I hope the XFL succeeds. I’m rooting for it. The more people who can live out their lifelong dream of playing pro football the better. I like the innovation, and I hope the NFL can learn from some of the things the XFL is doing.
I just wont watch it.
Now, I don’t begrudge anybody their obsessions with the Seattle Dragons, St. Louis Battlehawks or Houston Roughnecks.
Hopefully, people watch it and like it and support it.
Hopefully, the league survives and flourishes in ways the AAF, World League, USFL and the earlier XFL were unable to.
But for me, football is about more than just a few trick plays, cool team names and logos and some creative new rules. It’s more than just a way to pass the time between the Super Bowl and the start of training camp.
And when it’s not played at the highest level, it just doesn’t grab me.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Dave Zangaro, who remembers even the most obscure players to come through Eagles OTAs for a day or two, compiled a list of former Eagles who are on the eight XFL rosters:
Donnel Pumphrey, Freddie Martino, Josh Hawkins, Asantay Brown, Winston Craig, DeAndre Thompkins, Joe Toth, Malcolm Bunche, Elijah Qualls, Trae Elston, Ajene Harris, De’Angelo Henderson, Toby Weathersby, Gabe Wright, Jerome Couplin, Quentin Gause, Luiz Perez, Matt McGloin, Ryan Mueller, Carlton Agudosi, Harold Jones-Quartey, Matt Jones, Godwin Igwebuike, Aaron Murray and Seantavius Jones.
The few the rest of us even remember — Pumphrey, McGloin, Hawkins — we remember because of how bad they were when they were here.
Why would I want to watch guys who failed so miserably in the NFL play football against a bunch of other guys who failed so miserably in the NFL?
The three-point PAT? The complete transparency on replay rulings? The revamped overtime? The 25-second play clock? The punting rules that encourage coaches to go for it on 4th down?
I like all these things. And if some or all of them can help the NFL present a better product, I’m all for it.
Doesn’t mean I want to watch.
There’s something special about NFL Sundays. The chance to see the best in the world go head-to-head.
Deandre Hopkins vs. Jalen Ramsey. Khalil Mack vs. Lane Johnson. Saquon Barkley vs. the Ravens’ rush defense.
Think about the thrill you got this year watching DeSean Jackson catching back-to-back 50-yard TDs from Carson Wentz. Miles Sanders exploding up the middle for a 38-yard run with less than a minute left to seal the win over the Cowboys. Greg Ward's first career TD giving the Eagles a season-saving last-second win over the Redskins.
And I’m supposed to pretend that watching Seantavious Jones, Ryan Mueller or Harold Jones-Quartey somehow gives me a similar thrill?
Honestly, I don’t even know who Ryan Mueller is, and if it hadnt been for Dave’s story I would have sworn he was never with the Eagles. Turns out he was on the roster from April 1 through May 3 of 2016.
If you spent your life watching the Stones, what would it be like if you all of a sudden started watching a Stones cover band instead?
It's OK. But obviously not even close to the same experience.
I need a reason to watch something. A good reason. And the XFL isn’t giving it to me. A bunch of former Eagles scrubs and a bunch of rules innovations isn’t enough.
Once the novelty wears off, then what? Just Toby Weathersby trying to block Winston Craig.
What makes the NFL the most popular sport in the U.S. is the world-class talent, the breathtaking level of competition, the unforgettable plays, the rivalries that in some cases date back a century.
Without all that? What’s the point?
If I have to try and come up with a reason to watch, they’ve already lost me.