After a promising start that brought hope to football fans yearning for a viable professional spring league, the Alliance of American Football ultimately met an all-too-familiar demise.
Eight games into the season, and about six weeks after Tom Dundon committed to pumping $250 million into the league, the Dallas billionaire shuttered the AAF.
Now, fans of the game turn to a rebooted version of the XFL for their spring league hopes. Starting in 2020, WWE boss Vince McMahon is bringing back the league known for its flash and colorful nicknames such as He Hate Me, and the Dallas area will be home to one of eight franchises.
Here’s what you need to know about Dallas’ XFL team:
What is the XFL and when will it start?
The XFL is a reimagined version of the league originally started by McMahon in 2001. That version was a flop and lasted only one season. According to McMahon, XFL 2020 is committed to delivering a fan-centric, innovative experience, including fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment.
The league will launch the weekend of February 8-9, 2020, with teams in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington D.C. There will be a 10-week regular season schedule, with a postseason consisting of two semifinal playoff games and a championship.
Will the new XFL meet the same fate as the AAF?
Only time will tell, but the odds are stacked against the XFL. McMahon is personally financing the league. He recently cashed in $270 million worth of WWE stock to help prop up the league. XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck, appearing on a recent episode of ESPN’s Outside The Lines, pointed to McMahon’s capital commitment and the league’s two-year run up as reasons for hope.
Having two years to prepare “allowed us to plan — to plan our workers’ comp system, to plan our general liability insurance, stadium leases, practice facilities,” Luck told ESPN, via Pro Football Talk and the Sports Business Journal. “All of those things take some time. We’re going to launch in a much better position, quite honestly.”
Who will coach the Dallas team?
Some fans already are familiar with the coach of the Dallas team. That’s because legendary Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops was surprisingly announced as head coach and general manager in early February. At his introductory news conference, Stoops, 58, explained his motivation for ending his two-year retirement from coaching. “One of my major reasons for leaving Oklahoma,” Stoops said, “was I wanted to be the boss of my own time. Be careful what you wish for.”
Stoops has begun the process of filling out his staff. In May, he hired former Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston as the director of player personnel.
The club also recently hired former Texas State head coach Chris Woods as its defensive coordinator and Hal Mumme as offensive coordinator. Mumme is one of the founders of the pass heavy Air Raid offense. He’s previously coached at Iowa Wesleyan, Valdosta State, Kentucky and other programs.
Here are some other coaching hires for Dallas:
Where will the Dallas team play?
Globe Life Park in Arlington has found a post-baseball life and will serve as home to the Dallas XFL team. Once the Rangers move to the new ballpark across the street, the current venue will be retrofitted for football.
There will be some construction involved to accommodate a football field that runs in a north-south direction. Capacity is expected to be about 25,000
“It’s a huge opportunity to reuse this building,” Sean Decker, Rangers vice president of operations and events, said in December. “We’ve made a commitment to keep Globe Life Park up and relevant and to keep great events coming through the building. We’re excited that we can show fans we will follow through on this. We hope to keep layering things in.”
What type of players will be available?
XFL teams will have 45-man rosters. The XFL won’t be able to compete with NFL salaries, but it’s a good bet McMahon and Commissioner Luck, the father of the Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, will look to make a few big personnel splashes.
For comparison, ex-NFL players such as Colts running back Trent Richardson, ex-Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar and DE Damontre Moore, and former Texas A&M and Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel played in the Alliance of American Football.
“It will take a lot of film study and analytics and a lot of work from your staff to try and find the right guys,” Stoops said at his introductory news conference. “Even if it isn’t the NFL level, there are still a lot of very good football players out there that may have been cut after two or three years or maybe just made it to the last cut on an NFL roster and all of a sudden they need a place to go.
“And these are going to be guys coming out of school that played a lot of football and that are experienced in this game. I believe we’ll be able to put a great, fun, exciting product out on the field.”
The league is expected to hold a draft late summer or early fall of 2019.
What about team colors and nicknames?
We don’t have any information about colors and nicknames yet, but more details are expected to be revealed soon. The league has been unveiling its head coaches for the other franchises in deliberate fashion.
Will the games be on TV?
The XFL will televise half of their games on ABC and Fox, the league announced in May.
“We are thrilled to partner with ESPN and FOX Sports, two innovative media companies with extensive experience in world-class football production that will undoubtedly help us reimagine football,” McMahon said in a league statement. “The XFL broadcast schedule provides us with incredible reach and makes it easy for fans to watch our games consistently every weekend.”
Got what it takes to play?
Want to be a professional football player? No, seriously. The XFL is hosting tryouts in eight cities, including Dallas. Athletes (or aspiring athletes) can tryout in Dallas on June 7.
As director of player personnel, it’ll be “Moose” Johnston’s job to oversee the Dallas roster.
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