Long before the XFL hit the reset button after being dormant since 2001, I was positive it would not only start the 2020 season, but finish it.
With millions of wrestling mogul Vince McMahon’s dollars behind it, the business model was solid.
But as we’ve learned over the last few days, a pandemic doesn’t care about your finances – or your plans. If it wants to stop you in your tracks, it can and will.
Thus on Thursday the XFL joined most other sports organizations in either shutting down, suspending or postponing its various competitions. And with half its season done – and the effects of COVID-19 expected to get worse before they get better – the only logical decision was to close up shop.
Here’s the statement issued by the league:
Currently, the XFL will not be playing its regular-season games. However, all players will be paid their base pay and benefits for the 2020 regular season. All XFL ticket holders will be issued refunds or credit toward future games. The XFL is committed to playing a full season in 2021 and future years.
Kudos to the circuit for not leaving its players and coaches high and dry. Hopefully it’ll do the same for all the support personnel who were counting on a paycheck for at least another month and a half.
June Jones, head coach of the league-leading and 5-0 Houston Roughnecks, held out hope his team could actually still play for an XFL championship this year.
“I feel very comfortable that we’re going to play next year and the league has told us it’s just suspending the regular season games right now, so that means there might still be a playoff,” Jones told Mark Berman, sports director of Fox 26 in Houston, on Friday. “I don’t think anybody knows what the world is gonna look like in five or six weeks.”
With XFL players now eligible to sign with any other league, a postseason scenario seems highly unlikely.
But while XFL 2.0 ended with five regular season games left in its comeback season, it’s important to note that it didn’t fold. And the good news is that the XFL proved to be an entertaining addition to the late winter/early spring sports lineup. Yes, TV ratings and in-game attendance were declining, but not to the degree that would raise a bunch of red flags.
It provided a showcase for quarterbacks like P.J. Walker (Houston) and Jordan Ta’amu (St.Louis), who parlayed strong performances into possible NFL roster spots.
Same is true for wideout Cam Phillips (Houston), linebacker Steven Johnson (Seattle), defensive tackle Cavon Walker (New York), and a host of other athletes who made the most of the second chance they received in the XFL.
The league’s mantra is “For The Love of Football” and certainly there’s that for these guys, but the love of powering up to the next level is why so many good players stocked XFL rosters.
As a fan of alternative football, I also liked the rule innovations. I think the non-collision kickoffs are an effective way to lessen the possibility of head injuries while still keeping the play in the game.
And the 3-point conversion is gimmicky, but it’s a good gimmick.
The fact that a team down by nine points is theoretically still in a one-possession game is pretty cool.
But now the XFL has 11 months before it’ll kick off again. I feel confident it will, indeed, return, but since it’s a single entity model I assume there could be some changes for 2021.
While the season didn’t finish, McMahon and company saw enough to know where the XFL was a hit and miss.
Maybe all eight original clubs will line up again next February, but one or two relocations wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Whatever the case, the XFL had little choice but to err on the side of caution and end the 2020 campaign early.
That’s disappointing for all of its stakeholders, of course, but XFL 2020 didn’t fail.
That, in itself, is a victory.