like the league has the formula to last.

 Houston Roughnecks quarterback PJ Walker  -  photo courtesy of touchdownwire.com
The first rendition of the XFL kicked off in 2001, a joint venture between the WWE and NBC, was created to be an alternative to the NFL.  The league was promoted to have less rules than the NFL and wanted rougher plays.  The league was criticized immediately due to the WWE inspired feel to the programming that included heat, kayfabe and cheer leaders that were dressed very provocatively.  The league took a beating and collapsed after one season of play.  The WWE and NBC both lost $35 million dollars on their $100 million dollar investment into the league.

When Vince McMahon announced he would be bringing back the XFL, it was met with skepticism.  Variety would comment on the revival of the XFL, “Vince McMahon’s XFL revival has made deals with Fox and Disney to get weekly games on ABC, Fox, FS1, and ESPN, meaning this dumb thing is one step closer to actually happening.”

McMahon would start a company known as Alpha Entertainment, which would "explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football."

On January 25, 2018, Alpha Entertainment announced the revival of the XFL that would begin play in 2020.  In the press conference, McMahon said that the league would not resemble the old XFL, but would keep the same name due to so many things having a trademark with “FL” in it.  McMahon announced the league that would open with eight teams and would have a group of people who were serious about making this league work.

Shop for exclusive RUN DMC "RUN CTY" NBA Fan Gear at NBAStore.comThe XFL announced Oliver Luck as the league’s commissioner and chief executive officer.  Luck would left the NCAA to take over the operations of the new found league.  McMahon put a leadership group in place that began to separate this new league from the old one.

The league kicked off with the DC Defenders and Seattle Dragons.  The Defenders QB Cardale Jones looked like the league MVP after one game, in fact the crowd chanted “MVP” after two plays.

The kickoff of the actual game was incredible.  I like how the XFL has changed the game with kickoffs that makes it a little more interesting than what we’ve seen in the NFL.

Jones is the Face of the XFL after week one and its not even close.  The Defenders quarterback was 16-of-26 for 291 yards and two touchdowns.  Jones would lead his team in front of a crowd at Audi Field to a 31-19 win over the Dragons.

The XFL debuted its on-field interviews during the game and the Dragons center Dillion Day didn't disappoint.  “We’re trying to make some stuff happen and there’s some extra pushing and shoving.  We’re trying to get a f#@%ing job done and just-” said Day. The censors were unable to pick up Day's sideline conversation, but the real-time competitiveness from Day showed and added a different vibe for the XFL.  Whether or not the networks will continue to do the on the spot interviews, but his real-time reaction was authentic and very un-NFL like.

In fact, the first XFL game drew 3.3 million viewers on ABC.  The key will be if viewers will tune back in for the remainder of the season now that the newness of the league will begin to wear off as the season progresses.

The quality of play was entertaining and the games were fun to watch.  The quarterbacks looked good, the game was fast and the it was a very interactive product.  The no point after kicks by kickers was an interesting twist.  Teams having the option of going for one, two or three points adds a new twist to the game that is completely different from the NFL.

The other Saturday game was between the Houston Roughnecks and the LA Wildcats.  Roughnecks quarterback PJ Walker was fire in his first game in the XFL.  The former Temple and Colts quarterback threw for four touchdowns, had 272 yards passing and a two-point conversion looked really good for Houston.  The Roughnecks won their home game 37-17 over the Wildcats.

The Guardians hosted the Vipers at MetLife Stadium and defeated the Vipers 23-3.  The Guardians played in front of a half empty stadium but the team looked solid in week one.  Defensively the Guardians made the Vipers look foolish.  Vipers quarterback Aaron Murray only completed 47% of his passes in his team's loss.
St. Louis Battlehawks QB Jordan Ta'amu
Photo courtesy of KHON2.com

The second game on Sunday was between the Dallas Renegades and the St. Louis BattleHawks.  The BattleHawks upset the Renegades 15-9 on the road.  BattleHawks quarterback Jordan Ta’amu did everything asked of him by going 20/27 for 183 yards and a score with a 108.4 rating, he added 77 yards on the ground.

The Renegades did not have their starting quarterback Landry Jones, who was hurt a few weeks ago.  The Renegades expect him back this weekend and the team will look to get back on track.

While the long term of the league will remain a question mark because the XFL is only a week old, it seems to have a formula to succeed.  They have a fast paced play, they have decent quarterbacks to keep the game interesting and a different set of rules to separate themselves from the NFL.

The XFL is a chance at redemption for the players and McMahon.  The players have a new platform to show they can play and potentially try and resurrect their careers in the NFL or even take the XFL to the next level.  For McMahon, this is an opportunity to show this new league is nothing like the first rendition and it's what he always envisioned.

After one week, McMahon can finally say again, “Ladies and Gentleman, this is the XFL!”



Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisHenrique

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Boston Sports Syndicate: The XFL Debut Looks Promising For the League
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