Site last updated: Saturday, June 3, 2023

Log In

Reset Password
Butler County's great daily newspaper

New XFL far from a joke

It is way too soon to determine if the XFL is here to stay.

One thing is certain. This new version of the league — which made its debut last weekend — is no comparison to the previous XFL, which lasted only one season under professional wrestling innovator Vince McMahon.

McMahon was too wild with his ideas and the league was took hokey for fans to digest. And while the old XFL gave the Steelers a successful quarterback in Tommy Maddox for a spell, it produced little else.

But the league’s rebirth — under the leadership of former WWE wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — is much more intriguing. Johnson played college football at Miami (Fla.) and respects football too much to make a mockery of it.

And fans seem to be appreciating his product.

More than 61,000 people attended the XFL’s four-game opening weekend. The league’s TV ratings weren’t bad. Some of its rules, well, the NFL would be wise to look at.

Kickoffs are set up in a way that virtually guarantees kick returns without the violent collisions. PATS can be worth one, two or three points — running plays from the 2, 5 and 10-yard lines, respectively — and can keep teams in games longer. Instead of an onside kick in the fourth quarter, a team may elect to run a 4th-and-15 play from its own 25-yard line.

Get the first down, keep possession.

Four of the first five XFL games have been decided by four points or fewer. One team rallied from a 12-point deficit with 1:30 remaining to win in regulation, making a 3-point PAT and converting the 4th-and-15 to fuel the comeback.

The coaching is legitimate. Familiar football names including Bob Stoops, Wade Phillips, Jim Haslett, Rod Woodson and Hines Ward are running teams. June Jones and Bruce Gradkowski are offensive coordinators.

Former standout NFL receivers Josh Gordon and Martavis Bryant are in the league, trying to find their way back to the NFL. The same can be said for quarterbacks Ben DiNucci and A.J. McCarron.

Slippery Rock University graduate Cinque Sweeting is a wide receiver for Woodson’s Vegas team, proving that players from smaller colleges have an opportunity to further their football careers and show they have what it takes to play professionally.

Other players from The Rock and other PSAC schools in the region may follow suit.

With the USFL returning for its second season in April, spring football is gaining momentum. The quality of play in these leagues further demonstrates the wealth of talented football players we have in this country.

Some of these guys may prove to be good enough top reach the NFL. Others may extend their playing careers in the spring for a few years.

Either way, it’s football. It’s a good thing.

John Enrietto is sports editor of the Butler Eagle

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

* indicates required