XFL Round 2

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Here we go again.

The XFL has decided to make a comeback after a 19-year hiatus. The rules have been tweaked, the markets are a little different (No Las Vegas Outlaws this time around) and less wrestling shtick and more football. Or so Vince McMahon says.

Do you believe him? Will you watch? Will you bet?

I’m guessing some of you will watch the XFL. The games are on ESPN and FOX. It’ll give you your football fix. Some of you will bet for the same reason, to have some action, though there are a few individuals out there who will try and make real money betting the XFL, even if the limits figure to be relatively low.

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But will it make it this time around? Will it go beyond a year? Will it even make it through the full inaugural season?

The Alliance of American Football had a lot of the same components as the XFL. It had recognizable players and coaches. It had a national TV deal. You could bet on it in Las Vegas and other jurisdictions like New Jersey.

What happened? The undercapitalized Alliance was done in less than a year and yet another football venture was laid to rest. It joined the World Football League, the USFL, the World League of American Football/NFL Europe, the United Football League and Arena Football as failed ventures.

This concept of post-Super Bowl football has been tried for decades. Some markets embrace it. Others would just as soon not be subjected to it in their communities. TV sees it as relatively inexpensive programming and if viewers tune in for an hour or two, they’re happy. Same for advertisers who buy time on the networks. They’re banking on you watching, even if the football being played is second- or third-rate quality.

You’re smart enough to know there’s no Patrick Mahomes playing in the XFL. A couple of weeks ago, I went through every XFL roster, all eight of them, looking for recognizable names. I found a handful of players, one being a kicker (Nick Novak), that I didn’t need to Google. The coaches, I knew more of. I’m familiar with June Jones. I know who Marc Trestman is. I’ve heard of Bob Stoops. I watched Jim Zorn play quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.

But I’m sorry, I don’t know Pep Hamilton, the head coach of the DC Defenders, from Bep Guidolin. Who’s Bep Guidolin you ask? He’s an old hockey coach from the 1970s who was the coach of the Kansas City Scouts, better known today as the New Jersey Devils.

You know the line, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard?” Do yourself a favor, if you intend to watch this, go to the league’s website, XFL.com, and download the rosters so you know who the hell is playing.

Of course, how many of you will bother to watch will be interesting to see. Consumer marketing research company Piplsay.com did a survey last month of 32,677 Americans about their thoughts on the return of the XFL. Of those surveyed, 45 percent said they are excited about the XFL with 60 percent of that 45 percent being Millennials.

However, 42 percent of the total number surveyed were not aware of the XFL’s teams and its players. And when asked if they thought the XFL was a challenge to the NFL, 38 percent said yes though only 10 percent of that 38 percent said it would be to a large extent.

So there ares some mixed messages here amid the data. My advice to those people? Take a history lesson and go to Wikipedia and search for “Failed Professional Football Leagues.” Then reach back out to Piplsay and ask for a mulligan for your response.

Me? I may try to catch a snippet or two this weekend as the XFL re-launches. It’ll be out of curiosity more than anything else. I saw the first iteration of the XFL in 2001 at Sam Boyd Stadium and it was entertaining. But the USFL was really good. Ditto the UFL and WFL.

I doubt this will be the quality of those leagues. For some of you, bad football is better than no football. So by all means, enjoy the return of the XFL. I’m sure there’ll be some interesting moments while it lasts.

There’s plenty of hoops, both college and pro, to keep me entertained, not to mention hockey, until baseball starts up in late March. I can afford to wait until September for the NFL season.

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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