The LA Chargers 2017 season ended on a high note, and all signs point to continuing that upward momentum in 2018 and beyond. While the Rams had a one-year head start in the new LA market, an abrupt playoff exit will likely help keep southern California more fairly split. The Chargers and Rams are currently hoping to jump into a cushy new stadium in 2020. Things are finally starting to look good for the Chargers, and Dean Spanos’ huge gamble might truly begin to pay off.
And then, without notice—a dark horse figure rushes from the shadowy corners of the ring and bodyslams the NFL with unprovoked ferocity! It appears that the oft-maligned and short-lived XFL is going to return. WWE chairman Vince McMahon unveiled the rekindled alternate league today at noon PT, according to reports from CBS.
The original XFL’s opening game took place on February 3, 2001, one year after the league was announced and less than one week following the Super Bowl. This speedy timeline ultimately proved to be a foolish stunt, dooming the XFL to an inaugural season of poor/dangerous play, rule changes, and little time for advance marketing. McMahon thinks that he learned from the follies of the original experiment, and it is likely that some of the more salacious and foolhardy elements of the original product will be toned down. This is already evident in the news that the new XFL will debut in 2020.
If McMahon is able to find a media partner, this could be a whirlwind of trouble for the NFL—or a blessing in disguise. The NFL currently has no developmental league and its short season leaves a rather sizable hole in the market. Much like how hometown baseball teams aren’t figured to be in direct competition (and, truthfully, most are part of the larger business) with the MLB, there is probably a sweet spot to where both leagues can flourish and even help each other grow.
That nice, cute symbiosis took over a hundred years to develop. The XFL, at least in the immediate future, should make owners very queasy with its 2020 launch. They’ll have a new CBA to fret over in 2021 (and the risk of a disastrous player strike), followed immediately by a new media contract in 2022. If the XFL eats into their business, especially in the year 2021, all of the owners should expect to get a whole lot less pie from the 2022 contract that will directly cite any viewership declines.
The XFL and the Chargers
The Chargers, the Rams, and the Raiders stand to lose the most by a resurgent XFL. All of these teams will still be busy, trying to court their new markets. The original XFL aimed directly for the major media markets in America, including San Francisco AND Los Angeles. It also had a franchise placed in Las Vegas to help tie the league with its sinful/glamorous reputation. Los Angeles, being, of course, the media creation capital that it is, was the premier team in the league. In its singular season, the LA Xtreme won the championship game and held most league records as they played out of the LA Memorial Coliseum.
It almost goes without saying that the XFL will again court LA, New York, and Chicago. Las Vegas is also likely in its sights. Having two competing NFL teams in both LA and New York might change things around this time, but that is unlikely. However--keep in mind that the XFL, and McMahon in particular, is centered on bravado and the concept that any news is good news. It would not surprise many if the XFL tried to move into San Diego to capitalize on the media stir and large market there. If SDCCU (Jack Murphy) Stadium is still standing, they could very well have a place to play. To thicken the plot for the Chargers even further, the XFL has secretly been buying back its previous trademarks. One of the original teams was the Birmingham Blasts... but they were renamed to the Birmingham Thunderbolts after public outcry (Birmingham has a history of bomb-related violence). The team, media, and merchandise used simply Bolts as that team’s name.
McMahon has sold over 100 million dollars of WWE stocks to fund the operation, so it is clear that he means business. We should find out more concrete details as soon as this afternoon.
Either way, this rekindled XFL should prove fun for fans to directly enjoy or to watch the circus from afar. The Chargers as a franchise would be well served to succeed in the next two years and claim as much media ‘pie’ as they can.
-Jason “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” Michaels