As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect all aspects of life, another league has been forced to take undesired action.
The XFL on Friday informed all employees via conference call the league is suspending operations, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported. Employees are being paid through Sunday, but the future is uncertain beyond that date, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported. There was no discussion of when operations could restart, Garafolo added, per a source informed of the call.
“The word they used was ‘shut down,'” one XFL employee told Pelissero.
The XFL began play one week after Super Bowl LIV and caught on with football fans across the country, providing a fresh game with a handful of new rules (most notably an innovative take on kickoffs and point-after attempts) to watch in what is usually a dead period for the sport. Instead of being forced to find another game to watch, viewers tuned in every Saturday and Sunday afternoon for XFL doubleheaders split between ABC/ESPN and FOX. The league offered a closer look at the game than is standard elsewhere, with immediate sideline interviews taking place during the action, microphones on coach headsets giving fans an inside look at the play-calling process, and full video review transparency with direct connection to the booth official and the microphone worn by each game’s referee.
Though attendance numbers weren’t astronomical, the reboot of the XFL was largely well received and even helped some standouts — Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker, for example — get another chance in the NFL.