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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A reboot of one of America's most infamous sports leagues kicks off this weekend, with billionaire wrestling mogul Vince McMahon betting once more that football fans are hungry for more football.

What they're saying: Whereas the old XFL leaned on gimmicks and stunts when it first launched (and failed) 19 years ago, the new XFL is presenting itself as a league focused entirely on quality of play and the on-field product.

  • "Aside from the name, there is nothing in common that we will have with the league in 2001," commissioner Oliver Luck told NYT.
  • The old XFL "was a lot of fun ... but it wasn't presented on television as real football," said Tom Luginbill, who coached one of the original teams and will broadcast games for ESPN. Now, it's "football and football only," he said. "There's no gimmicks."

What to know...

1. The teams: The XFL will have eight teams in 2020, divided into two divisions. Washington, New York, St. Louis and Tampa Bay are in the East division, while Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle are in the West.

  • Dallas Renegades: HC Bob Stoops, QB Landry Jones, RB Cameron Artis-Payne
  • DC Defenders: HC Pep Hamilton, QB Cardale Jones
  • Houston Roughnecks: HC June Jones, QB P.J. Walker, WR Sammie Coates
  • Los Angeles Wildcats: HC Winston Moss, QB Josh Johnson, RB Elijah Hood
  • New York Guardians: HC Kevin Gilbride, QB Matt McGloin
  • Seattle Dragons: HC Jim Zorn, QB Brandon Silvers
  • St. Louis BattleHawks: HC Jonathan Hayes, QB Jordan Ta'amu, RB Christine Michael
  • Tampa Bay Vipers: HC Marc Trestman, QB Aaron Murray, RB De'Veon Smith

2. The rules: The XFL is marketing itself as a faster version of the NFL and has publicly stated that it wants games to be played in under three hours.

  • No extra point after TD: Instead, teams can go for one, two or three points by running a play from either the two, five or 10-yard-line, respectively.
  • Multiple forward passes: Teams can throw two forward passes on the same play as long as both happen behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Reinvented kickoffs: In an attempt to increase the amount of returns while also making them safer, only the kicker and receiver can move before the ball is caught.
  • OT is a shootout: If regulation ends in a tie, both teams run five plays from the five-yard line and get a point for each score and a point for each defensive stop. The team with the most points at the end of the "shootout" wins.
  • One foot inbounds: To record a catch, receivers only need one foot — or any other part of their body — to touch the ground in bounds, rather than the two feet needed in the NFL.
  • No replay challenges: All reviews are initiated by a replay official.
  • Running clock: The clock doesn't stop outside of the final two minutes of each half.
  • Shorter play clock: 25 seconds, instead of the NFL's 40.
  • Fewer timeouts: Two per half, instead of the NFL's three.

3. Season format: Teams will play a 10-game schedule with five home and away games (no bye week). The top two teams in each division will face each other in a one-game division championship (April 18–19), followed by the league championship game (April 26).

4. TV coverage: Thanks to deals with ESPN/ABC and Fox, the XFL is much better positioned than the AAF, which debuted with strong ratings on CBS last year but faded when games moved to smaller platforms (and then imploded).

5. Sports betting: Unlike the NFL, the XFL will allow its broadcasters to openly talk about betting lines, and they will be show on-screen during telecasts. Meanwhile, on the radio, the league has partnered with VSiN (Vegas Stats & Information Network) and iHeartRadio to create audio "BetCasts," which will cover live games through a wagering lens.

The bottom line: When the XFL debuted at the turn of the century, sports fandom was much more regional, Facebook and Twitter hadn't even been invented yet and sports betting was illegal outside of Nevada. Two decades later, the landscape has completely changed — and so has the XFL's approach.

The full XFL schedule
Screenshot: XFL.com

This weekend...

  • Saturday: Seattle Dragons at DC Defenders (2pm ET, ABC); Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks (5pm ET, Fox)
  • Sunday: Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians (2pm ET, Fox); St. Louis BattleHawks at Dallas Renegades (5pm ET, ESPN)

Go deeper: XFL 2.0 unveils teams and logos

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

New wave of strikes will test worker power

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thousands of John Deere workers hit the picket line this week after the union smacked down a new worker contract from the farm and equipment maker.

Why it matters: There’s a wave of worker angst spreading across the country. They wield new power that’s come with a historic worker shortage.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
5 hours ago - Technology

The smart city comes of age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Better sensors, more intelligent AI, and the coming wave of 5G wireless could finally fulfill the promise of the smart city.

Why it matters: How we organize, run and power our cities will be increasingly important in the years ahead, as urbanization expands and the damaging effects of climate change compound.