According to the XFL website, the XFL is a brand new, fan-first league that's reimagining the game of football and offering fans an opportunity to experience more action, access, and fun. The league has eight teams from St. Louis, Seattle, Arlington, Houston, San Antonio, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, and Orlando.
The league takes its fan-first approach very seriously. Unlike the NFL and College Football, the XFL prioritizes social listening when determining how the game is played. An example of this is making their overtime rules comparative to College Football's overtime rules, and there is no way that the games can end in a tie. Instituting this rule is something fans have been asking for in the NFL, but they have never taken the steps necessary to make the change. But, again, this is just one example.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Redbird Capital acquired the XFL's parent company, Alpha Entertainment, for $15 million in 2020 after the league's first season back on the scene. With their fan-first approach and big names like Dwayne Jobson and Dany Garcia, it will likely take no time for the two to make their money back. This league's success will be comparable to the Savannah Bananas with their fan-first approach.
Attendance numbers at XFL games are comparable to a successful FCS team or a small FBS team averaging just over 18,000 attendees per game and ranging from just over 12,000 attendees to over 29,000 attendees in 2020.
Ticket prices are affordable compared to NFL games averaging $20-$30. The lowest average ticket price for a team in the NFL in 2021 was $80.
Playing in the XFL is a good gig for football players trying to make their way into the NFL. The base salary for an XFL player is $59,000 a year, with additional benefits, including housing, healthcare, and meals. Of course, it's not the NFL, but that's a good salary and benefits for anybody, especially when your job is to play the game you love.
As mentioned, I believe the XFL's success will be comparable to the Savannah Bananas because of their fan-first approach. Fans will have more opportunities to interact with their favorite players and have a more up close and personal experience at the games.
For a football league outside of the NFL, the quality of the athletes in the league is top-notch. A bunch of FBS athletes didn't quite make the cut for the NFL but are talented enough that their football careers deserve to be prolonged make up a vast majority of the league, but another large percentage of the league's athletes also come from the FCS, Division II, Division III, and former NFL athletes.
The reason many different divisions are represented in the XFL is a major reason that I am interested in the XFL. I graduated from Western Carolina University, which participates in the FCS division. Unfortunately, Western has few football players that make it to the NFL. Since the turn of the century, only one Catamount has been drafted. That athlete is Keion Crossen, who the New England Patriots drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 draft.
There have been three other Catamounts that have found their way into the league since 2000. One of those had a very successful NFL career that many Carolina Panther fans know, Brad Hoover. Then, Detrez Newsome, the star running back for the Catamounts from 2014-2017, found his way with the LA Chargers in 2018. Last but not least, there is John Brannon, who also found his way to the LA Chargers and, according to his Instagram (@PrinceJohnB15), spent some time with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Carolina Panthers.
Now, Brannon is who initially got me looking into the XFL. While attending Western Carolina, Brannon was in many of my Sport Management classes, and we often worked on group projects with one another. I had not kept up with Brannon after his rookie season until I saw Western's football team posted a reel of Brannon playing for an XFL team.
This year, he will play for the Houston Roughnecks. This irked my soul because I do not root for teams based in Texas. I hate the Dallas Cowboys. I hate the Texas Longhorns. I hate the Houston Astros. I hate the Houston Rockets. Finally, and most importantly, my wife is from Oklahoma and has groomed me into believing that Texas is the worst state known to humanity besides California.
I have to have some school pride. Keion, who is now with the Miami Dolphins, is unfortunately out of the NFL playoffs. So that turns my focus to Brannon and the Houston Roughnecks, an excellent name choice for a team out of Texas.
The XFL season begins on February 18th, and Brannon and the Houston Roughnecks will take on the Orlando Guardians.
If you would like to keep up with more XFL content this season, follow Ok Listen Here on Facebook! We will continue to keep up with the Roughnecks and Brannon as the season unfolds!