Vince McMahon’s XFL reboot is set to get some competition.
Charlie Ebersol, who directed ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary about the XFL’s first run, which was led by his father Dick in conjunction with McMahon, has a start-up football league that will kick off in February 2019 (after Super Bowl LIII) that pretty much seems to be in direct competition with McMahon’s XFL outfit.
Darren Rovell’s report at ESPN lists some names who have their hands in the Alliance of American Football that NFL fans will be familiar with. Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian helped in overseeing the league, while Pittsburgh Steelers legends Hines Ward and Troy Polumalu, as well as former New York Giants standout Justin Tuck are among the former NFL players who will be involved in some capacity.
The eight-team league will have 50 players, play 10 games, and have some twists. Kicking will take a back seat in this league. Touchdowns will be followed by two-point conversion attempts instead PATs. Kickoffs have been eliminated, leading each team to start its offensive possessions at its own 25-yard-line. And in lieu of an onside kick, teams that want to retain possession will get one play from its own 35 to gain 10 yards. Frankly, I’m surprised the NFL didn’t come up with that before as it essentially simulates a 4th-and-10 situation in a high-leverage spot.
And from a viewing perspective, you can say goodbye to TV timeouts that make games drag longer than anyone would like.
Ebersol hopes to create a talent pool from high-level college players who don’t make it to the NFL, citing how just 1,700 of the 28,000 Division I college football players end up in the league.
“We’re looking for those Kurt Warners working in grocery stores and we think we will find them,” Ebersol said.
Unlike the XFL, which didn’t share much of a plan (at least not publicly) beyond the 2020 estimated launch date, Ebersol’s league will have games played on CBS Sports Network and the championship bout played on CBS. It will also have some heavy financial backing from ex-Bears linebacker/defensive end Jared Allen, Peter Thiel, and The Chernin Group, whose investments include The Athletic and Barstool Sports.