XFL season kickoff: From 2001 flop to fresh in 2020

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STAMFORD, Conn. (WTAJ) — They say there’s no second chance at making a first impression, but the XFL might just change that.

In the middle of 2017, Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWE, reportedly sold more than 3.2 million shares of his personal stock to raise over $272 million dollars to fund a new venture company, Alpha Entertainment. That’s when the rumors, stories, and daydreams began.

It turns out, the whispers and rumors were right. On January 25, 2018, Vince McMahon held a press conference. Complete with an XFL set to speak from, he clearly had no interest in hiding the secret anymore.

Over the course of the press conference, McMahon touched on some of the mistakes they made in 2001, including rushing the first kickoff just months after announcing the “Xtra Fun League.” He stated that they will spend two years building the company, the league, listening to fans, adapting some rules, such as a shorter play clock and faster games, and enforcing others.

McMahon took on the task seriously as he sold his own personal stock in the WWE, and instead of starting the XFL under the WWE name as he did in 2001, he started a separate company. That’s where Alpha Entertainment was born.

With President Jeffery Pollack and commissioner Oliver Luck signed up to join the XFL early on, they began focusing on cities for the teams.

With the goal of having eight teams in various cities, the talk soon turned to everyone guessing what cities they might be. Rumors began to run and before we knew it, somehow, St. Louis got leaked as an official city. Shortly after all eight were named.

Fast forward, the eight all came with team names and logos. Those teams are the DC Defenders, Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, Seattle Dragons and Tampa Bay Vipers.

Everything seemed to be on a roll and before we could take it all in, the XFL Draft hit.

The draft first started by assigning a quarterback to each of the eight teams.

DALLAS RENEGADES: Landry Jones 

DC DEFENDERS: Cardale Jones 

HOUSTON ROUGHNECKS: Philip Walker 

LOS ANGELES WILDCATS: Luis Perez 

NEW YORK GUARDIANS: Matt McGloin 

ST. LOUIS BATTLEHAWKS: Jordan Ta’amu 

SEATTLE DRAGONS: Brandon Silvers 

TAMPA BAY VIPERS: Aaron Murray 

After releasing a lot of new rules and rule changes, there was a lot of debate, and quite a bit of excitement to see how it all plays out. XFL states they spent a lot of time analyzing feedback, talking to fans, looking at numbers and watching games. They’ve adjusted rules accordingly to give games a faster tempo, quicker games than the usual 3 to 3/12 hour NFL games.

One rule change example would be Coaches’ Challenges, as seen on the XFL site:

  • The XFL will have no coaches’ challenges and all plays will be subject to review from the Replay Official, who will be stationed in a booth above the field.
  • Reviewable plays are limited to: (a) Plays involving possession. (b) Plays involving touching of either the ball or the ground. (c) Plays governed by the goal line. (d) Plays governed by the boundary lines. (e) Plays governed by the line of scrimmage. (f) Plays governed by the line to gain. (g) Number of players on the field at the snap. (h) Game administration. (1) Penalty enforcement. (2) Proper down. (3) Spot of a foul. (4) Status of the game clock. (i) Disqualification of a player. This list of reviewable plays is identical to those in the NFL prior to 2019.
    • Exception: The Replay Official may correct obvious errors involving player safety at any point throughout the game.
    • Exception: The Replay Official may correct any egregious obvious error that may have a significant impact on the outcome of the game in the last five minutes of the 4th quarter or during overtime.

You can view all the rule changes and adaptations by clicking here.

The XFL has TV backing with ABC, ESPN, and Fox, as well as support from online betting sites who are picking up the XFL for fans to place bets on.

With McMahon vowing that there will be no crossover with the WWE like he did back in 2001, many believe this weekend is the XFL’s one shot to prove they can be a viable option to the NFL offseason.

Week 1: Saturday, Feb. 8

1 p.m. ABC
Seattle Sea Dragons
vs
DC Defenders

4 p.m. FOX
LA Wildcats
vs
Houston Roughnecks


Sunday, Feb. 9

1 p.m. FOX
Tampa Bay Vipers
vs
New York Guardians

4 p.m. ESPN
St. Louis Battlehawks
vs
Dallas Renegades

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