When I first heard that the XFL was coming back (my fingers keep wanting to type XLF, which sounds like the 2020 reboot of ALF, starring his derelict, estranged son he didn’t know about until later in life), of course I immediately dismissed it. The XFL was dumb in 2001, and surely it would be dumb now!
Then, when I heard Seattle was getting one of the inaugural eight teams, I don’t know if there’s a word to describe my feelings, so I just came up with one: bewildertained. I’m bewildered that this is happening in the first place, but I’m thoroughly entertained that the Seattle Dragons are a thing, and that I get to write about them on a weekly basis for the next however many weeks!
The XFL figures to be the most bewildertaining thing in my life through the end of April!
I’m also loving the fact that the Dragons might be legitimately the worst team in the league (at least, in the eyes of Vegas, as we head into the start of the season on Saturday). Of course we finally get included in something everyone’s going to take seriously for a while, and OF COURSE we’re going to be the laughingstock of it all!
Here’s what I know about the Seattle Dragons:
- I know Jim Zorn is the head coach. He had a 12-20 record with the Redskins over two seasons. We never could be sure if that’s because he’s bad at coaching, or if that team is bad at everything, but why can’t it be both?
- I know that Mike Riley is the offensive coordinator, and that every time he’s left Oregon State, he’s fallen on his ass, so that doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.
- I know someone named Brandon Silvers is the quarterback. He was at Troy in college, then played one season in the Alliance of American Football. He played some, but ultimately never distinguished himself against the likes of Johnny Manziel, Christian Hackenberg, and Zach Mettenberger.
- I know that B.J. Daniels is the backup quarterback, he’s only 30 years old, and will almost certainly be starting for this team by week 3.
- I know that Kasen Williams is the big draw, and that there’s a non-zero number of Seahawks fans who wish he was still with the team.
- I know other ex-Seahawks are also on the team, like Keenan Reynolds, Isaiah Battle, and Mohammed Seisay (among others, probably). Don’t remember those guys? I DON’T BLAME YOU!
That’s about all of the Seattle Dragons Wikipedia page I care to go through.
I don’t totally understand why Seattle has a team, other than to pad out the western half of the United States. Granted, Seahawks fans are pretty fervent, and Sounders fans are maniacal about their team, but the Seahawks are 40+ years old, and there was already a solid base of soccer fans in the area when the MLS came to town. I feel like, while Seattle certainly has an influx of young, intelligent professionals (exactly the type of people you want to cater to if you’re a new business), if the product is terrible and/or boring, I could easily see this market fizzle out in a hurry.
You can certainly be bad and entertaining, and that’s obviously what the XFL is doing with all their rule changes (quicker pace, shorter play clock, encouraging kickoff/punt returns as well as going for it on 4th downs), but other than having the stadium in place, Seattle seems like a terrible spot for this. Why wouldn’t you go after smaller markets with the potential for a stronger attachment? Seattle has sports up the wazoo. Los Angeles has even more. If I were running the XFL, I would’ve planted the bulk of the league east of the Mississippi, and probably wouldn’t have ventured any further west than Texas.
I think they got it right with the two teams in Texas, as well as St. Louis, D.C., and Tampa. I think you have to have one in Atlanta or New Orleans, one in Pittsburgh, and shit man, why not Green Bay? Or Milwaukee or something. Hit the old-school football towns. Even if you go with Chicago, you’re going to get devoted Chicagoans to buy in early and often!
I think most football fans will avoid it altogether. Bigger football fans will tune in the first week or two, but I fully expect the ratings to fall off in a big way by week 3, regardless of how good or bad the product is. I just don’t think there’s a market for second-rate football in the springtime. We have 32 NFL teams, each with 53-man rosters and 10-man practice squads. That’s over 2,000 players, not counting guys on IR and the proverbial Ghost Rosters out there, who aren’t signed, stay in shape, and join up with a team in need as injuries mount. The XFL is essentially made up of those Ghost Rosters. In other words: the football players not good enough to crack the Top 2,000 in America.
We’re probably heading in the right direction, but I think at some point the NFL has to relax its standards on having players stay in college for two years and allow high school players go directly to the pros. I also think that instead of an XFL, the NFL should just set up a minor league system a la baseball, and not allow any of those high school players into the NFL proper until they’ve played 2 years in the minor league system they’ve set up (or college, if that’s their choice). This way, the players who want to get paid CAN get paid, and the players who want to go to college can do that instead.
Why is this so difficult?
Anyway, I’m ready for the Seattle Dragons to STINK, and I’m ready to watch them stink every single week. I’ll be watching, if for nothing else, than to bone up on who to bet AGAINST when I go to Reno in mid-March. Here’s a hint: their team colors are navy, green, and orange, and they’re THE FUCKING DRAGONS!
What is this, the football league from Any Given Sunday?