Super Bowl LVII put an end to the NFL season, but fans don’t need to worry about having football withdrawal, not with two spring leagues playing games during the NFL’s offseason. Along with the USFL’s second season, which begins in April, the rebooted XFL is back after a two-year hiatus. The XFL will kick things off this Saturday, Feb. 18 — six days after Super Bowl LVII.
Here’s everything you need to know about the modern version of the XFL ahead of this weekend’s games.
Initially founded in 2001, the XFL was a joint collaboration between NBC and WWF, spearheaded by Vince McMahon. After a hot start, poor ratings ultimately led to the league lasting just one season. The league returned in 2020, with McMahon leading the reboot, but had to close its doors again after COVID-19 shut things down after just five weeks. The league filed for bankruptcy and was forced to sell.
A group that includes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson then bought the league out of bankruptcy for $15 million, eyeing 2023 as its return season. For cost-saving measures, each XFL team will train in Arlington, Texas, and will only travel for game days.
The league consists of eight teams that are split into North and South divisions. Here’s a look at each team, which division they are in, and who will be coaching them in 2023.
D.C. Defenders — Reggie Barlow
Seattle Sea Dragons — Jim Haslett
St. Louis Battlehawks — Anthony Becht
Vegas Vipers — Rod Woodson
Arlington Renegades — Bob Stoops
Houston Roughnecks — Wade Phillips
Orlando Guardians — Terrell Buckley
San Antonio Brahmas — Hines Ward
If you’re wondering what changed between the 2020 XFL lineup and the 2023 version, there is only one team — the San Antonio Brahmas — with both a new host city and new team name. Three teams have the same nickname but a new host city: The Vegas (formerly Tampa) Vipers; the Arlington (formerly Dallas) Renegades, and the Orlando (formerly New York) Guardians. The L.A. Wildcats are no more.
Several former notable NFL players will be part of the XFL in 2023. They include former All-Pro wideout Josh Gordon (Sea Dragons), former Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant (Vipers) and Vipers quarterback Luis Perez, a longtime NFL journeyman who started for the USFL’s New Jersey Generals last year before briefly spending time with the Rams.
Former NFL quarterbacks Ben DiNucci (Seattle), A.J. McCarron (St. Louis) — both of whom have started games in the NFL — and former NFL and USFL alums Kyle Sloter (Arlington) and Jordan Ta’amu (DC) will also take part in the XFL’s upcoming season.
Three former NFL first-round picks — quarterback Paxton Lynch (Guardians), linebacker Vic Beasley (Vipers) and safety Matt Elam (Guardians) — are also in the league. Lynch was the 26th overall pick in the 2016 draft by the Broncos. Beasley, the seventh overall pick of the 2015 draft by the Falcons, was an All-Pro in 2015 with 15.5 sacks. Elam was the last pick of the first round of the draft in 2013 by the Ravens.
Running back Matt Jones (Vipers) was a third-round NFL pick in 2015 by Washington. Two punters — Marquette King (Renegades) and Brad Wing (Brahmas) — started in the NFL.
Like the USFL, the XFL has a few rules that distinguish itself from the NFL.
Teams can score three points after scoring a touchdown if they elect to place the ball at the 10-yard line following a touchdown.
Unlike the NFL, the clock will start in the XFL following incomplete passes and out of bounds plays prior to the two-minute warning in either half. The clock will stop after first downs after the two-minute warning in either half. There will be 10-minute halftimes.
The XFL has adopted the XFL’s onside kick alternative where a team can try to keep the ball after a score by attempting to convert a fourth-and-15 from its own 25-yard line.
Teams can complete a double forward pass as long as the first completion does not cross the original line of scrimmage.
Overtimes will consist of alternating attempts from the opponent’s 5-yard- line. Each team will get three attempts or until a winner is declared.
How to watch
All 43 XFL games will be broadcast across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. Each game will also be streamed on ESPN+.
Week 1 schedule
Saturday, Feb. 18: Vegas Vipers at Arlington Renegades (Choctaw Stadium) — 3 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN+
Saturday, Feb. 18: Orlando Guardians at Houston Roughnecks (at TDECU Stadium) — 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN/FX and ESPN+
Sunday, Feb. 19: St. Louis Battlehawks at San Antonio Brahmas (at The Alamodome) — at 3 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN+
Sunday, Feb. 19: Seattle Sea Dragons at D.C. Defenders (at Audi Field) — 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+
Season schedule and playoffs
The XFL will play a 10-game regular season that will conclude Sunday, April 23. Four teams will then take part in two semifinal games, with the two winners participating in the XFL Championship that will be played on Saturday, May 13.