Everything you need to know about the XFL
Football season is far from over now that the XFL is back.
Nineteen years after WWE executive Vince McMahon launched the failed inaugural season of the XFL, he’s rebooting the professional league with an emphasis on quality football, rule changes, innovation, and entertainment.
Before the Seattle Dragons and DC Defenders open the season Saturday, Feb. 8, here’s everything you need to know about the 2020 XFL season, including the teams, unique game rules, and important dates.
What is the XFL?
The XFL is a professional football league. Back in 2001 the XFL conducted one full season, from late winter to early spring, as a joint venture between the WWF (now WWE) and NBC.
In January of 2018, McMahon’s company, Alpha Entertainment, announced the second coming of the XFL in 2020, with a 10-week season starting in February. McMahon has stated the new XFL will be dissimilar to the first version.
What’s different about the 2020 XFL compared to 2001?
In 2001 the XFL came under fire for its alleged emphasis on violence and sex appeal—much like professional wrestling—and a lack of talent across the league.
This time around McMahon has scaled back on the gimmicks and is focusing on plain, ol’ football. You won’t see player nicknames, like “He Hate Me,” on the back of jerseys. You won’t see cheerleaders, either—a smart move, considering their part in some of the controversy surrounding the 2001 XFL. And when it comes to political gestures, McMahon is strictly forbidding them from occurring on the field.
McMahon will also serve as the sole funding source of the league, which makes him the owner and ultimate decision maker, for all eight teams.
What are the rule changes?
The main draw of the XFL will be its experimental rule changes to speed up the game and maintain excitement. Unlike the NFL, which took a recent hit in viewership, partially because of its three-hour games and constant stoppages of play, the XFL is aiming for a two-hour time slot.
The new league has not only enacted changes to the play clock, game clock, and overtime, but it has also established new gameplay innovations and “common sense” rules.
One such change is to allow double forward passes, as long as the ball doesn’t past the line of scrimmage on the first throw. The PAT system will be different, too, as a team can attempt a one-, two-, or three-point conversion, based on yardage from the end zone.
One other notable move is that every XFL officiating crew will include at least one female member.
To see the full list of rules changes, head to xfl.com/rules.
How many teams are in the XFL?
The 2020 XFL is an eight-team league, divided evenly into the Eastern and Western conferences.
The East includes the DC Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis Battlehawks, and Tampa Bay Vipers.
The West features the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons.
The XFL will also operate a 40-man farm team, called "Team 9." Players on Team 9 will share practice facilities with the Dallas Renegades and can be called up to one of the eight official teams during the regular season.
When is the XFL season?
The 2020 season will kick off at 2 p.m. ET Saturday, Feb. 8, when the DC Defenders host the Seattle Dragons.
The regular season will run for 10 consecutive weeks and end Sunday, April 12. Games will be played on Saturdays and Sundays from Week 1 through Week 8. Weeks 9 and 10 will offer a Thursday-night matchup, a Saturday afternoon contest, and two Sunday games.
The top four teams in the league (two from the East and two from the West) will compete in a four-team playoff on Saturday, April 18, and Sunday, April 19. The winner of the East will face the winner of the West in the championship Sunday, April 26, at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Where can I watch the XFL?
All XFL games will be broadcast across ABC, FOX Sports, and ESPN.