The XFL is in their fourth week of the season and things are starting to tame as far as ratings go as Austin Karp of Sports Business Journal tweeted out:
Even though it is still early to make any real judgement, it would seem that the hopes that this league would be able to compete with the NFL are definitely bleak. We’ve seen it too many times. The USFL, even with players like Warren Moon, Jim Kelly and Steve Young, folded after three seasons. The first XFL was more of a side show than an actual football league and it was done after one season. Most recently, the AAF didn’t even make through its first season without collapsing. The NFL is too strong and there will never be a league that can come close. So, what is the old saying? “If you can’t beat em, join em.” That’s what the XFL needs to do. They should become a developmental league for the NFL.
Look at the NFL second and third string quarterbacks. More times than not, they end up spending the season holding a clip board and watching the games from the sidelines. Sure, they’ll get some reps in practice, but they need real game experience. The same goes for all the guys that are just barely making the 53-man roster. XFL games can give these guys the playing time that they wouldn’t get just from the NFL and it could better acclimate them for when they get a chance in the NFL.
Obviously, this approach has been done before, as well. NFL Europe was a developmental league for the NFL and to be honest, I can’t tell you who all the teams were or who won the World Bowl each year. However, unlike those other leagues, NFL Europe lasted 16 seasons and developed some great players for the NFL. Some of the players include, Kurt Warner, Jon Kitna, James Harrison, and even Chiefs great, Dante Hall. In fact, Hall’s NFL career took off shortly after returning from Europe. It was played in Europe, though. A developmental league here in the states, like the XFL, would be more appealing to players and could result in a better turnout of higher quality athletes.
With a developmental league, the NFL would have a better opportunity to get tape on a kid who may have gone undrafted because he went to a smaller school. There is going to be less visibility for a player coming out of a school like Tennessee-Chattanooga than there would be for a kid from Alabama. With the XFL, that small-school kid will be able to put his skills out there on national television and allow scout to get real tape on him.
The XFL won’t make it. I don’t say that to offend the real die-hard XFL fans (all five of you). I just know that they cannot compete with the popularity of the NFL by using players that cannot compete in the NFL. This first week was entertaining, but after the new smell wore off, everybody started to realize it wasn’t the same as football in January. So why not develop the players so that they can have a shot to play in January?