Turkey and football. They just go together, don’t they?
To the XFL, though, they are one and the same. The turkey is the football.
I received a delivery this morning. Inside the box, there was a turkey, or at least something wrapped like a turkey, netting and all. This “turkey” was considerably more oblong. A lime green medallion on the packaging declared that whatever was on the inside was “fast and tasty.” So I bit.
The contents: the XFL’s re-reimagined official game ball, a decided departure from the ball the professional spring league used during its first run in 2001.
Since wrestling promoter Vince McMahon announced nearly two years ago that he was reviving the XFL, the league has tried to rebrand itself as “football reimagined.” Football doesn’t need to be fixed, league executives and spokespeople are careful to say; it just needs some tweaks.
The new XFL ball, which the league (along with manufacturer Team Issue) has spent the past year developing, is in keeping with that vision. For the most part, it looks and feels familiar. It’s the same old one-pound spheroid wrapped in leather.
So what’s different this time around? There isn’t just one game ball. There are eight of them. One for each team. The adornments and logos match the teams’ color schemes. The Tampa Bay Vipers’ ball, for example, features a large green “X” front and center with gold “XFL” lettering and a white “Vipers” wordmark underneath.
The white (and, in the Vipers’ case, green) Xs on the points of the XFL ball are what set it apart from its NFL and NCAA counterparts. They’re more than a decoration to make spirals look cooler; they will help receivers to track the ball more easily, the league said in a statement.
The texture of the ball is different, too, though it’s easy to miss at first glance. Instead of traditional pebbling, it features a series of interlocking X marks, what the league is calling “X-Pebble grip technology.” Fancy.
“The football feels great,” Vipers quarterback Aaron Murray said. “It throws well, and I love the texture. The fact that each team has their own ball is going to be a really cool part of game day — Vipers fans are going to want one. December can’t get here soon enough. I can’t wait to get it in our playmakers’ hands.”
Teams will begin using the ball when minicamps start in December. During the season, which kicks off in February, offenses will use their team’s custom ball.
The ball is available for purchase at XFL.com. It costs $125.
Contact Thomas Bassinger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tometrics.