As you all know, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV, thus concluding the NFL's 100th season. The bad news: the NFL season has come to an end. The good news: there will still be Football for you to enjoy. This is because the XFL is back! Yes, I know it is not the NFL, but at least we will have some Football to enjoy throughout the spring each weekend.
For those of you who are unaware, the XFL originally ran for just one season back in 2001. The league attempted to be a competitor with the NFL but it turned out be far from that. There were strong ratings in the first few games but the viewership numbers plummeted and the league eventually folded after its inaugural season. It turned out be a "colossal failure", as owner of the XFL Vince McMahon put it.
A possible revival of the league started to gain momentum in 2017 when McMahon talked about bringing the XFL back in an ESPN documentary. That possibility became a reality in 2018 when it was announced that the XFL would begin their season in 2020. Well, it is now 2020 and we are less than a week away from the return of the XFL 19 years after the league began. Even though it is the return of the XFL, there will be a lot of differences compared to what the league looked like first time around. They have now learned from their past failure and most recently, the AAF's ultimate failure last year.
There will be eight teams in the league with a 10-game regular season. There will be two conferences (East and West) each consisting of four teams. The Eastern Conference will consist of the DC Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, and Tampa Bay Vipers. The Western Conference will consist of the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons. Each team will play the three other teams in their conference twice (home and away) and the four teams in the other conference once. The season kicks off this Saturday with the Seattle Dragons heading to the nation's capital to take on the DC Defenders. Throughout the season, every game will be televised with ABC, Fox, ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1 and FS2 showing games. For the first eight weeks of the season, there will be a pair of games on Saturday and a pair of games on Sunday. For the final two weeks of the regular season, there will be a Thursday night game, one game on Saturday and two on Sunday. The regular season will conclude on April 12 with the top two teams in each conference making the playoffs. First place in the East will host second place in the East and same thing in the West for the conference finals. The winner of the East will then take on the winner of the West in the XFL Championship on April 26.
Some notable and interesting differences in rules compared to the NFL include points after a touchdown, overtime and clock changes. After a touchdown, there will be no extra point. Instead there will be a scrimmage play with the option for a two-yard attempt for one point, a five-yard attempt for two points or a 10-yard attempt for three points. Overtime will be a five-round shootout of two-point conversions like a penalty shootout in soccer. This way both teams have an opportunity to win the game, the overtime is quick and a tie is not possible. Outside of the two-minute warning, the clock will run continuously. During this time the clock will only stop during a change of possession. The play clock will be 25 seconds long, each team will have two timeouts per half rather than three, and instant replay reviews will be limited to 60 seconds.
It is always going to be hard for a new spring Football league to gain popularity when there are so many other sports going on. There is MLS starting in late February and MLB starting in late March. There is also March Madness going on in the middle of the XFL season. The most interesting thing will be what the viewership numbers are like for the XFL playoffs because that is right around the same time as when the NHL and NBA playoffs begin. But then again, who knows if the league will even make it to the playoffs. The league could fold in a few weeks for all I know or the league could have great success and become spring Football entertainment in years to come. I don't think any of us really know how it's going to turn out but at least we have Football to look forward to post-Super Bowl, for now.