The Seattle Dragons, the Northwest’s new professional football team in the revamped XFL league, makes a home debut Saturday at CenturyLink field. Sports commentator Art Thiel breaks down what to expect from this new organization.
WHAT'S THIS ALL ABOUT?
The Dragons are one of eight teams participating in a 10-week football season, which includes the playoffs, and Thiel says it is not affiliated with the NFL.
“Commissioner Oliver Luck has described their relationship to the NFL as ‘complimentary,’" Thiel said. "They are not trying to upset the apple card here of great NFL success as was the original XLF of 2001 with their scantily clad cheerleaders and the nicknames on the back of the jerseys.”
Art says the players and coaches are largely made up of people who dipped their toe in the NFL at some point and are looking to make it back in, or who just fell shy of making it into the NFL and are looking to showcase their talent.
Thiel says there are some noticeable rule changes. There is a 25-second play clock, which is 15 seconds faster than the NFL, designed to speed up the game. There are no extra point kicks, only pass or run plays, with a variation on how many points you can score based on where you choose to run the play from. But Thiel says the most noticeable change is the way players do kickoffs.
“Only the kicker is back at their usual position," he said. "All the kicking team players are up within 5 yards of the receiving team. That’s for safety, so players don’t get big running starts and have collisions that create head injuries. And it also opens up the possibility for the receiving team to score more often.”
HOW DOES IT LOOK AND SOUND?
Thiel says that if you are watching the game on TV, it will be fun because you can hear the coaches call the play on their microphone. They also will be doing interviews on the sideline with players after plays, so you can hear an immediate reaction from the players, be it positive or negative.
Thiel says that this league is a big experiment, and one that can potentially be entertaining for sports fans.
KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel’s website is Sportspress Northwest at sportspressnw.com. You can subscribe to podcast of these weekly chats at knkx.org.