Three days before the 2019 college football season’s soft launch and two weeks ahead of the NFL regular season, the XFL got a chance to grab a piece of the spotlight.
The rebooted league – set to kick off in February, 2020 – released its team nicknames and logos today in an effort to generate some buzz while fans are in a gridiron state of mind.
Taking the field for the inaugural campaign will be the Dallas Renegades, DC Defenders, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, New York Guardians, Seattle Dragons, St. Louis BattleHawks and Tampa Bay Vipers.
“The team names and logos were chosen exclusively to represent the spirit of football fans in their respective cities and signify fun and football – nothing more,” XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck said during the reveal.
In terms of creativity I’d have to give the nod to the BattleHawks, which is not a nickname you hear every day. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Wildcats is an extremely “meh” selection.
The Dragons logo is similar to that of the UAB Blazers (those of us who cheer for UAB notice such things), while the Renegades’ masked man is quite reminiscent of the Gotham Rogues logo from the fictional team in “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Design-wise I think my favorite is the Guardians, although it has a bit of a “Masters of the Universe” vibe.
That being said, packaging doesn’t mean a lot unless there’s a quality product inside, and that remains to be seen.
Unlike the ill-fated Alliance of American Football, which we now know banked on the hope of getting money instead of having actual money in the bank, the new XFL has a solid financial foundation.
League owner Vince McMahon has sunk $500 million into it (he cashed out a big chunk of his World Wrestling Entertainment holdings), which is reportedly enough to fund the league for its first three years.
So unless he gets a case of billionaire buyer’s remorse, he can prevent the XFL (a single entity business) from going the way of the AAF and folding before the first season is completed.
More importantly, the people associated with the league – coaches, players, team employees, etc. – can expect to get paid on time.
Bob Stoops was the first coach announced – he’ll guide the Renegades – and the rest of the sideline lineup features known commodities like June Jones and Marc Trestman.
And while rosters are obviously still in the works, the XFL is currently sending out “Commissioner’s Invitations” to top free agents.
Already the league has signed Landry Jones and is expected to add Ryan Mallett, both former college quarterback stars with several years of NFL experience. Getting guys like these is important because it shows the XFL is going after players talented enough to play in the NFL but who haven’t yet been able to crack the starting lineup.
And unlike the over the top, WWE-influenced XFL of 2001, this time the emphasis appears to be strictly on football. There will be some rule changes (reportedly one, two and three-point conversion options will follow touchdowns, for example) and that’s both expected and welcome. But the lowbrow gimmicks surrounding the game will be gone.
Of course while in nature spring is a time of renewal, the nature of spring football is to die and, in many cases, die quickly.
The USFL lasted three seasons, the original XFL was one-and-done, and the AAF closed up shop with still two weeks to go in its lone campaign.
Regardless of how first-rate this league looks – and so far, it does – surviving and thriving will defy all odds.
But for now, it’s mostly sunshine and rainbows for the new and improved XFL. Luck and company enter the traditional football season on a positive note, and get six months before they have to worry about hitting the right note with fans.