What to Expect from the XFL and AAF

Today, the new XFL announced the eight cities that will have an inaugural team when the they launch in 2020. They chose LA, NYC, Dallas, Houston, Washington D.C., St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Seattle for their new team locations. This got me thinking, could pro football leagues like the XFL or the Alliance of American Football, which is set to start up this February, ever compete with the NFL?

The last league to broker a deal to merge with the NFL, and the only league, was the AFL in 1970. Along with Joe Namath and the Jets beating the Colts in Super Bowl III, this merger created the greatest pro sports league in North American history. Other leagues have tried to compete with the giant that is the NFL, most notably the USFL, the original XFL, arena football, and even the CFL when they expanded to a few cities in the U.S. But, they all have failed. So to answer the question at hand, no, the XFL and AAF will not compete with the NFL as to which league is the better football league. What they will try to do is give football fans an alternative to the NFL when there is no football to watch.

Why doesn't the CFL gain any traction in the U.S. while being very successful in Canada? For starters, the rules are very different from the NFL rules; there are only three downs to move the chains, the field is much larger, and offensive players don't have to be set when the ball is snapped. Secondly, and most importantly, the level of play is just not on par with the NFL or even NCAA football for that matter. This is where the the XFL and AAF will have the most problems if you ask me.

The thing that both leagues do have going for them is that they both are seeking to drastically improve the speed of games and fan engagement. Vince McMahon said that he wanted XFL games to be completed within two hours! Now the only way I foresee that happening is if he takes the halftime out of the games, but it could happen. Also, the AAF is doing away with the kickoff and the PAT, making the game safer and keeping fans interest, because as much as I like the kickoff and PAT, they are the most boring plays during an NFL game. These are two things that Roger Goodell has been trying to do for a while now. If these rule changes become successful in the AAF, do not be surprised if the NFL adopts these changes too.

The AAF will be filled with many guys that just couldn't make a final 53-man roster in the NFL, and a few big name college stars that couldn't find their footing in the NFL, like Trent Richardson, or Christian Hackenberg. The league has also surrounded the players with great football minds for coaches; Steve Spurrier and Mike Singletary to name a few. The league is also capitalizing by putting a few teams in cities that love football, but don't have an NFL team like San Diego or Birmingham, AL. With all the planning that Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersol have put into this project, I don't don't see why the AAF couldn't succeed, and maybe even become a minor league or G-League for the NFL.

As for the XFL, not much is known right now about what the league will look like compared to the NFL or AAF. What is known right now is that McMahon wants a XFL that is totally different from the old XFL he started 17 years ago. For this go around, he wants the league way more family friendly, even saying that players with criminal records will not be allowed to play. Also, each of the 8 teams will be owned by the league, so there won't be any franchises.

Both leagues seem very promising in my estimation. I think the AAF sounds cooler because it seems like they are taking the league more serious than any other startup football league I've seen with the shear amount of football guys, planning, and vision that they have. But, we also don't know much about what the XFL's plans are yet, so my opinion might change once more information comes out. I do believe that this XFL will be 100 times more successful than the original in 2001 that was pretty much WWE on the football field. Overall, I'm very much looking forward to watching the AAF and XFL and seeing what each league has to offer when there is no NFL for me to watch in the winter and spring. Welcome to professional football AAF and XFL!

-Captain Locy


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