In 2001, WWE chief executive Vince McMahon decided to take on the NFL.
It seemed like a crazy idea at the time, since the NFL is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world.
While McMahon deserved credit for trying to provide an alternative type of football to fans, the experiment was short-lived.
The league ceased operations after its inaugural season, and it seemed like that would be the end of the experiment.
However, McMahon wouldn’t let the dream die, and took steps to bring the defunct league back to life.
In 2020, the XFL 2.0 was launched, with former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck as the league’s commissioner.
There was a chance that this iteration could get off the ground more effectively than its predecessor roughly two decades earlier, but the revival was cut down prematurely by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though the XFL ran into horrible circumstances with the pandemic, it probably wasn’t going to make a dent in the overall football market share equation against the NFL.
Here are a few reasons why the upstart league won’t gain traction.
Lack Of Talent
With all due respect to the players who suited up for the second version of the XFL, their ability compared to the guys in the NFL is night and day.
During the abridged XFL season, we witnessed players who were on practice squads and strictly on special teams put up big numbers.
Against the cream of the crop in the NFL, these same players wouldn’t even see the field.
The product looks passable on TV because all of the guys are relatively on the same talent level, but it’s a standard that won’t ever eclipse what we have come to know and love with the NFL.
To put it simply, players in the XFL would sacrifice anything to play in the NFL, but it would never work the other way around.
We’ve Seen This Movie Before
There have been quite a few leagues that have tried to provide football alternatives that didn’t perfectly overlap with the NFL.
None of them have ever taken off.
In the mid 1980s, the USFL was started in hopes of cherry-picking big name players away from the NFL.
However, it didn’t last, as the USFL was not profitable and tried to have its schedule completely overlap with the NFL.
We’ve seen Arena League football and the Canadian Football League serve as a respectable development ground for players who want to continue playing the game they love.
— XFL 🏉 (@realXFLfootball) July 7, 2021
But neither of those outfits has ever come close to garnering the attention the NFL has, and the XFL is unlikely to be any different.
The NFL Has Just Made A Power Move
As if the almighty NFL couldn’t cement its pole position any more concretely, the league just made a decision that will make it even more difficult for competitors to gain traction.
Since the NFL has moved to a 17-game regular season schedule, their influence over the fall and winter calendar just got that much more definitive.
While the casual fan might say that one game is not going to make that much of a difference, this change pushes the Super Bowl back to mid-February now.
NFL interest usually starts to pick up in the closing weeks of July, as teams report to training camp, and fans look into who they’ll draft for season-long fantasy.
That gives the XFL, or any other competitor, from the end of February to the middle of July to make a dent.
— XFL 🏉 (@realXFLfootball) March 10, 2021
There are other notable events on the sports calendar during that time, such as the NBA playoffs, March Madness, and in certain years, the Olympics and World Cup.
It’s hard to envision someone coming up with a product that will attract enough viewers with all that competing noise.