The XFL is not the NFL, nor does it need to be.

A mild rant by John Turner

Two weeks in and we’ve had two weeks of mixed baggage with the overall product being very entertaining and worth the price of admission. We’ve seen some teams look not quite ready, four teams that appear to be right in the middle and two teams look as if they are just quite frankly better than the rest. That’s pretty much what you get with the NFL but at a fourth the size and a lower level of talent, however it still looks like pro football if you ask me. We’ve seen some exciting plays, we’ve seen some great personalities, and we’ve seen some electric crowds for a league many fans and media outlets consider “fledgling”. Some complain of the markets the league have chosen and would suggest they stay out of those that already have NFL teams, too many other pro sport options, or places simply not considered “a football town”. Then there is me who assumes the game should be everywhere and if you build it, they will come.

At A Football World we don’t pride ourselves on being the people to break the story but more so being the folks that are capable of telling it the best way it can be told. That’s kind of what the XFL is attempting to do with the game. They don’t have Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, or Lamar Jackson, but they have a fun and fast game with players(some you know and some you don’t) that have worked really hard to get to this point and are leaving it all out there on the field for what the league is coining, “For the Love of Football”. The big hurdle the XFL must climb is not much different than a presidential election. They need to convince the people on the fence that they are indeed worth their time. Football fanatics like myself are willing to pretty much watch any level of the game no matter where it’s being played and by whom. You have many who only watch high school and or college football and don’t pay much attention to the pros for various reasons. You also have you NFL elitist fans who only watch what they consider the top level of competition. These folks think any level below the NFL simply isn’t worth watching. They don’t watch college, the CFL(or any international league for that matter), go to high school games, or anything else. They watch the NFL and that’s it(these are the football fans Roger Goodell wishes we all were). There are some fans of the NFL, College game, CFL, and High School fans though that are willing to check out new leagues with cautious optimism. I say this because we’ve had quite a few cases of “The Boy who Cried Wolf” in the past. Most recent being the Alliance of American Football.

Like the XFL, the AAF came out with 8 teams in 8 cities and were pretty exciting for the short run they had. The short run they along with all other leagues before them in the spring is exactly why many will remain on the fence until the XFL can show enough stability to stick around. I for one believe the league is rapidly making strides to do just that, and they’ve been showing us for about a year, the groundwork and product to achieve as much at only two weeks into their first season. Strong leadership at the top combined with strong TV contracts, and some great hires at coaching position mixed in with some extremely likable players and what do you know… we’ve got a fun league to watch. 

It started with Oliver Luck bringing his resume to the table to the hiring of Jeffrey Pollack, Doug Whaley, and Eric Galko. In came some strong head coaches and team presidents with Bob Stoops, Pep Hamilton, Marc Trestman, and Erik A Moses. Before you knew it the staffs were assembled, the league had 8 power markets they’d be playing in, and names and logos to root for. Then came the players. Each team was given a quarterback and the league put on a draft that was unique and fun to follow. They’d supplement rosters with a couple rounds of shorter drafts not long after. Lo and behold they met in Houston for a league wide training camp and provided some preseason action. They’ve played a little musical chairs with trades and had a little drama, but that’s to be expected in professional sports. For the most part they displayed everything you’d want to see from a pro football league leading up to last week’s week 1 action of their inaugural season. 

Week 1 saw 3 out of 4 home teams win and teams that didn’t have a question mark at quarterback move the ball with just as much ease as any other professional team in the NFL would for the most part. Some game were a tale of two halves while others were a bit of a boat race. Houston fired out of the Roman candle. Tampa couldn’t finish drives and turned the ball over too much. DC looked well rounded and ready to play, while displaying great energy as a team. Dallas and LA were down a QB1 and it showed. New York and St Louis did what they needed to do to get wins. While Seattle looked like a west coast team playing a day game on the east coast. If you didn’t know the wasn’t the XFL and I told you this information, it probably would sound as if I was describing the NFL. 

Week 2 had a similar pro football feel to it as well. We had a DC run New York off the field in a game where one team(Defenders) won all three phases and the other(Guardians) had a quarterback throw everyone he could fit under the bus while being frustrated at his team’s play. An an east coast team in Tampa heading as far north west as possible to Seattle. The Vipers showed once again they could move the ball almost at will, but killed themselves with turnovers and penalties causing them to lose the lead and the game to the Dragons. Dallas and LA both got their starting quarterbacks back in the lineup(Landry Jones on the Renegades and Josh Johnson on the Wildcats), and both teams looked much better on offense and collectively put up nearly 700 total yards. The better team probably won but I can say each team looked vastly improved from the week before. Then in the final game of the weekend we had a game come down to the wire. Two extremely exciting young quarterbacks who most people never heard of 6 months ago put on a back and forth game that went the distance and gave us a competitive game from start to finish.

If you ask me, I’d say that’s exactly what you’re looking for in pro football and it’s what the NFL has been giving us since I can remember. Some people, places, things have changed but it looks like all systems go pro football to me. I’m one of a small percentage of NFL fans that also love the Canadian Football League. Most like myself enjoy that variety of the game due to its faster pace, less penalties, slightly different rules and less theme for the dramatic. Well that’s exactly what the XFL is giving us as well so far. A different kickoff that so far looks better than the NFL’s. A 3 point conversion!!! Network personalities giving us on field interviews sometimes at awkward moments. A closer look into officiating and player to coach communication. Lastly and organically growing supportive crowd in each stadium rooting on their teams for the first time. Watching it all unfold so far has been a pleasure and it truly looks as though the best is yet to come.

We love all things football here at AFW and I’m just grateful were getting more.

Week 3:

Houston Roughnecks(2-0) @ Tampa Bay Vipers (0-2)

Dallas Renegades(1-1) @ Seattle Dragons(1-1)

New York Guardians(1-1) @ St Louis Battlehawks

DC Defenders(2-0) @ Las Angeles Wildcats(0-2)

To see the latest episode of “Around A Football World in About an Hour” click below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brWguKNZldE

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