If you’re an NFL fan who hates the idea of watching the upcoming expansion XFL play football, there’s hope for you. It’s just going to take a little bit longer than anyone expected.
Unfortunately, the XFL, a league that was almost certainly doomed to failure before it ever started because it was held up as a possible answer to the NFL’s flag-dropping rise to popularity, will finish up this year and take its lumps after the league’s debut playoff game in March. (Admittedly, fans hoping to experience their sacred Thursday night football with no other games on TV on the horizon may want to look elsewhere.)
And no sooner does the XFL’s charter member, the Philadelphia Soul, take the field at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday night than a different expansion team — the Baltimore Thunder — will face the Winnipeg Rainmen in Maryland in a contest that’s being played in front of an announced crowd of 3,500 in hopes of setting a new indoor-football attendance record.
So the worst XFL game in history may actually mean something, but it isn’t likely to happen at a cost. When the XFL came up with the idea of keeping costs down by using unproven footballs instead of NFL-style game balls (one of those vaguely satisfying details that we’ll show you in a bit), the original owners figured the costs would be $40,000 per game. That price made it feasible for the league to launch during the 2012 regular season. However, the rising costs of keeping them in play (to the tune of $800,000 per game), coupled with the owners’ reduced budgets, make the deal impractical for the new franchise owners.
But if fans who loathe the idea of players such as Washington’s Vernon Davis getting ripped apart in order to maintain NFL-level speed on the field and keep the lights on in Baltimore want to protest the XFL’s existence anyway, they needn’t go anywhere.
John Capconi, a die-hard Redskins fan who threw out the first pitch at Nationals Park during a 2011 game that also featured John Elway and performed before a nationally televised game for a Super Bowl jacket giveaway, had the idea for an XFL sign — specifically, “sell the team Dan” — which he was able to sport in front of the Ravens’ sideline during Baltimore’s season opener in February 2018. The Orioles’ game on Saturday night was broadcast on the XFL’s cable network, but there wasn’t anyone to see Capconi waving his message.
If there were fans who were looking forward to watching the Ravens-Tornadoes game in its entirety but were looking to show their displeasure in other ways, though, there was Capconi. If the Ravens had won, the XFL would have given Capconi a crystal ball with which to see if he’d gotten the fortune he hoped for, according to the Ravens’ Twitter account:
Get Out! Here is your crystal ball. When you needed us more than ever to find a way to get the most out of your pic.twitter.com/ceBjcQDWVb — Baltimore Ravens () February 10, 2019
Capconi’s maneuver got some media attention, but even worse for him was that when a Ravens fan waved an opposing team’s “Playoff Sabotage” sign during Baltimore’s last home game of the 2018 season in January, Capconi was heard. The next time the XFL is watching, Capconi is going to go in front of the referees, and when his “Sell The Team Dan” sign catches the attention of the referees, he’s going to use it as a showcase for the league. And if anyone wants to be that mystery object that the XFL does not need in its possession at a game in January, Capconi — or maybe a member of his family — is willing to carry the burden for them.