Nobody knows how the XFL is going to fare in its second attempt at establishing a successful pro football league, but they appear to already have some fans who are crushing it on social media.
A popular XFL fan account threw a fantastic zing at the New York Jets following their loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. It was actually an insult to the XFL on some level, but it was perfectly timed.
Congratulations to the Miami Dolphins for their first victory of the season.
We’d say something snarky about the Jets, but some of those guys may be playing for us in a few months. #XFL2020
— XFL (@realXFLfootball) November 3, 2019
The XFL was a colossal failure nearly 20 years ago, but founder Vince McMahon is confident things will be different this time around. While we have seen some red flags about the league with just over three months to go until kickoff, fans can always bond over ripping on the Jets.
With how bad both the Dolphins and Jets have looked this year, we may actually see some players from their rosters playing in the XFL in the future.
Former Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Corey Vereen, who was selected by the Los Angeles Wildcats in the 2019 XFL Draft, is dropping out of the league over a salary dispute.
Vereen’s representation says the defensive end feels “misled” over the league’s salary structure, taking issue with the contractual bonuses and the tiers that would need to be reached in order for him to earn the advertised average salary of $55,000.
Logan Brown Sports says, after dissecting the contracts, that the XFL offers a base salary of just $27,040 with the remaining $27,960 coming via active gameday bonuses and overall team wins.
After careful consideration, @meanvereen has decided to forgo his @xfl2020 opportunity. Corey has stayed in great shape for his next football opportunity. Unfortunately that opportunity will not be in the XFL with the current pay scale. We wish the @XFLWildcats the best of luck! pic.twitter.com/CVF1Ugcv0x
— Logan Brown Sports (@LBSAgent) October 23, 2019
With the NFL minimum set at $495,000, XFL players are earning substantially less. Even in comparison to the now defunct AFL, the XFL falls well short — the AFL offered players non-guaranteed three-year deals worth upwards of $250,000.
Of course, the XFL offers a professional option for players who currently find themselves outside of the NFL looking in. And like the AFL, will at least provide the opportunity to put film on tape and potentially earn an NFL contract.
Although Vereen has decided to opt out for now, he and his representation left the door open for an XFL return in the event they alter their salary structure.
The XFL officially announced their 2020 schedule on Tuesday, and they’re not even going to let the dust settle following the conclusion of the NFL league year to get things underway.
Less than one week after Super Bowl LIV, which will be played on Sunday, February 2, the XFL will kick off with a game between the DC Defenders and the Seattle Dragons on Saturday, February 8 at 2:00 p.m. ET on ABC.
That Saturday will feature a split double-header with FOX airing a game between the Los Angeles Wildcats and Houston Roughnecks at 5:00 p.m. ET.
The 10-week regular season will play out over the course of 79 days with the top two teams in each of the two four-team divisions then going to the playoffs. The East Final will be played on Saturday, April 18 at 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX, while the West Final will be played on Sunday, April 19 at 3:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The XFL Championship Game will be played on Sunday, April 26 at 3:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The XFL is still in the process of hiring coaches and executives, and former Green Bay Packers assistant coach Winston Moss is the latest to join the league.
Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that Winston, who was a linebackers coach for the Packers for 13 seasons before being fired in December, is set to be named the head coach and general manager of the XFL’s team in Los Angeles.
Moss has interviewed for several NFL head coaching jobs and was a finalist for the Detroit Lions job before they gave it to Matt Patricia. He’s an experienced coach who has ties to the LA area, as he played for the Los Angeles Raiders from 1991-1994.
Moss lost his job with the Packers after they decided to move on from Mike McCarthy. He was fired the same day he sent a tweet about Aaron Rodgers needing to be held more accountable.
The XFL is scheduled to begin play on Feb. 8, 2020.
The XFL is proceeding with business as usual despite the Alliance of American Football failing almost instantly, and another head coach appears to have accepted a job with Vince McMahon’s league.
According to Martin Kilcoyne of 590 The Fan in St. Louis, the XFL’s St. Louis franchise is expected to hire former Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes to be its head coach.
Strong indication that the XFL coach for St. Louis will be Jonathan Hayes.
Former #Bengals assistant coach. Also former #NFL Tight End for Chiefs and Steelers. Sidenote, his son Jaxson is gonna be Top 10 NBA pick this summer.
— Martin Kilcoyne (@martinkilcoyne2) April 17, 2019
The XFL has already made some big splashes with head coaching and general manager hires, and Hayes should bring plenty of experience to the league. He’s a former NFL tight end who had been with the Bengals as an assistant coach since 2003 prior to being let go earlier this year.
While many view the AAF’s shortcomings as an ominous sign for the XFL, the league remains confident in its own revival.
The XFL is undeterred by the failure of the AAF.
The XFL is set for a revival and plans to begin play next year. This will come a year after the AAF debuted and cancelled its season after eight weeks.
Though the AAF’s first-year fate seems to be an ominous sign for the XFL, the Vince McMahon-backed league does not sound worried.
“We have said all along the success or failure of other leagues will have no impact on our ability to deliver high-quality, fast-paced, professional football,” the XFL said in a statement via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal. “The XFL is well-funded, we have time before kick-off to execute our business plan, and we will soon announce a national broadcast and cable TV schedule that makes it easy for fans to find our games consistently every weekend when we launch next February. There is no doubt that avid football fans want more and we’re excited to get going in 2020.”
One big difference between the XFL and AAF is that the XFL will have teams in major markets with existing NFL teams, compared to the AAF, which placed many teams in cities without an NFL team.
The AAF cancelling play for the 2019 season likely comes down to a business strategy by its majority owner, who is seeking to have a developmental relationship with the NFL.
Was some negative press about the AAF this week the product of a smear campaign from a rival upstart league? That’s what one coach will have you believe.
Rick Neuheisel, the head coach of the AAF’s Arizona Hotshots, said in comments shared by Arizona Family’s Mark McClune this week that the rumor might have been started by the XFL.
“This is a competitive environment we live in,” Neuheisel said on Tuesday. “There are other people out there that are trying to get a new league a year from now that are trying to try and create some negative publicity. But the good news is there’s an investor who just dropped $250 million. You have to imagine he did his due diligence.”
Was @TheAAF in financial trouble?
Was it a smear campaign by the @xfl2020 ?
— Mark McClune (@MarkMcClune) February 20, 2019
A report on Monday from The Athletic said the AAF needed a $250 million cash infusion from Carolina Hurricanes majority owner Tom Dundon in order to meet payroll obligations. Dundon has been named the league’s new chairman of the board of directors. AAF founder Charlie Ebersol says that Dundon saw how positive the reviews of the league were that he wanted to buy in.
Here’s how Ebersol explained Dundon’s investment.
“We are a start-up, and start-ups usually raise money in pieces — there’s a Series A piece, Series B, Series C, etc. After the success of the first week, we had a number of investors come to us and offer us all kinds of different investments. Tom Dundon showed up and said, ‘Do you want to continue to raise Series B, Series C and Series D or do you want to raise Series Infinity right now and be taken care of from now on.’ That was an offer I was not going to refuse,” Ebersol told the Orlando Sentinel.
It’s tough to say what to make of this. On one hand, it’s hard to imagine the league would have launched knowing they would have this much difficulty making payroll so soon. On the other, it’s possible that ticket revenues came in far below projections, causing some urgency to take on a new investor, which may seems to have been part of the plan all along.
The XFL is set to launch next year in what will be the reincarnation of the league. The AAF just completed its second week of games in its inaugural season.
H/T Barstool Sports