Don’t Call ‘Em The Bandits, But Tampa Bay Will Get An XFL Franchise

The rebooted, no-frills XFL will come to Raymond James Stadium in 2020

Tampa Bay’s football scene promises to grow even larger in coming years, as the soon-to-be-rebooted XFL will have a team in Tampa Bay when the new league launches in 2020.

The new league will take place in the spring, and sees itself as a developmental league for professional football players rather than a competitor to the National Football League.

Plans suggest that the Tampa Bay organization will play out of Raymond James Stadium, which is as much a matter of necessity as one of choice. After all, the only other football venues in the area at the moment belong to high schools.

Just like before, the league is the brainchild of WWE tycoon Vince McMahon, but beyond that little about the league will resemble the “extreme” football experiment that came and went so quickly.

In a question and answer session on Youtube earlier this year, McMahon explained his plans for the league. Games are expected to take place in roughly two hours, as opposed to NFL games that run well over three. There will be no politics apparent in the league, with McMahon’s personal friend President Trump not slated to be involved in any way, but at the same time players will have to stand for the national anthem and not make political statements while wearing a uniform.

Players with a criminal history will not be considered for the league, suggested the brains behind the league. This likely would also mean that players who commit criminal acts while in the league would be punished severely, or outright banned.

Calling teams “franchises” will be inaccurate in the XFL, as all teams will be owned by the league itself, with the teams’ owners really just having a share of the league. The new XFL will consist of eight teams playing over ten weeks of regular season, and a four team postseason.

There will be no cheerleaders, no unique rules, no gimmicks. The pyrotechnics and showmanship of WWE will remain in wrestling and stay out of football. In fact, even McMahon himself will be on the sidelines, with league executives coming from the football world rather than McMahon’s sports entertainment organization.

Many of the rules and ideas around the new XFL seem to be direct responses to the failures of the league in its first iteration. Rather than flash and flair, this league is under the impression that the game of football is all people want to see from a football league. The proposal looks much more like the upcoming Alliance of American Football than the league known for “He Hate Me” Rod Smart and particularly violent football.

What it will not resemble is the most successful competitor to the NFL in somewhat recent memory, the USFL of the 1980s. The USFL, through the demands of some of its more powerful owners, overextended itself with contracts to star players it could ill afford and an eventual push to play in the fall up against the big league, which was always going to fail. Likewise, this new team in Tampa Bay when it arrives in 2020 will not resemble the Tampa Bay Bandits with Burt Reynolds in the owner’s box and Steve Spurrier patrolling the sidelines.

The team has no name, logo, or management group. At the moment, all Tampa Bay has as far as a stake in the XFL is concerned is the promise of a team and a tentative place to play.

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Tim Williams has been covering sports since his days as a student at Northeastern University covering events such as the Beanpot. In the thirteen years since, he has covered college hockey, the NFL, Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour, and the National Hockey League. A native of the Tampa Bay area, Tim has returned home after living much of his life in the northeast, including sixteen years in the Boston area. These days the Managing Editor of Sports Talk Florida can be found on Florida's golf courses when he's not working.