Second Coming Of The XFL

This weekend, the return of the XFL kicked off in Dallas, New York, Houston and Washington D.C.

I liked it and have a good feeling about this league.

Early reviews and ratings are already better than last year’s failure of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) which failed to finish the season.

I watched the highlights of all four games from the first weekend and I think they have a quality product on the field. It’s also a kinder, gentler version of the original XFL that Vince McMahn put in our faces in 2001.

I also love the rule changes with the kickoff and extra point rules where they have eliminated kicking the point after touchdown for letting teams go for 1,2 or 3 points. I think that’s a great idea.

The league had an average attendance of 17,000 in Dallas, DC, New York and Houston which isn’t too bad. The XFL generated more ticket sales revenue prior to kickoff than last year’s AAF generated during its entire season. TV ratings where respectable with over 3.3 million viewers.

So can the XFL make it where so many others have failed? It depends on one very important thing – money. If they play within their means and don’t try to compete with the National Football League (NFL) they could last a bit longer than other leagues that have failed in the past. I also think that scheduling might help. I’m not sure that starting the season the week after the Super Bowl is a good plan. I might have waited until the first weekend in March.

The XFL has a great opportunity to be a developmental league for the NFL. The XFL isn’t trying to do that yet but if they can be a stable league, the NFL might see the advantage of a working relationship. I would like to see that happen. I have always thought that a spring football league could work with the right financing and management.

I was glad to see that the new XFL dropped the gimmicky WWE hype from the first version. Maybe they got it right this time. It’s hard to predict their future after the first week but they are certainly off to a good start.

Scores from the first week:

DC Defenders 31, Seattle Dragons 19

Houston Roughnecks 37, Los Angeles Wildcats 17

New York Guardians 23, Tampa Bay Vipers 3

St. Louis Battlehawks 15, Dallas Renegades 9

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Arena Football League Sacked

aflIt appears that the crazy version called the Arena Football League (AFL) has folded.  The AFL, which was a condensed, indoor version of football has been lighting up the scoreboard with pinball football since 1987.

If the AFL were a cat, it is on it’s 9 1/2 life.  While the league office suggested that the league might continue in some form as a “travel/touring” league, most football experts believe that this is the final blow.  The news came as a surprise to many players and fans of the AFL.

In a statement released Tuesday, the league office said it is still searching for ways to continue operations in the future, but also acknowledged it is laying off employees.

“These closures have resulted in the elimination of various staff positions and is a direct consequence of the current financial constraints facing the AFL, which include extensive legacy liabilities and a recent multimillion dollar litigation filed against the league by an insurance carrier that provided coverage for the AFL between 2009 and 2012,” the league said in a statement. “Those liabilities, which are all related to prior league operations, severely constrain the league’s ability to expand and operate.”

The litigation that spurred the move was filed against Arena Football One by National Union Fire Insurance Company two weeks ago in New York Supreme Court in an effort to compel arbitration, alleging the league did not pay insurance premiums when National Union was the insurer from 2009 to 2012.

The suit alleges Arena Football One owes National Union over $2.4 million.

If the petition of arbitration is declined by a court, National Union has requested it be viewed as a complaint for breach of contract by the court, potentially leading to a lawsuit. The next appearance date for the petition is Dec. 18.

The AFL launched in 1987 with four teams and eventually as many as 19 teams in 2001.  The league even created their own second-tier league called AF2 which played from 2000-2009.  I attended many of the Macon Knights’ AF2 franchise.  The game was exciting to watch and high scoring.  Arena football was played on artificial turf over a hockey-rink sized field with “rebound nets” on each end where the ball was still in play when it bounced off of them.  The league also played in the winter/spring so as not to compete with college football or the National Football League (NFL).  The NFL never totally used the AFL as a developmental league which would have probably saved them.

The AFL had just four teams in 2018 but expanded to six before the 2019 season. Those six teams are based out of Albany, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Columbus, Philadelphia and Washington. The league went bankrupt in 2009 and even had to cancel the season before ultimately being brought back.

It doesn’t appear that there is much hope that the AFL will rebound to play again.  While there are still other indoor leagues, the AFL was always the “major league” among them.  It is doubtful that another league could rise to a major league caliber indoor league.  Even the other indoor leagues are in a state of flux with mergers and teams jumping to other leagues.  The only way a league could get a good footing on the indoor game would be with the backing of NFL financing and that is not likely to happen.