By Forrest Clay, For TheAfricanAmericanAthlete.com
Just like that football is back! And this time the XFL may have got it right.
There were many expectations going into the start of this league, and much doubt after the Alliance of American Football (AAF) folded after nine weeks of play. So many questions loomed over if anyone could ever rival the National Football League (NFL).
Well without jumping to an expectation that everyone is going to just drop the NFL for the XFL experience, let me say it is off to a great start.
The numbers of attendance had registered between 17,000-18,000, great for a startup. Not to mention that the XFL’s ratings, compiled 2.9 million viewers for its first game on CBS. Again, such a great start.
For now, and in the future, it is safe to say that the NFL is safe in regard to the XFL. Let’s be real, the money is in the NFL and so is the national acclaim. I see the NFL partnering with the XFL to produce a farm system similar to NFL Europe years ago. Many practice squad players can be developed, and quarterbacks can be groomed. This will not only help the XFL in star power but assist the NFL in recruiting and drafting.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association you do have a problem. The joint rule between the NCAA and the NFL in which a player has to be removed from High School for three years does not apply to the XFL. So, in a hypothetical situation, a player could come straight out of high school to compete.
Now the chances of this happening may be slim to none but nevertheless, the XFL has already stated that they will not rule anything out. Per Commissioner Oliver Luck of the XFL on a December podcast.
Much more to this is that if a student has been declared academically ineligible, or feels as if he is not getting playing time and or wants to be seen early by NFL execs, nothing is stopping him from leaving the university. Oh, and the best part is that he is not doing it for a piece of paper that does not guarantee a job with a salary while making the university millions.
He can now get paid for his play and likeness, with no strings attached.
West Virginia University Safety Kenny Robinson left the school based off of an academic dismissal and was not eligible to transfer. Robinson elected to go to the XFL draft in October. He decided over getting back in good standings with the school. He now is a starter for the St. Louis Battlehawks making a salary while he plays.
This may be a trend going forward that the NCAA may have to deal with especially if Mr. Robinson leverages this into an NFL contract. Much like anything else in our society it only takes one to open the door before many more follow.
To take another jab at the NCAA and this is purely hypothetically. Trevor Lawrence or the likes of a player of his caliber at the quarterback position can choose to leave the NCAA for more development against professional players and coaches. Therefore, placing a dent in the NCAA infrastructure that has been misusing these kids for profitable gain.
However, this site represents the African American Athlete and we must look at what this new league means for our community.
And that can be seen as a grooming spot for black coaches, general managers, front office and much more. I believe it can open up doors for future ownership in the case of expansion. Therefore, shifting more African American viewers from the NFL as an alternative.
The NFL has lost a lot of African American viewers due to the boycott and mistreatment of Colin Kaepernick. And those viewers can find a home with the XFL knowing that the league is more inclusive to diversity among ownership, coaches and front office personnel. If the XFL is watching the climate they should look to more inclusion in those positions. We all know the NFL is not looking for it on the front end. Especially with the well-intended but joke of a rule in the ‘Rooney Rule’.
XFL this is a call out to you. I am watching and for now, I am a fan.
It seems that you have grown as a league. Your last stint was too full of gimmicks and tricks. This product seems more polished and for real. Only time will tell if you continue to grow, or flame out like the rest who have tried to match the monopoly of the NFL.