Are You Ready For Some (More) Football?
Greetings From The Booth!
Today (Feb 7) was my 20-year anniversary at The River 95-3/WZRV and it has been an unbelievably quick 20 years. In 2000, my friend, boss, and broadcast partner Mike O’Dell gave me safe harbor at The River 95-3 at a time when the seas of my career were a little rough. Part of this 20-year ride has included the opportunity to do sports, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid doing make believe play-by-play into a tape recorder. I live the dream every day doing my morning show and as the 20-year radio voice of Shenandoah University football.
Speaking of football, are you ready for some more? This weekend is the debut of Vince McMahon’s second version of the XFL. You might remember his ill-fated first try and the league’s most famous player, Rod Smart, who wore the name “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey. The product was unwatchable and the league was thrown together and presented with a WWE feel. The XFL lasted one season.
There are some differences this time around. McMahon has distanced this version of the XFL from his WWE empire by joining forces with Oliver Luck (a former WVU Mountaineer), who will be the league’s first commissioner. Games will be broadcast on ABC and Fox, and also on ESPN and FSN. A 10-game regular season schedule will give way to the playoffs, culminating in a league championship game April 26th.
Some differences on the field: on the kickoff, the coverage team will line up at the opposition’s 35 yard-line, just 5 yards away from the return team, while the kicker will kick off from his own 25. No gunners on the punting teams. And a scrimmage play will take the place of the extra point. Off the field: no taking a knee for the national anthem, players with felonies will not be allowed to play in the XFL, and the league will not test for cannabis.
Yes, Nation’s Capital, you have a team. The DC Defenders will play at the new Audi Field (capacity 20,000), built for soccer and located near Nationals Park. The team’s colors will be Red and White (a good move, as the popular Caps and Nats wear the same colors). There is a connection to the Redskins, as former player Kurt Gouveia will be the team’s linebackers coach. The Defenders open this Saturday at home against the Seattle Dragons.
Color me skeptical. I tend to compartmentalize my sports and by the time the Super Bowl is over, I have little desire for more football.
College basketball, Caps hockey, and the Nationals jump onto my radar. I don’t think I’m alone in this regard. What will the product be like? How will the league market it’s stars? Will this simply be “Triple-A” football? All questions that will be answered in the next 10 weeks. The XFL 2020 seems to be much better planned than the 2001 version, with a better business model, network affiliation, etc.
THE question is, do fans want more football right after the long grind of the NFL?
Only time will tell.
Until the next visit from The Booth, GO HORNETS!