BOB, GROZ AND TOM

Commissioner Oliver Luck tells Seattle what to expect with the XFL

Dec 5, 2018, 3:52 PM
Former NFL Europe head Oliver Luck is leading the next XFL as commissioner. (AP)...
Former NFL Europe head Oliver Luck is leading the next XFL as commissioner. (AP)
(AP)

It’s not every week that a city gets granted two new professional sports franchises in consecutive days, but that’s the reality in Seattle after the NHL’s expansion team approval on Tuesday was followed Wednesday by the new XFL announcing Seattle will be home to one of eight teams in its inaugural season in 2020.

Seattle among 8 cities awarded XFL teams for 2020 launch

While major league pro hockey is brand new to Seattle, pro football isn’t. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a whole slew of questions to answer about the XFL. Lucky for us, XFL commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Groz and Tom on Wednesday afternoon to shed some light on what to expect.

The XFL is not a developmental league, but…

Luck understands that might be how the NFL will look at the XFL. He said he put out courtesy calls to all of the NFL teams in markets the XFL will be playing in, including talking to Seahawks general manager John Schneider, and that was at least partially why the people on the other line were receptive.

“They’ve all been very supportive,” said Luck, who ran an actual developmental league, NFL Europe, in the 1990s. “They all miss the league that I used to run, NFL Europe, because of the opportunity that those teams had to send players to that league and test them out.

“The XFL is not a developmental league for the National Football League. That’s certainly not our intent. We want to build a self-sustaining business and a self-sustaining franchise, but I think nonetheless the NFL personnel folks at the team level, and at the league level to a certain degree, would love to see another league be there so they can scout and see if players can be developed.”

Not the same XFL

The original XFL played one season in 2001, and the reason it is still remembered is because, well, it was brash and rushed too quickly into action and ultimately a gigantic flop. And while this XFL is the brainchild of WWE’s Vince McMahon just like the first one was, Luck said it’s far from the same thing – otherwise the former NFL quarterback and father of Indianapolis Colts star Andrew Luck wouldn’t be involved.

“I watched a little bit of the XFL 2001 – I was not impressed, to be honest with you,” he said. “I didn’t watch a lot of it but was not impressed with the quality of play and not impressed with sort of the bravado associated with the way the game was presented. When I started to talk to Vince about this position and the re-launch, I said, ‘Vince, it has to be done better – much better – and it has to be done in the proper fashion.’ … What I liked about Vince and what I really admired is he recognized they didn’t do it well the first time around.”

The old XFL had a few innovations that are still in use today, however, and there are some parts of the league’s lineage that will live on.

“We absolutely have our work cut out for us, no question about that, but I also think there were a handful of things that Vince did fairly well the first time around,” Luck said. “The whole Skycam concept came directly out of XFL, the idea of sideline reporters – remember how controversial that was back in 2001? … The idea of paying players a bonus, even if it’s a small bonus, for winning games. Fans like that because that resonated with their own lives. ‘I’m going to work a little bit harder if I know there’s some extra money on the line.'”

You can hear the full interview with Luck in the player embedded in this article or at this link.

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Commissioner Oliver Luck tells Seattle what to expect with the XFL