LOS ANGELES, CA-The XFL has officially cut into the Los Angeles pro football market. At a press conference on May 7 on The Terrace at LA LIVE, league officials introduced the head of the Los Angeles franchise, former NFL star Winston Moss.
XFL Commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck, XFL President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Pollack, and Heather Brooks Karatz, president of the Los Angeles XFL franchise, were on hand for the introductory press conference.
Moss, who played in the NFL for 11 seasons before retiring and going on to become an assistant coach with various teams in the league, was excited about his first head coaching opportunity.
“It’s special,” Moss said. “It’s something I wanted to do for a long time. I feel as though I paid my dues and I’m thankful for Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck for reaching out to me and giving me this opportunity.”
Moss played linebacker throughout his NFL career, which included stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, and Seattle Seahawks. He spent the bulk of assistant coaching career with the Packers where he eventually was promoted to associate head coach under former Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy.
“I am so appreciative to have the opportunity to be a head coach and GM in the XFL, especially in a city where I spent four years as an NFL player,” Moss said. “Starting a team and a league from scratch is unique and exciting, and I’m looking forward to working with Heather and her team, to develop a new football franchise for Los Angeles.”
During his tenure with the Raiders (1991-1994), Moss played for the franchise when the team called Los Angeles home. He gushed at the prospect at being able to now coach a professional football organization in a city he once starred.
“It has a rich, storied tradition,” Moss about the city of Los Angeles. “I mean, this is L.A. This is the Lakers. This is the Dodgers, this is USC. This is UCLA.”
The competition for consumer attention will be an uphill climb for the XFL Los Angeles team, which has not been designated with an official name yet. Besides the plethora of professional and college sports around town, there is also the ever-luring attraction of Southern California beaches and amusement parks to compete against.
By being the third wheel in an already two professional team town, the XFL Los Angeles organization, which will call Dignity Health Sports Park home, will have an added advantage in galvanizing the pro football-thirsty fan. The XFL begin play in 2020, right after the Super Bowl. The regular season will feature just 10 contests of game-action.
This approach to a new brand of professional football has been visited before. Just recently the Alliance of American Football (AAF) suspended its operations. The Arena Football League was forced to close shop. Then there is the once-fledgling United Football League (UFL), among others that tried a different approach to the professional football market.
The NFL is still standing. So how will the XFL fare any better than those other leagues that failed? One reason could be the infrastructure put in place. From top to bottom, NFL remnants are all over the XFL-from executives to coaches. Asked to compare the model that the XFL has in place for longtime sustainability to that of the AAF, Pollack said his league’s approach is on a distinct pathway.
“It’s totally different,” said Pollack, who served in the capacity of chief marketing and strategy officer for the Chargers before taking on his role as president of the league. “Our business plan is different. Our leadership is different. Our TV distribution is totally different. Every game will be nationally televised. We have a partnership with ESPN and ABC and FOX Sports. We’ll have maximum reach for all of our games. That’s tremendous, in terms of building the fan base. We’re in different markets; we’re in NFL markets. So, we’re going where football fans live. We’re excited about that.”
Karatz echoed Pollack in saying that the XFL will be presenting a whole different product than the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.
“This is a different product and we really spent a lot of time doing our due diligence,” Karatz said. “Vince McMahon has spent a lot of time and energy and put a lot of resources towards making sure that we are doing this the right way. Waiting until 2020 to launch the league has really given us the opportunity to build this the right way.”
As for her new head coach, Karatz said Winston’s background both as a player and coach in the NFL makes him the right for the Los Angeles franchise.
“Winston has an impressive resume as a player and coach in the NFL and is the perfect choice to lead our Los Angeles team on the field,” Karatz said. “His passion for football and commitment to providing unique access to our fans makes him the ideal partner for what we’re looking to accomplish. We’re going to work together to give the people of Los Angeles a great football team and exceptional fan experience.”
The players lining up on the field for Moss will have to bring a couple of things to the table in order to be part of the team, the head coach said.
“Mental toughness and smarts and effort,” Moss said. “You’ve got to be able to play the game from above as opposed to thinking you can only be a physical talent; this game is played from a mental level now.”