The NFL season ends in two weeks, with the Super Bowl as their finale. In prior years, that would leave a gap of seven months until the first professional football game in September, but that’s not the case any longer. When the Super Bowl ends around 730pm on 2/12/23, you’ll have less than a week until you can watch another game.
You may recall seeing an XFL game or two in 2020 and wondering what happened to that league with the fun rules that made even watching backup players fun? Well, it’s coming back in 2023, with the first games kicking off on February 18th.
If you’re already a fan of Seattle sports teams, there is an XFL team in Seattle – the Sea Dragons, and they even play their games at Lumen Field. You’ll find you’ve heard of most of the players and were curious to see them playing full-time, and now you can. Seattle’s first game is the showcase game on Sunday night, 2/19/23, at 5pm.
After playing out their final games in college, many football players struggle to crack NFL rosters and either give up football or sit on a practice squad somewhere or look at playing up north in Canada. The emergence of leagues like the XFL allows these players to hone their skills and get visibility to an audience of fans and scouts. Many players that started in the XFL in 2020 found spots on NFL rosters the same year.
But this isn’t just a league where players practice in front of a camera; this is a fun league with unique rules that makes watching a game unique. For those familiar with what the AFL was like before it merged with the NFL, this is the second coming of that league with one main difference. They have no public intention of competing with the NFL. They want to be their own thing.
The most exciting part is that there are no kicks after a touchdown – ever. Once a touchdown is scored, the team can opt to try for one point from the two-yard line, two points from the five-yard line, or three points from the ten-yard line, which makes the play after the touchdown potentially as exciting as the touchdown play. One team can score nine points on just a single possession.
There is also the double forward pass – in the NFL, only a player with the ball behind the line of scrimmage may throw a pass, and if they pass to another player, that player cannot throw it. In the XFL, the rules allow a second player to receive a pass behind the line of scrimmage and then throw it to another player. This may only be done while the ball is behind the line of scrimmage. Once it crosses, no forward passes may occur.
Overtime is similar to college rules, although instead of starting at the 25, they start at the 5. Each team gets three attempts to score, with each score counting for two points. If the teams are still tied after three tries each, they keep playing until there is a clear winner.
Games will move much quicker as the clock will not stop for incomplete passes or a player running out of bounds unless it is 2 min before the half or the end of the game. If a team is behind in points and wants to keep the ball after scoring in the 4th quarter, they can kick onside, or they can attempt to convert a 4th and 15 from their 25-yard line.
It’s still a football game, but with some creative concepts thrown in to help keep fans interested. The XFL tries to separate itself from the traditional sport, unlike the USFL, another semi-professional league. The major difference between the USFL and the NFL (other than talent) is that they only play in one of four locations despite having 8 teams in 8 different cities. Putting your teams on neutral fields throughout the season might sound great for a league looking to save money, but it’s not a great way to get local fans interested. The XFL also has eight teams, but each hosts games in their city.
If you live in Seattle or within driving distance, it’s not very expensive to go to games. A season pass of five home games starts at $145 per person. You might not be able to get tickets for one person to an NFL game for that, depending on who the opponent is.
I won’t lie to you and say the gameday product is the same as the NFL – it’s not. Not even close. But it would rival a lot of college games. If you are looking for more football, this is it. If you’re looking for competitive games with rules that favor entertainment over tradition, this is it. If you’re looking for something to watch on weekends that involves a contact sport, this is it.
The regular season runs from February 18th through April 23rd, with the playoffs running through May 13th.
It’s not the NFL. It’s the XFL. It’s not the same old football. It’s something new