Morning, and welcome back to football season! Boy, that was a tough six days, wasn’t it? Seems like forever ago that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, but football is BACK, baby!
Oh, sure, it's the XFL, and not the NFL, but football’s football, am I right? As you well know, in a thrilling Week One, the Guardians defeated the Vipers, the Warlords upset the Hyenas, the Battlehawks knocked off the Renegades. And if you know where any of those teams are from — or if you caught that I just flat-out made two of them up — you, my friend, qualify as an XFL expert.
The XFL drew about 3.3 million viewers to its inaugural Saturday games. Granted, that’s probably less than the numbers that a webcam pointed at an empty NFL stadium would draw, but it’s also a total that would make NASCAR, golf, tennis and MMA drool with envy.
What those 3.3 million fans saw this weekend was a stark departure from the XFL’s earlier incarnation. Gone were the over-the-top bleed-for-it attitude and the cheerleaders that made last week’s halftime show look like church bingo night. In was some relatively decent fundamental football, spiced up with a few special-teams rules changes and the added challenge of going for one, two or three points after a touchdown. (I just realized: We can't make any more Andy Reid confused-coach jokes! Ah, well.)
I’d run down the XFL Week 1 scores, but let’s be honest, neither of us really cares about all that. Fans who tuned in saw rosters dotted with I-remember-that-guy guys like Cardale Jones and Aaron Murray, and scouts have said that as many as 20 percent of XFL players could be fringe NFL talents. The league seems determined to put football ahead of showmanship, and for a football-mad nation like ours, it could be a nice little distraction from yardwork/weekend nap aid as spring rolls around.
Of course, the real question isn’t how well the XFL did this week, but how well it’ll do next week. Everybody wants to tune in to see the debut of the Chupacabras, or whatever, but the true test is whether they’ll tune in to a late-season slog involving two teams with exactly 43 days' worth of fan loyalty.
I’d offer a prediction on the league’s future but, much like any of the degenerates who bet on the XFL this weekend, I don’t have a clue how this is all going to turn out. But I’m of the opinion that more sports are always better, and if nothing else, the XFL will make for some fun conversation until the NFL draft talk kicks in soon.
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