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Soccer is on everyone’s minds with the World Cup fast approaching, and if there’s one thing those crazy footballers know how to do, it’s punishing a team that flat-out stinks. Relegation is my favorite part of soccer, specifically the EPL. With tanking becoming more and more obvious in the NFL, and the utter incompetence of some front offices being put on display, why not talk about what relegation would look like in the NFL?
Enter: The XFL
I can smell what the Rock is cooking, probably some terrible football (at first). In case you missed it, the XFL officially launched LINK HERE their new team names, logos, and uniforms ahead of their kickoff in February of 2023. One of the bigger mistakes of the AAF and previous XFL leagues is that they weren’t connected in any way to the NFL. To be a standalone competitor to the NFL was a bold business model, and it’s obvious why that failed. The new iteration of the XFL is aiming to correct that, as they announced a collaboration with the NFL for player development, physical and mental health programs for players, and testing new game rules. While it’s not a clear sub-league of the NFL, it’s a step in the right direction toward having a secondary football league for players and fans alike.
The NFL’s Tanking Problem
I could simply paste a YouTube video of the Bengals-Panthers game highlights from Sunday and that would tell you all you need to know about tanking. The problem with the NFL is that every season, there are between 1 and 5 teams that are so poorly run, either by design or unintentionally, that they end up landing a high draft pick, grab a generational talent, and have no process in place for their future stars to thrive. The Panthers exemplify this, as rumors spread after the trade deadline of them turning down multiple first-round picks for players like D.J. Moore and Brian Burns. If you’re supposed to be building for the future, take the picks and run. You can get discount versions of those players in the draft without spending big money on contract extensions for your established stars.
The Colts are in a similar spot, although with less draft capital and slightly more talent. Honestly, I feel bad for Sam Elhinger, the kid is not an NFL quarterback and he’s been thrown into the fire on a poorly constructed and coached football team. Seriously, Jeff Saturday as an interim head coach? The guy has only coached high school football and had a losing record during that time.
It seems like some of these teams have no incentive to get better. Their owners are happy with filling up half of the stadium, taking a shot at whatever quarterback falls to them in the draft, and repeating the process over and over until they land their Patrick Mahomes. Good luck with that. So, how do we fix this?
Send ‘Em Down!
This isn’t a fix for this year, and maybe not within the next five years, but the only logical way to prevent tanking is to implement a relegation system with the XFL. If you watched any of the XFL or AAF games from 2019 to 2020, you know that the new XFL wouldn’t be ready for an immediate relegation system. Although there were some players who successfully made the transition from those leagues to the NFL, as a whole, the XFL wouldn’t be ready yet. But give the new XFL a couple of years, with investments into the players, talent, facilities, and organizations, and I bet you can put together some damn good football teams. Some teams that would be ready to make the jump and compete with the Panthers, Colts, and Texans of the current NFL. We’re far away from the Cinderella story of the XFL team rising through the ranks all the way to a Super Bowl title, but it’s a possibility. And it’s the only way to light a fire under the behinds of these lazy NFL owners who refuse to do anything about improving their franchises. It’s a pipe dream, but man could it be fun.