The XFL just hosted its inaugural weekend of competition to the pleasure of fans, players, and media
Eight teams in eight major markets
The West Division includes the Los Angeles Wildcats, the Seattle Dragons, the Dallas Renegades, and the Houston Roughnecks
In the East Division, there are the New York Guardians, the D.C. Defenders, the St. Louis Battle Hawks, and the Tampa Bay Vipers.
National television partnership
The XFL has a television contract with Fox, ABC and ESPN. Each game is covered by one of these major outlets, and during week one of the XFL, the total TV ratings for the weekend averaged around 3-4 million viewers per game.
Reimagining the way the game is played
The XFL has committed to making the game of football more entertaining with less downtime between plays. They have also adjusted some of the rules to make the game more engaging for the viewer and safer for the players.
Some rule changes include adjusting the kickoff by putting the receiving team on the 30-yard line and the defending team on the 35. The ball is then kicked to the lone returner, the ball must land inside the 20-yard line or it will be a penalty and the ball will be placed at the plus 45-yard line. If the ball goes for a touchback, the play will start at the 35-yard line.
Another significant rule change is the extra point. If the offense scores a touchdown they are not allowed to kick an extra point. Instead, they can choose between going for one point from the two-yard line, they can go for two points from the five-yard line, or they can choose to go for three points from the 10-yard line.
New game engaging moments
The new league has decided to be as transparent as possible with what is going on during the game, giving viewers unprecedented access. Every coach is mic’d up, and the fans can hear what play is being called. The quarterback is also mic’d up, and we can listen to his communication on the field.
On plays that are reviewed by referees in the booth, fans can hear the rationale behind the ruling of a controversial play. Sideline reporters are also given access to interview players just moments after a big play on the field.
Players to look out for
For the XFL to be successful, it comes down to the level of quarterback play. P.J. Walker, quarterback for the Roughnecks, opened a lot of eyes last weekend with his top-notch performance. Walker threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns in his debut. Elite quarterback Cardale Jones lived up to the hype, throwing for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Wildcats receiver Nelson Spruce and Vipers receiver Dan Williams each topped 100 yards receiving.
On the defensive side of the ball, Elijah Campbell flashed from his cornerback position. Campbell covered anyone lined up against him, but his heroics came on special teams where he blocked a punt for a touchdown to give the Defenders their first touchdown of the game. Guardians safety Wesley Sutton had a league-high two sacks as the entire Guardians defense shined with three interceptions, five sacks, and zero touchdowns allowed in their opening game.
Will the league last?
There is no question that Americans love football, but it is always tough to start a league from the ground up. The XFL has done a great job of finding new ways to engage fans who have zero allegiance to these new teams. Unlike most sports leagues, the XFL has embraced betting on the games. On each broadcast, the over-under for the game is listed with the estimated point spread. Even the announcers are updating people on if they think the game will hit the over. This is a great way to get fans involved.
As far as the overall talent in the league, there was some high caliber play, but what could push this league into massive ratings is trying to go after such star-studded guys like Colin Kaepernick, Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow. With quarterbacks such as these, the league would be a can’t miss show with some of America’s favorite players finally whipping that ball down the field again.
If you want to know more about the XFL follow my podcast on YouTube called “In With The New XFL Podcast.”