Xtreme Football League makes strong statement in opening week

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Illegitimate Barrister | Wikimedia Commons

Isaiah Hinton

Violence, sex and mayhem. While those three words would be apt for a high-speed thriller movie or the stage of World Wrestling Entertainment, they were the three principles behind WWE owner and CEO Vince McMahon’s darling project, the Xtreme Football League. 

In 2001, the XFL was launched to mix the world of wrestling and the realm of football into a package that can fill the void for spring football left by the NFL. 

The XFL was a massive failure for many reasons, the chief of those being the lack of professionalism around the league. 

The league was formed quickly, and teams only had 30 days to practice and generate enough cohesion to call themselves a team beyond the fact that they wore the same jerseys. 

As a result, the play on the field could not compensate for the controversy the league generated, with McMahon under fire for appealing to male viewers’ base desires in a last-ditch attempt to stay relevant. 

After just one season and the infamous “Million-Dollar Championship Game,” the league folded into the cesspool of other failed spring football leagues. 

However, McMahon always believed that the XFL could have succeeded and all it needed was time and support.

Because of this, he decided to attempt what many, including himself, have failed to achieve. 

In 2018, he announced the return of the XFL, promising a fast-paced, professional and fun football league. 

Teams now had two years to prepare for their debuts, the rules of the league solidified and the overall quality elevated.

The XFL is designed to change the way football is played. Even though that statement sounds extremely corny, the league’s alterations to the flow of play are designed to minimize injuries and increase the pace.

On kickoffs, blockers line up on the receiving team’s 35-yard line and cannot rush until the returner touches the ball. 

In addition, all kickoffs must pass the 20-yard line of the return, otherwise the kicking team will get penalized.

Instead of extra-points, teams will now have the option between one, two and three-point conversions. 

The game clock runs continuously, and the play clock is limited only to 25 seconds. Also, the officials are mic’d up to increase transparency in decision-making. 

Not only does the league boast new and innovative rules, but it also boasts reputable names. 

At the helm of the league is commissioner Oliver Luck, an experienced and knowledgeable football executive who is well-respected throughout the league. 

The coaches of the debutante league have an extensive football pedigree, with former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops helming the Dallas Renegades and Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride taking the reins of the New York Guardians.  

The league is not short on notable names with former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones assigned to the DC Defenders and former Pittsburgh Steelers signal-caller Landry Jones drafted by the Dallas Renegades.

One week into their debut season, the XFL has drawn the attention of many people, optimistic of the potential of the league. 

In the inaugural game, the DC Defenders defeated the Seattle Dragons 31-19, in front of close to 20,000 people in Audi Field. 

Jones was the star of the game, completing 16 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns. 

In addition, Jones showcased his ability to create positive yardage out of broken plays, a skill he was praised for in Ohio State. 

In MetLife Stadium, defense was the story as the Guardians lived up to their name. 

Registering 3 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions and 5 sacks, the Guardians shut down the Tampa Bay Vipers, led by former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, by a score of 23-3. 

Another star for Week 1 of the XFL was Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker. 

Walker completed 23 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns to lead Houston to a 37-17 victory over the Los Angeles Wildcats. 

Walker’s feet were also the topic of praise, as he was able to step up in the pocket and fire down the field. 

The last game of the week was a low scoring affair, as the St. Louis Battlehawks defeated the Dallas Renegades 15-9. 

Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu was extremely efficient in the victory, only registering seven incomplete passes out of 27 attempts.

The verdict on the XFL is still to be decided. Television deals with ESPN, ABC and Fox Sports, as well as ticket revenues that have exceeded the total revenue of the defunct Alliance of American Football, suggests that the league has some staying power. 

An average of 3.12 million viewers tuned in to the league, which also speaks to the successes of their marketing. 

The first week of XFL 1.0 also drew high ratings, but this iteration of the league does not have the reputation of the original.  

If the first week is any indication, the XFL might have carved out its niche in the realm of football.