Even though the XFL had been announced over a year ago, we are still a long way from its being launched—as in, an entire NFL season in between. So it’s not a shock that there are still a lot of details that are yet to be sorted out. Such as, oh, I don’t know, maybe player rosters or something like that.
Even the pool from which players will be chosen remains somewhat up in the air, as XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck implied when he appeared on Pro Football Talk Live. One of the topics that has been discussed in relation to the upstart league has been whether or not they would try to recruit college players who are not yet eligible to declare for the NFL Draft.
In theory, a breakout freshman star who is not eligible to declare for the draft, instead of playing another unpaid season, could get a season of professional work under his belt, getting paid in the process. Or simply players who wish to play paid football rather than give their free labor would have that as an option if they don’t feel they are likely to have a chance in the NFL anyway.
“I think our launching point, February of 2020, is still down the way a little bit. We’re not actively talking to anybody at this point, but it is something that we are looking at”, Luck told Mike Florio when asked to address the possibility of bringing in such players.
“As I have said many times before I would only do that if I believe and our coaches believe a young man who is not eligible enough for the NFL but nonetheless has the physical, the emotional, the mental sort of maturity to play professional football, because we’re gonna have 26-, 27-, who knows, 28-, 30-year-olds playing in our league”, he added. “It’s something that’s certainly in our playbook. At this point we really haven’t spent much time thinking about it”.
At the moment, the league’s eight teams don’t even have names yet, nor much of a coaching staff. They are currently experimenting with possible variations regarding the rules of the league on the field, so there is still a lot to get done before the XFL officially kicks off in February.
In the wake of the failure of the AAF, perhaps a lot of the public that displayed interest or even excitement for an alternative league has soured on the XFL’s prospects, but there are some key differences, the most important of which being the fact that it is being directly funded primary by its founder to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Nevertheless, a key piece about its prolonged sustainability will be to attract marketable talent, and to even find a way to try to hold on to that talent without the NFL constantly poaching them. That is going to be an impossible task of whack-a-mole, especially after we have just seen over 40 AAF players and counting sign with NFL teams.