Plan Nine from Outer Space is one of the worst movies ever made. The XFL’s plan for a Team Nine could be one of the best ideas the resurrected league has had.
At a recent XFL Summer Showcase, Commissioner Oliver Luck confirmed that the league will have a Team Nine of 35-40 players representing all positions, with the players staying in shape and being ready to join one of the other eight teams as needed.
“What we want to try to avoid is our teams having to sign players off the street,” Luck said. “Example, Dez Bryant signed with the Saints this past NFL season, the first ten minutes of . . . that particular practice he tears an Achilles [tendon]. And so we want to avoid that. That’s quite honestly a costly Workers’ Compensation claim, so we want to have a group of guys that will be based in Dallas who basically are staying in shape. . . . We think that because of our 25-second play clock our game is going to require quite honestly a little bit better conditioning than what some of these guys may be used to in the NFL or the CFL. So it’s important that these guys are in shape, and it’s hard to stay in football shape on your own. That’s been one of my beliefs. You need to be around others.”
It’s a smart play by the XFL to have an extra roster of guys who are in the right kind of shape to join one of the eight teams when injuries create an opening. While it’s not the kind of thing that will deliver ultimately success, it’s a small example of how the XFL is thinking strategically about the various challenges the league will face.