Graphic: Michael Klein

It is coming to the end of the NFL season, and that usually means the end of football action until next season; well, not this year. The XFL is reviving itself, and the first season since 2001 will begin Feb. 8. 

The XFL first started back in 2001, with Vince McMahon spearheading the league. The league tried to compete with the NFL, but the league folded after one season. Some other organizations have been attempting to compete with the NFL, most recently the AAF. The Alliance of American Football started up just last year in 2019 but went bankrupt before finishing the first season.

Ever since the XFL folded, Vince McMahon joked about reviving the league. On Jan. 25, 2018, McMahon announced the revival of the XFL, and the first season would take place in Jan. or Feb. 2020. McMahon is prepared to invest a lump sum of cash into this league, as much a $500 million. He also said that this time the league would not use the same sports entertainment features as used in the 2001 XFL league as in 2001 it compared to the WWE more than professional football.

The XFL announced team names and logos in Aug. 2019. There are eight teams in total, and there are two divisions, East and West. The four teams in the East are the DC Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, and Tampa Bay Vipers. The four teams in the west are the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons.

The next thing the XFL needed was players. They held an XFL draft in Oct. 2019. Quarterbacks were assigned to teams as the teams requested them, and these were labeled “tier 1” quarterbacks. Notable “tier 1” quarterbacks include Renegades QB Landry Jones, who played for the Steelers in the NFL and Oklahoma in college, and Defenders QB Cardale Jones, who won a national championship with Ohio State.

The rest of the draft included five phases, with the first four having ten rounds each. The first phase included offensive skill positions such as any other quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. Some notable quarterback selections from this phase of the draft include Roughnecks QB Connor Cook, who played for Michigan State in colleges and then the Raiders in the NFL. Also, Defenders QB Tyree Jackson who was a sleeper in the 2019 NFL Draft and spent some time with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent.

Other than quarterbacks, there were also some notable players in the first phase of the draft. Roughnecks WR Sammie Coates is most known for his time spent with the Steelers, Browns, and Texans in the NFL. BattleHawks RB Christine Michael is known for his two stints with the Seattle Seahawks as he racked up 915 yards and six touchdowns with the team. Another running back you might have heard of is Renegades RB Cameron Artis-Payne. The former Carolina Panthers running back was drafted in the fifth round in 2015 NFL Draft and averaged 4.2 yards per carry and five rushing touchdowns in the NFL.

The second phase included offensive linemen, the third phase included defensive front seven players, and the fourth phase included defensive backs. Some Notable names from these phases of the draft include Battlehawks S Will Hill, Dragons DT Will Sutton, and Renegades CB John Franklin III. Hill is most known for when on Monday Night Football, he returned a potential game-winning field goal that was blocked for a touchdown to win the game for the Ravens. Sutton was drafted by the Bears in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft and spent three years with the team and also bounced around with the Vikings, 49ers, and Arizona Hotshots. Franklin III is most known for his role in the television show Last Chance U and his time with the Bears and Buccaneers. 

The fifth and final phase of the draft was 30 rounds and open to any players left in the draft. The final phase was not short of notable names with Defenders S Matt Elam, Roughnecks DE Kony Ealy, and Wildcats DE Shawn Oakman. Elam was drafted in the first round by the Ravens in the 2013 NFL Draft and spent four years with the Ravens before being drafted into the XFL. The Panthers drafted Ealy and was apart of their Super Bowl run in 2015. Ealy recorded three sacks and an interception and tied both Reggie White and Darnell Dockett for the most sacks in a Super Bowl. Oakman was a promising young athlete with Baylor and many projected him to be a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. But before the draft, Oakman was arrested and charged with sexual assault. This caused every team to pass on him in the draft. He later was found not guilty, but this prevented him from getting into the NFL. Oakman spent time with many lower-tier football leagues before being drafted by the Wildcats.

The XFL will also be having some different rules than the NFL, most importantly being the point after touchdown and overtime rules. There will be no extra point kick; instead, there will be a scrimmage play, similar to the NFL’s two-point conversion, for a PAT. There are also different point values depending on where you spot the ball. A two-yard attempt would score a single point, a five-yard attempt two points, and a ten-yard attempt three points. If the defensive scores a touchdown on the conversion, they would score the same amount of points the offense was trying to score. Overtime is decided by a five-round shootout of two-point conversions similar to soccer or hockey. If at the end of five rounds the score is still tied, then it will go to sudden death where if “team A” scores and the “team B” doesn’t, then “team A” wins. This rule is to prevent ties which many NFL fans are articulate about.

The first game of the XFL is on Feb. 8, the weekend after the Super Bowl. The structure of the 2020 XFL season will follow a ten-week regular season and a two week postseason. Four games will be played per week with two on Saturday and two on Sunday and no bye weeks. Although one game per week in the last two weeks of the regular season will be played Thursday night instead of Saturday. Each team will play the teams within their conference twice and the other teams once. All games will be aired on networks such as ABC, FOX, FS1, and ESPN. At the end of the regular season, the top two teams in each conference will make the postseason. The two teams for the East will play each other, and the two teams from the west will play each other in a single-elimination bracket. The Championship game is on April 26, and the site is not confirmed.

Training camp is now over for the XFL and teams made cuts to shape their final rosters. Now with less than two weeks until kickoff, all eyes are on the XFL. Many football fans love the idea of another league because it means less downtime in-between seasons. We now wait for a new kind of football coming Feb. 8.

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