The XFL just might work this time.
At least that’s what league founder and WWE owner Vince McMahon is hoping. For spring football to truly succeed, you need stars to give people a reason to watch on television and you need a good television deal.
Check one of those boxes already for the league’s new TV deal. And the second box might be checked soon, too.
Dan Greene, from SI.com, wrote a terrific piece on XFL commissioner Oliver Luck. In the article, Luck revealed he ran into Tim Tebow at the Clemson-Alabama national championship game. During that encounter, Luck took the opportunity to find out whether or not playing professional football (in the XFL) would interest the Broncos 2010 first-round pick. Tebow insisted that his focus was on baseball, but that may not be the case if his play doesn’t improve in the minor leagues.
Love him or hate him, Tebow would get a ton of people to watch the XFL.
In that same category would be former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. According to the SI article, Luck did reach out to Kaepernick’s agent, but the veteran wanted a $20 million contract – something the XFL deemed too rich at this time.
There’s also Johnny Manziel floating around out there. Even though McMahon said the XFL would not take players with criminal backgrounds, they might change their mind for Manziel. A first-round pick of the Browns in the 2014 NFL Draft, Manziel played in the CFL and the AAF this past season. His road back to the NFL seems impossible, but he could be an attraction for the XFL.
Perhaps Former Stars and Future Stars?
Did you know that Clemson superstar quarterback Trevor Lawrence could play in the XFL before he plays in the NFL?
The NFL has a rule that a player must be three years removed from high school before they are eligible to play professionally. That means Lawrence would not be available to select in the NFL draft until 2021. A freshman in 2018, Lawrence won the national title during his first season with the Tigers and is seen as the next “can’t miss” prospect at quarterback; think Andrew Luck when he came out of Stanford in 2012.
Lawrence wouldn’t have to wait as long to play in the XFL.
Things kick off in 2020 for the XFL and getting a superstar talent like Lawrence for their debut season would be quite the coup. Lawrence could play in the XFL for one season, make millions instead of nothing playing for Clemson, then jump to the NFL and make even more money.
The USFL was able to have a bit of success in the 1980s because they were able to outbid the NFL for stars like Jim Kelly, Reggie White and Herschel Walker. The XFL may not be able to outbid the NFL at this point, but they can beat them to the punch when freshmen or sophomore college football stars want to make that jump to the professional ranks.
It’s doubtful that Lawrence plays in the XFL, but it would certainly get people to watch if he did.
TV is King
On Monday, the details of the XFL’s TV deal were released – and they sent shock waves through football fans and those who cover the league.
The XFL is partnering with Fox and ESPN, and will have games on broadcast networks and cable through ABC, Fox, ESPN and FS1. Every XFL game will be televised, with Saturday afternoon games mostly on ABC and Fox. Sunday games will mostly be featured on ESPN and FS1. They even have two Thursday night games toward the latter part of their season on primetime. A whopping 24 of 43 games will be on broadcast television when the league kicks off in 2020.
The XFL will have a much better TV audience than the now-defunct Alliance of American Football, and that could lead to sustained success – something no spring football league has ever really had.
Will You Watch?
Everyone knows that I’m a football junkie, and there is no question that I will watch the XFL in 2020. In fact, I have every game for the first and only season of the XFL from back in 2001.
I watched every game televised in the AAF for talent that could make the jump to the NFL. Quite a few players stood out and are now on NFL rosters. The XFL would be attractive to me for the same reason.
What about you? Will you watch the XFL? Would you be more inclined to watch if guys like Tebow, Kaepernick, Manziel or Lawrence were playing quarterback?
Let us know what you think on Facebook and Twitter.
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