XFL announces Washington franchise as part of league revival
The XFL is coming to the nation’s capital.
Washington was awarded one of eight franchises for the revival of the XFL, Vince McMahon’s alternative professional football league that is planning a comeback. Washington’s team will play its home games at Audi Field, D.C. United’s new stadium near Nationals Park.
The new XFL will launch its inaugural season in February 2020. McMahon, the owner and chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, announced plans to revive the league last January.
The other franchises will be located in New York/New Jersey, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Seattle and Tampa. Team nicknames were not announced. All eight franchises will be owned by McMahon’s company, Alpha Entertainment, in a single-entity format.
The announcement came Wednesday in a live-streamed press conference from East Rutherford, New Jersey. It featured Erik Moses, senior vice president and managing director of Events DC, speaking on behalf of the District.
“Washington, D.C. as our mayor would say, the sports capital of the United States is ready for the XFL, and we can’t wait for the inaugural season to get started,” Moses said.
The Washington region did not have a franchise in the original XFL.
McMahon previously announced the teams will play a 10-game season, with a four-team playoff.
The XFL played its lone season in 2001 before folding. It was famous for personalities like Rod “He Hate Me” Smart and the combination of football with elements of professional wrestling though that will not be the case in the new XFL. McMahon has expressed a desire for the league to focus on football and disallow political statements a la Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling.
Football executive Oliver Luck is the league’s commissioner and CEO. Luck has served as the athletic director at West Virginia and an original member of the College Football Playoff Committee.
Luck,father of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, handled most of the announcement and spoke about the league’s efforts to design a faster-paced version of football, with fewer timeouts and more “meaningful action.”
“We held a series of meetings and discussed ways we can take the game that we all love and modify it, tweak it enough so that it’s familiar yet distinctive,” Luck said.
Luck said teams will begin signing quarterbacks and “other impact players” in the first quarter of 2019. The XFL will target players who are cut from 90-man NFL rosters at the end of training camp and have its first supplemental draft in the early fall of 2019.
The reports of the death of football were greatly exaggerated, as the XFL is joining a handful of other secondary leagues like the Alliance of American Football, Pacific Pro Football and the Arena Football League entering the pro football market. The NFL’s ratings have gone back up in 2018, but the XFL and others are looking to attract fans with games during the NFL offseason.