The Xtreme Football League (XFL) is a new American football league, but the question and conspiracy surrounding it is: Can it compete with the NFL?
Originally the concept of the XFL was introduced and created in 2000 by chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Inc. Vince McMahon. In 2001, the eight-team football league had only played for one full season, after which the league collapsed. The rebirth of the XFL began in 2017 when an ESPN documentary drew attention back to the lost league. McMahon announced the league’s return in 2018, with the inaugural season set to take place in 2020.
In 2020, they were prepared to relaunch the league, but COVID-19 came swooping in. Following the long and ongoing pandemic, the XFL officially launched on Feb. 18, 2023. The ownership is led by Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson and RedBird Capital Partners. Together, they teamed up and bought the XFL league out of bankruptcy for $15 million.
According to their official website, XFL will be a fan-first football league aiming to entertain fans and expand player opportunities. XFL is a global professional football league that is divided into the North and South regions of the United States. There are currently eight teams total, four in the North and four in the South. The northern teams include the D.C. Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis Battlehawks and Vegas Vipers. The southern teams are the Arlington Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Orlando Guardians and San Antonio Brahmas.
According to the Pro Football Network, the XFL will collaborate with the NFL instead of living in its shadow like it did in the past.
On Feb. 20, 2022, the NFL announced that they would be teaming up with the XFL on “innovation programs” to benefit the players and the overall environment surrounding the competitive sport. Johnson and Garcia have explicitly stated that although it is possible for XFL players to sign to an NFL team, they do not intend to “feed” the NFL new players.
The kickoff to the new season and Week One was on Saturday, Feb. 18, where the Renegades beat the Vipers 22-20, followed by a win for the Roughnecks, who beat the Guardians 33-12. The next day, Sunday, Feb. 19, the Battlehawks and the Brahmas went head to head, with the Battlehawks coming out on top 18-15. Later that evening, the Sea Dragons were defeated by the Defenders, 18-22. In the second week, the Defenders dominated the Vipers with a jarring 18-6 final score.
While the XFL is just wrapping up its second week, they are off to a rather slow start. According to Sporting News, the first four windows of the XFL telecast views were down by a drastic 50% compared to the same window in Week 1 three years ago.
Although the XFL and NFL may be able to team up and uplift one another, the new question is: Can the XFL and USFL do the same? Johnson claims that he will offer higher salaries for players than a USFL player, as stated by Bleacher Report. This statement has insinuated some competition between the two minor leagues, leading the public to question whether the two will be able to coexist in the long run.