The newest experiment in American football kicks off on Saturday. And it's already been done before. But, not like this. XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck (you know, Andrew's dad) has assured everyone that this time around, it will be different. It will be "gimmick-free."
Well, explain this hell on earth, Oliver:
Giving every team and the entire league a theme song is absolutely a gimmick.
"For the Love of Football" is just one of the songs produced by and for the XFL. It sounds like bad Nickelback karaoke someone mixed together with Garage Band electric guitar effects. My favorite lyrics are after the chorus—"For the Love of Football"—when a crowd of people shouts "Win! Win! Win! Alright!" But hey, I know I'm not the XFL's target audience, and maybe the people who subscribe to the love of football will feel represented here.
That's what the XFL is all about this time around, according to Luck. Gone is the wet dream of merging hyper-masculine football and wrestling into one testosterone neck vein-bulging mess. The current XFL will be more "fun," but the only fun part about it is the football. There are eight teams in the league. Seattle's team is the Seattle Dragons. There's also a ninth team (Team 9) of spare players ready to get into the game in case a team needs a replacement. All to help that love of football flourish.
The league ditched cheerleaders all together, there are no more snappy nicknames, and you'll find very little of the spectacle that made the XFL notorious in its one-season lifespan back in 2001. Instead, the only thing that will separate the XFL from the rest (just the NFL now since every other football league has tanked in under five years) is an update to the rulebook to make the game faster and more exciting. Here are some changes:
Kick-off returns will be different so there are more running returns (is this what these are called?). Both teams will line up on the opposite side of the field from the receiving player and will only be allowed to run once he's caught it. Multiple forward passes will be allowed behind the line of scrimmage. No field goals for extra points. A team can choose to for one, two, or three extra points but will have to score in the end zone. The more extra points a team wants the further away they have to score from. Faster playclock. 25 seconds, baby. There's going to be a dedicated official to spotting the ball. This is something people get mad about all the time in the NFL. I know that fact from regrettable firsthand experience If a team ties, each one gets five alternating attempts to score from the 5-yard line
When I was sent these new rules, I forwarded them to the only football fan I know, Harry, my boyfriend, who doubles as a serial optimist.
"Honestly, sounds fun!" He emailed me back his analysis. "The new overtime rules are essentially entire-team penalty-kick-type shootouts, which sounds kinda dope. The game will be a lot faster since they cut the play clock (amount of time between the end of one play and when the offense has to start the next play to avoid a delay-of-game penalty) essentially in half. It'll be interesting to see how that affects the type of athletes they need. I think I'll probably go to at least one game in this opening season just to see what it's all about. Also, their website looks like somebody's senior project for their high school web design class."
All of that checks out. The Seattle Dragons kick off this season tomorrow against the DC Defenders at 11 a.m. in DC. Here is the Dragons' personal XFL theme song. I hate it:
The DC Defenders' song, ironically, is the best out of all of the teams' songs. It's still bad, but at least it's jazzy.
The Dragons' first home game at CenturyLink Field is against the Tampa Bay Vipers on Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. Don't take anyone to this as their Valentine's Day present! Yes, Harry, I know you're reading this. Don't.
Tickets are pretty cheap as far as football tickets are concerned. They start at $24. If you want a decent seat, though, it may run you $90.
Anyway. Go Dragons?