There is an overabundance of hot takes and misinformation swirling around the cancellation of The Spring League season and the effect on spring football in general. More specifically, the XFL. XFL Twitter is hot and heavy right now and I want to address some of the more outrageous takes.
There is a lot of chatter about the end of TSL. As we all know, the TSL season ended early due to positive coronavirus tests. There are people that are implying the coronavirus was used as an excuse and there were actually other reasons for cancelling the season. I believe that the season ending had everything to do with coronavirus and nothing to do with any of the other factors discussed later. There were some questions around testing protocols, but the overall impression I have received from talking to several players is that the league did OK. Not great, not perfect but OK. The truth of the matter is that coronavirus is still very much unknown and expecting the TSL to handle it perfectly when the NBA, MLB and NFL have not been able to is a pipe dream.
Some people are also talking about a dated story about the TSL not paying coaches. It is true that there were rumblings about coaches not getting paid early in the season and possibly walking out. This was later revealed as a paperwork issue with the direct deposit process that was quickly resolved. In short, it ended up being a non issue and to use the story to imply some sort of financial problems within the league is lazy and deliberately ignorant.
A video released by Poop Mane on his YouTube channel “Talking Shit” also caused quite a splash. The video was posted by an individual claiming to be a player for the Jousters. In this video, the individual (who does not identify himself) details several shortcomings in the testing protocols, meal plans and league/player communications. Some players publicly confirmed parts of the video and some players publicly said it was out of line and inaccurate. Talking to several players off record, the impression I received was that the video was not completely wrong, it just focused entirely on the negative and none of the positive parts of the league.
There has also been talk about the “disappointing” viewership numbers and questionable future of the FOX/TSL partnership. XFL writers and fans have questioned FOX’s willingness to move forward after viewership was lower than expected. The expectations were set when it looked like there would be no college football to compete with. It is no surprise that the numbers were lower and it appears that FOX understands that. The news broke this week that FOX is moving forward with plans to purchase an ownership stake in The Spring League. I think that is a strong indication that FOX expects TSL to thrive and be around for a long time.
If this was the extent of the hot takes, I probably would have just disregarded the whole thing and moved on. If people want to focus on the most negative side of things that is their right. It’s not the approach I would take, but to each their own. However, it does not stop there. A writer then proceeded to use these negative and/or misinformed takes to somehow spin this as being a negative for the upcoming 2022 XFL season. The TSL and XFL are not the same. It’s like comparing apples to rushing attempts per game. They are not related. The whole idea behind TSL is that it is an exhibition league with the goal to get players game film for scouts. The idea behind the XFL is to be a professional football league. Players pay to participate in TSL. XFL pays players to be professional football players. Brian Woods net worth is not found by Google. The Rock and Dany Garcia alone are with $340 million combined.
The audacious claim that the cancelled TSL season will sour “football business insiders” on the XFL is flawed. There is no reason to think TSL wasn’t cancelled due to the coronavirus. Even if it was, The Rock doesn’t care about business football insiders. He cares about putting fans in the stands and in front of the TV. To suggest that TSL’s cancellation will have any effect on the XFL beyond there being less tape for XFL scouts to watch is ludicrous. The XFL will be fine and expect a great season in 2022.
Garrett Schreur is a Contributor for Unwrapped Sports Network. Follow him on on Twitter @Garrettfromiowa