The eXtreme Football League (XFL) kicked off recently and is looking like the first successful complementary football league to the NFL since USFL in the 1980s.
The XFL folded when it was first attempted in 2001. Since then, there have been many attempts at creating a successful secondary football league, such as the American Alliance of Football (AAF) last year, but all have failed.
When owner Vince McMahon founded the XFL, he wanted to run the league the same way he runs World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He wanted it to be more like a show rather than focusing on the sport. One way he did this was allowing players to have nicknames on their jerseys and change them weekly. These kind of rules, in the addition to a lack of knowledge from McMahon, caused the original collapse after its first and only season in 2001.
Nineteen years later, he is trying this league once again and wants it to be competitive. He wants the league to be an opportunity for college athletes to gain more exposure and for NFL athletes who may need more development a chance to get it before making an NFL roster.
The people who will benefit the most will be those college athletes from FCS schools, such as Sam Houston State University, and higher up Division II athletes.
This league will serve as a national stage for talented players from these smaller schools to get more exposure — which could be what these FCS and Division II athletes need for a chance in the NFL.
Since 2000, only seven players from SHSU have made it to the NFL. Of those, only one was drafted within the first two rounds. The XFL will allow some players who deserved better recognition to get their shot to continue playing football and possibly make it to the NFL.
For example, Yedidiah Louis was one of the most successful collegiate athletes ever produced by SHSU. In his senior season alone, Louis was a first-team All-Southland Conference wide receiver as well as SLC Offensive Player of the Year. In that same season he became the receptions leader in school history, led the SLC in catches with 76, receiving yards with 1,152 and receiving touchdowns with 14. He would end his career at SHSU with nearly 4,000 receiving yards on 294 receptions.
Even after his extremely successful career at SHSU, Louis went undrafted after his senior year and has never even gotten an NFL tryout.
Jeremiah Briscoe is another one of those players that deserved more attention.
Briscoe is not only the first SHSU player to win the Walter Payton Award (top offensive player in the FCS), but he won it twice. He also broke the FCS passing touchdowns record with 57, was an Associated Press first-team All-American, set the school record with 4,602 passing yards in a season, broke the record for most passing touchdowns in a game with seven in a Battle of the Piney Woods matchup among a number of other school achievements.
Briscoe also went undrafted and never got an NFL tryout.
With the XFL now in full swing, players like Louis and Briscoe will be able to get that second chance to continue their playing career. The league can spotlight Division II and FCS players and might be able to push them to the NFL to play out their dream.