This won’t be your father’s XFL.
Vince McMahon’s rebooted pro football league will not embrace a rough-and-tumble brand of football. Instead, it’ll be committed to health and safety.
The XFL announced on Monday the establishment of a health advisory committee, with Dr. Julian Bailes serving as the league’s chief medical advisor. The health advisory committee also includes Dr. Larry Lemak and Dr. Claudia Reardon.
Bailes rose to prominence as an early supporter of the Dr. Bennet Omalu’s research that led to the discovery of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, calling out the NFL for trying to downplay Omalu’s findings.
“They were trying to blackball him, lock him out, marginalize him,” Bailes said in 2009. “He was the whistle-blower.”
The XFL also has appointed Daniel Wright to serve as V.P. of health and safety. He will prepare and maintain the XFL’s health, wellness and safety policies, procedures, and protocols, and he will hire, supervise, and evaluate the eight team athletic trainers.
“The health and safety of our players is an important focus on our path to reimagine football and deliver a great product to fans when we kick off in February 2020,” XFL Commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck said in a release. “Putting in place the right experts and medical professionals is key. Our health advisory committee will work closely with our football operations department to create protocols and build best practice guidelines that put player health and safety at the forefront of everything we do.”
These developments make it less likely that the XFL will pivot to a more old-school style of football, one that plenty of fans currently crave (some secretly, some loudly). Of course, if the XFL fails to make a sufficient dent within the first few years of its renewed existence, the league could decide to let grown men assume whatever risks they choose to assume, and to embrace a style of play from the ’70s and ’80s that, frankly, is jarring when viewed in comparison to today’s standards and expectations.