This is a great time of year to be thankful for what we have, where we have been, and what the future holds. Although the Chargers have lost their way a bit in recent years, the month of December still holds such incredible promise! This advent calendar is an attempt to hearken back to these days of December joy. Each day will bring a new advent from the Bolts’ history that makes it wonderful to be a Chargers fan.
Dec. 10: New football leagues are coming!
California is a pretty big place. That is why three NFL teams can call it home and still feel like they represent different geographical regions and populations. Four, evidently, is a bit pushing it for one league, so the Raiders are jumping out and heading for the desert.
The NFL has had to the game to itself once it ate its only real competitor: The AFL. There have only been two competitors in recent decades: The XFL (1.0), and the UFL. Neither seriously challenged The Shield, though the XFL was the only recent attempt to even try to.
Whether Southern California wants it or not, there is a lot of football coming in the next few years:
1. The Alliance of American Football (AAF)
This league seemed to pop up overnight to try and steal the thunder from the XFL’s resurgence. It has a few advantages, as well. The biggest advantage of note is that it will start playing in just a few short months, directly after the Super Bowl when non-basketball fans experience the ‘doldrums’ between seasons.
This league could make some serious waves because it is directly complimentary to the NFL, adding an immediate source of games when football interest is at its highest annually. It also has some big names to carry it through the challenging first year: Bill Polian, Justin Tuck, and Steelers’ icons Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward.
The AAF should be the most intriguing to Chargers fans because the San Diego Fleet is one of eight teams in the league, and they will be playing in SDCCU Stadium (The Murph, the Q). They are the first major football league to try and capitalize on the Chargers’ old turf, and they just might succeed in that.
The AAF is aggressively shy of directly competing with the NFL, which, along with its head start, is why it might just survive long enough to be eaten by the National Football League.
2. The XFL (2.0)
Ah, the good old XFL. For all of its failures and follies, it did have some great ideas that are now added to the NFL broadcasts. The first time the XFL came around, it tried to do too much too quickly (and football was an afterthought).
Vince McMahon is the personality and money behind this resurgence, and he feels that he learned his lessons from nearly twenty years ago. Careful planning might actually the the XFL 2.0’s fatal flaw, because the nearly three years between its announcement and their first game gave enough time for the AAF to beat them to the punch.
Still, there’s every reason to believe that the XFL will fare better this time around. For one, it’s entertainment first and sports second, which is a fairly staunchly American business strategy. With the added development, there should be stronger ties to communities (and their big spenders) that will make it less susceptible to an early crumble. Perhaps most crucial, the XFL is actually testing out its concept changes with real players in community colleges in Mississippi. This crazy thing might just work after all!
And, of course, there’s interest in the XFL because they will be launching with a team headquartered in Carson, CA. They will play their inaugural season out of StubHub Center just months after the Chargers hope to vacate in 2020.
The XFL’s previous LA team, the LA XTreme, won their Million Dollar Game back in 2001, so they might just catch a few headlines this time around as well.
3. The Professional Football League (PFL)
After realizing the need for a developmental Spring league, California businessman Jerry C. Craig began to plan for a league that w——
Nope, it looks like that one already bit the dust. The PFL was another developmental league that was set to be centered in Newport Beach, CA. They boasted some interesting support from former coaches, including Dave Campo and Dick Vermeil, but it just goes to show that talk is cheap and results are hard to come by in this business. The PFL was supposed to kick off in spring of 2018, but no games have yet been played.
For the here-and-now, it looks like the NFL has only two newcomers to really worry about before the next media agreements. Both of these new leagues have a lot of potential interest for southern California fans, and that should bode well for everyone in the Golden State!
-Jason “If at first not succeed...” Michaels