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Folks, the XFL has finally arrived and boy, it came out on fire. What a huge success for the league to have such a great start. But a lot of people are rightfully asking, Will the league continue this pace? Or will it go down the path of its predecessors; the USFL, original XFL, and most recently the AAF.
If you look at the numbers, the XFL dominated. The games averaged 3 million viewers each, ticket sales have already surpassed the entire half season run of the AAF, and gambling wise, had 20 times the betting handle than the AAF had in its first two weeks combined. Want some icing for that delicious red velvet cake of numbers? Go on the XFL’s website; virtually all of the apparel is sold out.
With all of the number mumbo jumbo out of the way, let me dive into what I liked and disliked about this new majestic football league.
What I Like
Honestly, there’s a lot that I like about the XFL, I was a believer from when it was first announced a couple years back. But these are some of the big things I took away from the first weekend.
Easily the number one thing I liked that the XFL is doing, is having the Spread and over/under on the scoreboard throughout the entire game. Granted, that’s only for the ABC/ESPN broadcasts, but Fox also repeatedly brought it on screen.
The next biggest thing, which was arguably loved by everyone, was how smooth the replay/reviews were. In the NFL, reviews would probably take four to five minutes while only showing the replay in the corner of the screen as they show the same Ram truck commercial for the 69th time (nice). That stuff won’t happen in the XFL buckaroo. Reviews never lasted more than two minutes, they showed us the replays officials were watching, AND everyone was mic’ed up so we got to hear why the calls were made. I need every sport to be doing this instead of finding ways to ruin the sport. I’m looking at you Rob Manfred, you bum.
Lastly, the games just felt fun. Like the players were playing just to play, not for a paycheck. I mean come on, the XFL’s tagline is “For the Love of the Game. Now I know they’re getting paid roughly $50k a year and this is a stepping stone for most to play in the NFL, but it just felt different. We periodically call the NFL the “No Fun League” cause it seems no matter what you do, there’s a fine waiting. Since we do that, we should start calling the XFL the “eXtremely Fun League.” Could Taylor Heinicke “Stone Cold” two Bud Light Seltzers if he were still on the Carolina Panthers? I say nay. Hell, we saw a player do the infamous “three pump” celebration from the Key & Peele skit. That’s 15 yards if Roger Goodell is your boss. Not to mention you have arguably the best sports media member, Pat McAfee, having free range as the field analyst. Him going up and asking a player why he ruined Marquette King’s perfect, aphrodisiastic, punt right after the play had me dying.
Oh, and the kickoffs were pretty sweet too. Who doesn’t love seeing huge kick returns?
What I Disliked
There’s hardly much that I dislike. Mostly, it’s just the times the games start. 2pm and 5pm on Saturdays, while Sundays are 3 and 6pm just seems weird. Here’s my proposal to fix this; Saturday play games at 3pm and 8pm, Sunday play at 1pm and 4pm like the NFL. We’re at the point where the top college basketball games are played at noon and 7pm Saturday. For peak fandom performance, have the games played in between. Sunday’s just follow the NFL way because nobody wants to wait until 3pm for football. That’s the beginning of Sunday nap time.
If there’s anything else I wasn’t a fan of, it has to be how conservative most of the coaches were. I understand it’s the first week of this new league and teams only had around a month of practice beforehand. But to have the option of going for one, two, or three points after scoring a touchdown and you virtually always go for one? Pitiful. Be a man and go for three every time.
Also, if possible, pull an USFL and get a big time player to join the XFL instead of the NFL. That’ll forsure skyrocket everything. Trevor Lawrence a Houston Roughneck? Make it happen Vince, you got the WWE money.
All in all, I’m a big, big fan of the XFL and seriously hope it sticks around for the long haul. I understand we have to wait and see how viewership is affected by March Madness and The Masters, but this feels different than most startup leagues prior. The XFL has the right people in the right places to make the league last. Is it possible it becomes a niche market like the Arena Football League was? (RIP) Of course, but football is football and if there’s some random league on tv, you can always bet I’ll be there rooting for it.