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Seattle's newest professional football team makes home debut this weekend

(AP Photo/Will Newton)
Seattle Dragons running back Kenneth Farrow runs against the DC Defenders during an XFL football game, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Washington.

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.


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.”


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 You can subscribe to podcast of these weekly chats at

Kevin Kniestedt is a journalist, host and producer who began his career at KNKX in 2003. Over his 17 years with the station, he worked as a full time jazz host, a news host and produced the weekly show Sound Effect. Kevin has conducted or produced hundreds of interviews, has won local and national awards for newscasts and commentary.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.