The Alliance of American Football was an upstart football league made up of a number of NFL veterans, including some as pedigreed and as established as Bill Polian, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as an executive. The XFL is the pet project of Vince McMahon, the owner of World Wrestling Entertainment, a league that already failed once nearly two decades ago.
The AAF has ostensibly learned from the failure of the XFL and of all the upstart leagues to come before it. It was the most serious attempt to bring forth a rival football league since the XFL. Now the new league is hoping to be XFL 2.0, rather than AAF 2.0, and in that regard, they are continuing to highlight the ways in which the two differ.
The most substantial difference, especially given the way things ended, is the fact that the XFL’s financial backing is much more stable, since its primary resource will be McMahon himself, who is prepared to commit $500 million, or possible more, to carry the league through its first couple of seasons. He has already withdrawn over half of that amount in stocks to fund it.
Another area in which the XFL hopes to differentiate itself substantially from the AAF is its visibility. While the AAF’s inaugurally game was broadcast nationally on CBS, subsequent games were features on the NFL Network and CBS Sports Network, primarily.
According to XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck, they believe the coverage of their games will be much more substantial. He said that they have deals with “two very powerful media companies” to broadcast their games, and that two games a week will be on network television, while the other two will be on major cable channels.
Greater visibility will certainly help, but it will also be incumbent upon them to establish a brand that people can buy into, and more often than not, that starts with having some recognizable names and faces.
At the moment, they are still filling out the coaching staffs of their eight teams. At the moment, the current coaches include Bob Stoops for the Dallas franchise, Kevin Gilbride of the New York franchise, Jonathan Hayes in St. Louis, Jim Zorn in Seattle, Marc Trestman in Tampa Bay, and Pep Hamilton in DC. Both Gilbride (as a coach) and Hayes (as a player) have Steelers ties.
In addition to these men as head coaches (and other presidents and general managers already named), the league’s advisory panel includes, among others, Jim Caldwell, John Fox, and Doug Flutie. Luck himself has prior experience as the commissioner of the original NFL Europe.