So the XFL starts tomorrow! Are you ready to play the game of “Oh hey, I remember him!”? This year we might even be remembering these guys from the AAF!

If that surprised you don’t worry, it surprised me too. The XFL has gotten a fair amount of press for returning, but I’ve seen remarkably little information on the actual season. I feel like they failed at the marketing this go-round, which was arguably the only thing they got right last time. But yeah, the XFL returns this weekend. We technically don’t have to miss football this week!

To get my first opinion out of the way, starting this early in the year was a huge mistake. The Super Bowl is the biggest game of the year and I genuinely don’t need more football for a while after it ends. It actually feels like a nice release. I certainly don’t need worse football. It feels like following up a porterhouse at the best steak house in town with an Applebees appetizer. Give us a little time to actually miss football first. Giving us this new league so soon is a great way to highlight how sub-par the play will be in comparison.

I’m also not thrilled by the teams. One of the novelties of the original XFL was how far they allowed the gimmick. The team names were outrageous. The colors were garish. It wasn’t a gimmick meant to last but it had personality. These new teams do not. Nothing about this feels Xtreme. Nothing here feels like it would be out of place in the AAF, which was trying to appear classy and professional in the NFL style. I actually think the XFL’s branding history and the new toned down look clash with each other. So this is two marks against it in my book.

When it comes to teams, I suppose I have to be a Seattle Dragons fan due to proximity, but I’ll be honest the St. Louis Battlehawks are the only team that looks cool and feels like it lives up to billing. The rest of the names and branding is fairly generic. The Houston Roughnecks logo is just ripping off the Oilers logo. Most of the uniforms are pretty gross, the best ones of the bunch being the least risky ones (I like St. Louis and DC the best). The Vipers are just discount Oregon uniforms. The Seattle Dragons, outside having a kind of neat helmet decal style, look atrocious to me. The LA Wildcats at least have the kind of look I was hoping for from the XFL. Everything is just trapped in this depressing in-between of the XFL of old and attempting to be legit NFL fakers.

Do I think this league has a chance? I do not. Spring football has a 100% failure rate. As much as I like the idea of spring football, in practice it has not held my interest, even when I willingly invested myself like I did for the AAF. I found Arena football largely unwatchable.

I think it’ll last longer than the AAF did. Swole Granddad McMahon at least has experience in this field and appears to be taking a better long-term approach than last time. There appears to be effort going into the actual product instead of just marketing and assuming wrestling fans will just automatically fuel the revenue. I have no doubt the actual on-field play will be AAF levels of passable. If I took away anything from the AAF, it was the value of professional broadcasts. Even the mediocrity that league offered was pretty watchable when you caught a game on CBS with real production value. If McMahon can keep his games getting at least one quality broadcast team, it’ll go a long way to making this watchable long-term.

What I am most interested to see is how the rule changes affect the game. Here’s a rundown for anyone interested, but I want to highlight the parts that really interest me:
-Kickoffs feature both teams lining up on the return side of the field, but can only move once the ball has been caught or has bounced for 3 seconds. They are attempting to reduce high speed collisions but still encourage runbacks. I’m very intrigued to see this, because kickoffs are a sore spot in the NFL game right now.
-No PAT kicks. Teams can go for 1, 2, or 3 extra points by running a single play from the 2, 5, or 10 yard line. You could get 9 points per score this way, and this kinda rules.
-Touchbacks seem to be placed at the 35 yd line, trying to dis-incentivize them in any way.
-Multiple forward passes are allowed as long as they all happen behind the LOS
-Overtime is more of a shootout than more play.
-The clock will stop after every play inside the two minute warning
-The clock will not stop for incompletes or out of bounds before the two minute warning, speeding the game up
-There is an all-powerful replay god who can make every ruling on every play from his skybox
-There is an official dedicated to ball spotting (spot them balls)

I’ll likely catch some of it this weekend out of curiosity but I’m not terribly excited. I might make more comics if it gets interesting. Let me know what you guys think.