(WBOY) — The NFL has closed the chapter on the latest season of play and is looking forward to the next one. But for those of us who just can’t get enough of the gridiron, there’s still plenty to be had.
Enter the XFL and the United States Football League (USFL), two different organizations but both—though they may not admit it—fighting for a spot as the #2 professional football league in the nation and possibly an official minor league spot under the current professional football giant, the NFL.
The XFL makes its second return after Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson purchased the league from founder and owner Vince McMahon in 2020, according to the sportster.com. The USFL is entering the second season of its newest rendition after folding in 1985 and reviving in 2022, according to The Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Both of these leagues will play it like they’re a replacement for the NFL, or better yet an equal, similar to the American Football League (AFL) formed back in the 1960s. These leagues present the NFL with an opportunity to increase the level of competition. Having more than one professional football league presents graduating college athletes with a wider window of opportunity and can give potential NFL busts a second chance.
Over the years, many graduating athletes have put their name in the hat of the NFL draft, only to be passed by for one reason or another. The idea of a minor league gives athletes a chance to hone their skills a bit more in order to better prepare them for the big leagues.
Take Major League Baseball for example, 30 teams represent the entire nation in the Majors. Below those 30 teams, are four minor league teams each. These include Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Single-A, according to milb.com. In total, that’s 120 minor league teams feeding talent into the majors, not even including the MLB draft every July—plenty of chances and space to develop potential stars.
If implemented, a minor league style like this has the potential to take the NFL to a whole new level of elite. The ability to develop and craft individual stars and stories from the minors, while still being able to draft talent right out of college is something the NFL could build an even greater empire with. Especially when you consider the potential money to be made. According to milb.com, minor league baseball clubs are worth anywhere between $3-25 million, a potential gold mine for the NFL if they implement a similar strategy.
So how does this idea even get off of the ground? The answer is you—more broadly the public—need to prove that people will watch by well…watching. The XFL didn’t skip a beat after the NFL wrapped up their regular season, with play beginning this Saturday at 3 p.m. as the Vegas Vipers take on the Arlington Renegades, according to the league’s website.
The USFL on the other hand is giving fans some time to breathe, with their season kickoff currently scheduled for Saturday, April 15 as the Philadelphia Stars take on the Memphis Showboats, according to the league’s website.
Only time will tell if either, both or neither of these leagues have any staying power. Until then though, fans might as well get comfortable as there is plenty of football still to enjoy in 2023.