By Joseph L. Campos, Jr.
Can Orange County get a new professional football franchise in the near future? The possibility of this can in fact become a reality if the public lets its voice be heard in the matter. This is precisely because World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon has recently announced that after a decade-long hiatus, he is finally bringing back the Xtreme Football League in the year 2020. He also alluded that he may bring back the original eight franchises, plus maybe some expansion teams in new cities around America as well.
The Xtreme Football League (XFL) was a new, rough, tough, and gritty football league that made its debut in the year 2001, and showcased a more fast-paced stratal approach to the game. Old school football fans loved it, for they felt that the current National Football League had sold out by becoming too commercial, politically- and religiously-biased, corrupted, and watered down with too many rules and infractions that slowed down the game, and softened the style of play that made the game the way it was.
The XFL consisted of eight teams, the Los Angeles Xtreme, the Las Vegas Outlaws, the Memphis Maniacs, and the San Francisco Demons in the West Coast Division; and the Chicago Enforcers, the Birmingham Bolts, the New Jersey Hitmen, and the Orlando Rage within the East Coast Division. The league produced some top tier superstars like Los Angeles Xtreme Quarterback Tommy Maddox and Kicker Jose Cortez, Las Vegas Outlaws Runningback Rod “He Hate Me” Smart, and Defensive End Angel Rubio. The XFL’s first and only Championship Game took place between both California franchises with the Los Angeles Xtreme facing off against the San Francisco Demons. Maddox and Cortez would help the Xtreme walk away as World Champions after a 38-6 walloping of their cross-state rivals at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Now fast forward to today. Orange County has had four major professional football franchises to date play in the Anaheim area. The Los Angeles Rams, which played in the Los Angeles Angels baseball stadium from Sept. 7, 1980-Dec. 24, 1994, then moved the team to St. Louis, Missouri; the Los Angeles Seahawks who had a brief stint in Anaheim before moving back to Seattle in 1996, and the Anaheim Piranhas of the Arena Football League (AFL), which played from 1996-1997 before going out of business, and lastly the Los Angeles Kiss of the AFL which played in the Honda Center from 2013-2016 before also going out of business.
Yet, with the XFL and CEO Vince McMahon, Orange County can have a fresh start in terms of having and retaining its very own professional football franchise. The negative notions of the National Football League (NFL)’s background politics won’t render us dead in the water like last time either, with McMahon’s new business model for the XFL going forward.
According to the Seattle Times, “the NFL threatened to fine Behring $500,000 for every week that the Seahawks practiced in Anaheim. Hours before Orange County’s ‘Welcome Ken Behring Party’ in late March, he announced the Seahawks were heading back to Seattle.”
McMahon’s plan for the XFL this time around is to have his personal corporation, Alpha Entertainment, take full control over all eight teams. There will be no individual franchising of any of the squads, and therefore there will be no minority owners involved in the league. McMahon is the main boss, and everyone within the league will answer to him directly.
“We are a single entity, and there is no franchise model,” says McMahon in his live streaming announcement of the league’s big return that took place on Jan. 25.
Now this is where things can get very interesting for all of Orange County. With McMahon at the full helm of the XFL, and taking full ownership of each team, and all of their operations; he is therefore investing all of his own personal money into the league himself. This means that if he brings a franchise to any city around America, he is going to be footing the bill with his own personal money and investments. It is not going to cost the local American taxpayer anything, and it will not cost the local legislation anything either. Therefore local governments should see this as a major opportunity to land a positive, family friendly form of entertainment for their region, all while providing new jobs for those residents. Orange County already has Angels baseball and Ducks hockey, both championship-caliber teams in their own right. Why not add a professional football franchise to further enrich the area, and further build the sense of community spirit with, say, the Los Angeles Xtreme, or a whole new franchise for that matter?
How can the everyday local Orange County resident get involved in the process in trying to sway a professional football team to make a new home here within our region many may ask? Well, this is where McMahon’s social media campaign comes into play. With the #XFL2020 Twitter feed, McMahon is calling on all American football fans from all over the country to voice their wants, concerns, input, and suggestions for the league’s kickoff in 2020. With this being said, ordinary citizens can form a petition to advertise for their city to sway XFL league executives to bring a team to their neck of the woods. Orange County, are you listening?
McMahon had the following to say when asked about this concept. “We are going to go where fans want us to go wherever there is more interest.” McMahon would continue the conversation with, “You want to play football where football is played in stadiums, there may be a situation where we play in a baseball stadium, or something like that if a football stadium is not available in that market.”
Surely there have to be a few destinations in mind here in our region to house a football team with the previous allusions given above. If citizens demand it, they will come.
“Certainly Orange County, especially Anaheim, can create more jobs with this opportunity,” says Jonathan Mathis, who attended Cypress College and is now a reporter for SoCal Sports Chronicle. “Anaheim has been struggling with poverty for some time now. Having a new football team can create economic growth for them and all of Orange County. With an expansion league or team here it will inspire the large population here that are in need of employment. Many are in desperate need of employment.”
Still, Mathis does have some reservations about the idea of a football team in Orange County. He has a stern warning to all who would be potentially involved in the probability of bringing a team to the region. “They would need to take into consideration of what sells here in California. Orange County fans demand a team that will produce wins, and will galvanize their fan base. If the team is horrendous and does not meet the demands of the fan base, it will lose its huge audience here. There are way too many things to do in California than to watch a losing team. from Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, to all of the movie theaters, arcades, restaurants, and night clubs, people will just entertain themselves in other ways, and will ignore a losing franchise.”
The fanatic input doesn’t stop there either. McMahon says his league will also take into consideration ideas to make the game safer, faster, and easier to understand. Needless rules that have made a mockery of the NFL can be eradicated at the fans’ will. Team logos and colors can be altered from last time, names changed, halftime taken out. The game will not drag on as long as NFL games either. McMahon and his executives are pushing for a two-hour time limit, and fewer tedious commercial breaks.
They understand that the everyday working American, parent, and college student does not have three to four hours to watch a dragged-out game that takes away from the other duties they may have. Essentially, McMahon and his crew are making the game and the league more personal and customizable for fans themselves.
“We want to give the game of football back to fans. We are going to listen to players, coaches, medical experts, technological experts, people within the media, but mostly the fans,” explains McMahon. “If you have any ideas, please send them out way, because we are listening.”
Orange County residents are already excited about the possibility of being able to have, and customize, their own team. “It will be great for football families here in our area,” explains Francine Garcia of Santa Ana. “I would love to take my children to see the games. I would definitely get some tickets. All of my sons play football, but I think that it would be better if we all came together to choose a new logo, colors, and a team name for the children, because most of the young children that are around now do not know about the Xtreme or the Demons from the original XFL. It would be better to allow this generation’s little ones to make the team for themselves; that way they can feel like they are more of a part of it.”
So far, it is already solidified that the league will consist of 40-man rosters with a ten-game season. Overall there will be a regular season, a postseason or playoff campaign, two semifinal match-ups between the league’s best squads, and finally, another championship game. It will be televised and streamed on various multimedia platforms from television, to the radio, to the internet.
Social media platforms like MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, and many others will be utilized in ways and mechanisms that have never been seen before.
“The XFL will be fan-centric with more of the things that fans want to see, and less of the things they don’t, and no doubt it will feature more technological advances along the way,” explains McMahon. “It is professional football re-imagined.”
The XFL looks to capitalize on the NFL’s growing list of public social fiascos, corruption, endless rating drops, and growing disapproval of football fans. McMahon and his league executives stress that players with a criminal past will not be allowed to play in their league. So disgusting individual player acts will not be tolerated; nor will issues like Spy Gate and Deflate Gate.
While the NFL and league commissioner Roger Goodell rather foolishly defend, lionize, and champion such players and their questionable behavior all while allowing many of these individuals to still play without any punishment or personal accountability (some were even elected into the league’s Hall of Fame this year), McMahon looks to not make their same mistake by mocking and alienating fans.
“The XFL will be family friendly,” says McMahon. “Here in our league, the quality of the human being is going to be as important as the quality of the player.”
McMahon’s words are a breath of fresh air for local football fans like Angela Marsh who works in the downtown Anaheim district by all of the sports stadiums. “Every professional league should be family friendly,” she says. “I mean, fathers take their children to see the games, those children grow up and take their kids, so it should be something that can be shared with the whole family without fear the kids will hear or see something they shouldn’t.”
Marsh says that she will strongly support an XFL squad in Orange County, as long as it is a clean brand of football, and does not go haywire like Goodell’s NFL. “Sure, I would go to a game and would support a local team. I also like the fact that it will provide more jobs, and will boost our local economy as well. The location is good, it’s not that far of a drive from other cities. I think it’s exciting. I know Anaheim already has some professional teams, baseball and hockey; football would be a good addition.”
Mathis concurs with Marsh’s statements, and feels that the XFL could be a success with its reboot, especially if it does not follow the wavering path the NFL took under the dismal leadership, or lack thereof, of Goodell.
“I think that a spotless image is very important for any league, because it reflects on your brand,” states Mathis. “The NFL needs to impose a better conduct policy, and regulate domestic violence, off the field troubles. Players also need to follow guidelines and make smart judgments. Every time they do something stupid, it reflects on the overall organization. They have to understand the importance of staying out of trouble, staying clean, they have to follow the rules, they don’t need to be defiant. The ratings have dropped for the NFL over the past few seasons because of this. People have turned away from the league due to all of the protests and politics regarding the American flag situation. If the XFL does not mimic the same things as the NFL, it will work this time. It will be a great opportunity for Orange County. Citizens here live for their sports. Having a team in Anaheim could be a great asset for our area. It could lure more fans over here.”
Although this is just a hypothetical scenario, and is just fun football fan talk, this mere dream can in fact manifest into an amazing reality. Yet it will take all of Orange County’s local football fanbase to get online and petition for a team. If many people gather up together and voice their demands for a squad on #XFL2020 on Twitter, we could bring professional football back to our home. Also with CEO McMahon footing the bill so we won’t have to, honestly…what do we have to lose?