What was once considered an abysmal failure during its first and only season years ago now looks like a comeback story. With so many notable names from football’s past playing in the XFL, the lack of either Colin Kaepernick or Johnny Manziel will likely raise a few eyebrows.
As with most things, the betting world is taking notice. Gamblers could get a hefty payday if either player decides to join the upstart league.
What is the XFL?
The XFL first began in 2001 as a way to bring football to the NFL offseason, reports The Washington Post. Launched by the WWE’s Vince McMahon, the league branded itself as the more extreme, bloodthirsty version of football. Its rules emphasized tougher, quicker play as well as some theatrics one would associate with wrestling.
The XFL was a failure and ended after one year. Recently, however, the league achieved cult status, and things are looking up after its inaugural games. The XFL got off to a strong start both in attendance and TV ratings, showing there was a place for football outside of college and the NFL.
Where does the XFL get its players?
One aspect of the XFL is both a detriment and an appeal: its pool of talent. The league doesn’t thrive on the backs of retired All-Stars as The Big 3 does in basketball. Instead, it looks at players who are still in prime shape but never quite made it to the NFL full-time.
Cardale Jones, Connor Cook, Landry Jones, Rashad Ross, and several other bigger names are on the field. But the league still lacks the type of star power that could attract fans by the droves.
BetOnline.ag recently released odds on former NFL players who could find themselves on an XFL roster if the interest was mutual. Former star receiver Chad Johnson has the best odds despite being in his forties. Josh Gordon, who’s struggled to stay in the NFL due to drug suspensions, had relatively good odds at 10/1. Controversial quarterback Michael Vick boasted 50-to-1 odds, while similarly controversial former defensive end Greg Hardy is a long shot at 100/1 odds.
Manziel and Kaepernick, however, may be the most intriguing names on the list thanks to their relative youth and big names.
Johnny Manziel’s XFL odds: 12/1
Johnny Manziel was once touted as a budding NFL superstar, but his hard-partying ways combined with his on-the-field struggles made him a two-season burnout in the NFL. Since playing in the pros, Manziel has tried his hand in other leagues. He boasted some success in the Canadian Football League but the Montreal Alouettes waived him after he failed to report to several meetings.
Back in the states, Manziel joined the failed upstart Alliance of American Football, which quickly folded after he played only two games. After these flops, the 27-year-old has yet to show he can give any football league a boost.
Manziel could add name recognition to the XFL’s roster of talent. But commissioner Oliver Luck stated that the league does not need Manziel, according to Sporting News.
Although the former quarterback was in the draft pool, he was not drafted. Manziel, who undoubtedly has some sour grapes with the league after not being chosen, did not help his case when he predicted the league’s demise after week one.
Colin Kaepernick’s XFL odds: 20/1
There may not be a more mutually beneficial signing to the XFL than one involving Kaepernick. Due to his protests, the former QB has become the exact type of folk hero or villain, depending on who is asked, for the XFL. The fact that he’s still getting NFL workouts also shows there is some interest at the highest level.
Kaepernick’s persona could be holding him back, however. McMahon stated that protests will not be tolerated during the national anthem. Furthermore, the quarterback was reportedly seeking $20 million from the XFL. Currently, the league’s highest-paid players make less than $1 million each.
Kaepernick’s future in the XFL may be iffy, but if the league can prove its legitimacy and raise its pay, Kaepernick could be huge for a league looking to legitimize its image.
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