There are a few key differences that separate the AAF and the XFL. The AAF was run by experienced football minds who were well-respected in their industry, beyond a level any other upstart league that was ever attempted before could claim. The XFL, which already failed once, is the pet project of a professional wrestling mogul.
That’s a pretty big difference. But will it be outweighed by more pragmatic factors? That’s the question. The biggest difference, as in so many areas of life, may prove to be money, and the willingness to dedicate that money. Vince McMahon has reportedly said he is willing to fund the enterprise for at least $500 million to get it through its infancy years as the XFL establishes itself, having learned from the league’s first failure in 2001.
There’s that, and then there’s the fact that the XFL, in contrast, has had time to make preparations. The resurrection of the league was announced before the AAF venture, yet the AAF would be heading into the final week of its inaugural regular season right now had it not folded last week.
These are the differences that XFL commissioner Oliver Luck believes will separate the league from the AAF in terms of the final results. Luck—the father of Andrew Luck, and also the original commissioner of NFL Europe, the NFL’s official minor league that ran for decades between 1991 and 2007, spoke on the topic recently.
“I think what sets us apart really are two things”, Luck said on the Outside the Lines podcast; “one is the capital contribution and the capital commitment that Vince McMahon has made for us, and because of that significant capital commitment, we have the time to plan and plan properly”.
“433 days ago, Vince announced that the XFL would be re-launched February of 2020”, he went on. “311 days from now is kickoff. You can tell, we’ve got a digital clock in our office, so we’re constantly reminded of how precious every day is”.
Ultimately he said, the result has been giving them the luxury that the AAF didn’t have: time.
“That has allowed us to plan our workers’ comp”, he said. “A system to plan our general liability insurance, stadium leases, practice facilities, all of those things take some time, and I think with the advantage of Vince’s capital commitment and with the advantage of the time that that’s allowed us, I think that we’re gonna launch in a much better position, quite honestly”.
He spoke about other factors as well, including affording pricing in a family-friendly environment. Overall, it sounds like somebody representing an organization that has learned a lot, not just from its own prior experiences, but from the experiences of others as well.
Luck also talked about the fact that its desire is to be a true stand-alone league separate from the NFL, which was not the AAF’s intention, nor was it what NFL Europe was. That’s a pretty significant difference, especially when you consider that Tom Dundon pulled his investment from the AAF at least in part because of a failure to establish such a relationship with the NFL.