“The ‘X’ is for ‘EXTREME.’ What has happened to my life?”
~Michael Mink, CEO and Commissioner of X-League Indoor Football
This week, in celebration of National Professional American Indoor Football Week, which is a fake event that we made up to justify this whole enterprise, we have been writing extremely longwinded articles about various professional indoor football leagues and their teams. This honestly-pretty-weird idea for a themed week of articles has seen us write about the Indoor Football League and the Professional Indoor Football League, both of which pay their players about $200 a game to sacrifice their bodies while possible over 100 bloodthirsty fans cheer for their demise like the gladiators of old.
While we already know way more about semiprofessional indoor football leagues than anyone really should (technically they’re “professional” because they get paid, but when we’re dealing with salaries this low, calling these leagues anything more than semiprofessional is like claiming to be an auto parts salesman because you once traded your old station wagon to Carmax) we’re going to that well one more time to tell you about the newest and, if we’re being perfectly honest, stupidest participant in the overcrowded arena football game.
No seriously, this gets kind of dumb. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Anyway, let’s talk about…
The History of the X-League Indoor Football League
The X-League came into fruition in 2013 when Michael Mink, one of the co-founders of the American Indoor Football League joined forces with Kacee Smith, who as far as we can tell is some guy who apparently started a minor league team when he was 19 and was like “sure, this.” The league’s mission statement (it actually has one, yes) is “to support, promote, and develop athletes in order to prepare for the next level of football, provide a high quality entertainment experience with our fans, and ensure the financial stability of all X-League teams, while creating a positive impact in the communities of our teams.”
Apparently they do this by making a bunch of wacky rule changes and, as far as we can tell, paying their players even less per game. Admittedly, there’s not much history to delve into here. They’ve played through exactly one season, last year, with five teams participating, which made the first championship about as meaningful as the winner of a 4-person game of Mario Kart. Surprisingly, they’ve expanded impressively in the offseason. With their second season getting underway, have six new teams playing, bringing the league total to 10 (the Savannah Steam left to join American Indoor Football, probably for reasons completely unrelated to their 0-8 last place record last season). This makes them a more viable league than, say, the Professional Indoor Football League currently, but if we’ve learned anything from this week’s indoor football features, it’s that you will just about never see an offseason where these leagues don’t add and/or lose multiple teams. It’s basically the small attendance football version of Wife Swap.
So every year, your indoor football league has a chance to get the Northern Kentucky River Monsters, and their star attraction, 320 pound quarterback Jared Lorenzen
Before we go through the ten teams currently trying to make the most out of the $3,500 salary cap (with a roster of 25 players, that comes to about $140 per person, though it’s probable that the six Practice Squad members in that total don’t get as much cash) we’re going to take a moment (several moments, actually) to go over the rules of the X-League, because they are, um, unique. You know how sometimes people say something is “unique” because it’s nicer than saying “stupid and crazy and weird and get away from me”? Yeah. These rules are…unique.
The field is the same size as just about every other arena football league, 28 yards wide and 50 yards long (technically it’s 85 feet, which is just a foot wider), and eight players on the field per side. After that, though, things get stupid. They still have the rogue and UNO kickoff rules that other leagues have (as a refresher, a rogue is when you get a point for forcing a touchback, and an UNO is a point for getting a kickoff through the uprights) but, instead of determining possession with a coin-toss like a loser, they have something called the X-Dash instead.
No not this. What is wrong with you? That’s three articles in a row you’ve completely misread a rule as an unrelated pop culture item.
Now, some of you might remember 2001’s XFL, which was hilarious and dumb, but which also though coin flips were for pussies. They had an “opening scramble” where two players lined up at the opposite 30-yard line and raced towards a ball placed on the 50, basically fighting each other, with the person who won choosing when they get possession. It was super random, and kind of hilarious because players totally got injured doing it. Well, the X-League saw that and said, “sure” and now we have the X-Dash. The X-Dash differs from the opening scramble in terms of “trying not to cause injury” which also makes it “basically a silly little race.”
No, stay with us, because this is way more complicated than anything that’s replacing “heads or tails? Cool” should be. Two players lie down (yes, on the ground) with their heads facing towards midfield, possibly while thinking about why clouds are so fluffy. When the whistle is blown, they get up and sprint towards midfield, where two balls are place. They each pick up their own ball and try to be the first person to reach the endzone. If you win this silly little race, you can choose to take possession at midfield to start the game, or defer possession at midfield to the second half while the loser has to start on their own 5 yard line. The winning team also gets two points, because the X-League is extreme and also because they give out random points all the fucking time. We probably just scored a point in the X-League because we went to the water cooler before writing this sentence.
“The America Fun Facts scored a point for proper hydration, and two points for snazzy attire.”
Other random “what why how but um okay then” scoring quirks of the league include.
- While a field goal is three points, it counts as four if you make it with a drop kick. This rule also is in play in the Arena Football League and the Indoor Football League
- You receive a point for any defensive stop (you thought we were joking when talking about how readily they give out points). This includes a recovered fumble, interception, turnover on downs, or blocked field goal, but interestingly does not include a regular missed field goal. We’re not sure what the rule is for those times where a defensive player mayyyybe grazed the ball with their finger but you can’t be sure.
- You get eight points for any defensive touchdown, excluding extra points. You get a point for the turnover, six points for the score, and another point for just being so super at what you do, we guess.
- Also, punting is illegal. While there’s no points given out for that, we just wanted to point out that their rule book says that verbatim.
- Finally, and most crazily, in the final minute of the fourth quarter, a special ball (the X-Ball, which is colored differently than regular balls and is also used in the X-Dash) is brought out for the X-Bonus period (we’re not joking). During this period, the offensive team must advance the ball past the line of scrimmage for the clock to continue running (meaning a 1 yard gain is actually worse than getting sacked) and any scoring team can attempt a four point conversion by placing the ball on the 25 yard line and trying to score. This is a rule because reasons?
If you want to see what this looks like in action, check out this nine minute clip of highlights where you can really appreciate how small everything feels in real life. Now that we’ve got that stupid mess of random out of the way, let’s talk about the teams. As always, these are listed in reverse order of how hilarious we find them.
Founded in 2005, and moving to the X-League just this year after spending two years with something called the “CPIFL” which, you know what, we don’t care enough to look up what that stands for, this Bloomington, Illinois team originally was called the Extreme before they changed it for reasons that we will never understand. When your team is “Extreme” why would you ever water it down into something as boring as “Edge.” That’s a shitty team name, and it’s made even worse with the knowledge that their name used to be so much better.
You might think that they had to change names when they joined the X-League because it might be confusing to have the “X-League EXTREME” but you’d be wrong—the name changed prior to the 2012 season, when the team was bought by Jim Morris, who we now irrationally hate. Fuck you, Jim Morris, why’d you have to choose such a boring name? Man. What a wasted opportunity.
With a boring name, but a cool logo. Admittedly, a blue racer is a type of snake, but it just doesn’t have the same pizazz as your Vipers or your Cobras or, hell, even your Coppermouths. We’re not sure what’s more surprising, the fact that the 36,000 residents of Marion, Ohio (“oh, okay, that’s where Marion is, I had never heard of it” you likely said) have a professional (ish) sports team, or that the Blue Racers are the second team they’ve had. Admittedly, they’re part of the greater Columbus area, which is where they probably get their dozens of fans, but still.
The Racers joined in 2015, after originally planning to play the inaugural season of the X-League before re-signing with the CIFL (Continental Indoor Football League) for one last season in 2014. They actually made it to the championship game for the CIFL last season, but had to leave due to the CIFL coming down with a severe case of the “stopped existing as a league” at the end of last year.
The Georgia Rampage have a great name and a logo that’s trying too hard. They’re also based in Dalton, Georgia, which has a city population of 33,000 and a metropolitan population of 142,000, which implies that it doesn’t understand what the word “city” means. They started as members of the Ultimate Indoor Football League from 2012-2013 before joining the X-League as it started up, finishing with a record of 2-5-1 and a point differential of negative 102, which probably was the result of them losing 52 X-Dashes or something.
They started off as the Rome River Dogs before licensing issues caused the team to change their name to the Rampage (which somehow isn’t a licensing issue, despite the Grand Rapids Rampage that plays for the Arena Football League). The team’s Wikipedia pages says that this particular issue occurred because “¯\_(ツ)_/¯”
Either way, the team moved in 2013 after being purchased by Amer Awad and Kacee Smith (yes, the one who helped set up the X-League) and the name was changed to the Georgia Rampage, where it remains to this day, under-performing despite having an owner who literally can rig the rulebook in his team’s favor. Needless to say, this is not the team we’d choose to root for in this silly league.
This league has a lot of teams from Texas, which would surprise us except for the fact that Texas is super nuts about their football. Hell, you could start a football league in Texas called the “If You Go To Watch This Football Game Someone Will Come To Your House And Make Sweet Love To Your Wife In Your Absence Football League” you’d still manage to get a few thousand people to attend games weekly. Among those teams that apparently Texans are paying to see are the Sol, the second team in this weekly series to share a name with exactly one other team, only to have that team be a WNBA franchise (Yes, Miami, we get it, your NBA team is the Heat, so your WNBA team is the Spanish word for sun, very cute).
The Sol play in Hidalgo, Texas, a town of 11,000 that is just on the American side of Mexican border, making it the smallest city to host an indoor football league by a wide margin. In fact, the Sol aren’t even the first indoor football team to come out of Hidalgo, there have been three teams that call Hidalgo home. Like we said, if you put football in Texas, people will watch it, no matter what. They play in the State Farm Arena, which has a capacity of 5,500, or, you know, roughly half of the entire town. This team baffles us, but there’s no use trying to make sense out of Texas. Anyway, they were founded in 2014 where they played in the Lone Star Football League, finishing in 2nd place in the regular season before getting suspended from the playoffs for “failing to meet LSFL obligations and deadlines.” So they basically got kicked the fuck out and decided to join the X-League. We’re sure that’ll go over just great.
That’s such a badass logo for a needlessly wordy team name. Don’t try to gussy it up, Florida, your team are pirates. Don’t give us this Marine Raiders shit, you’re talking about pirates, just be the Pirates. Apart from that, the Raiders are based in Lakeland, Florida, a city in central Florida with a population of 100,000, which is a population that actually could sustain a semiprofessional sports team! *glares at Hidalgo*
They joined the United Indoor Football League in 2012 as the Lakeland Raiders before leaving in 2014 to play the inaugural season of the X-League. With the move came the name change, possibly because their original name wasn’t extreme enough, but that’s just conjecture. The Pirates (shut up, you’re pirates) finished the league in second place, participating in the X-Bowl I, losing to the St. Louis Attack by a score of 60-48, meaning they either will be juggernauts in the league or, most likely, they’ll play like one more season before jumping ship to some other league, just like every team that plays indoor football does.
Cape Fear Heroes
You’re thinking about that movie right now, aren’t you? Don’t be shy, we totally are too. No, the Cape Fear Heroes, knockoff Patriots-like logo and all, are based in Fayetteville, North Carolina, which…is actually not near Cape Fear (an actual place) but is just randomly on the Cape Fear River, which seem stupid, but hey, congrats, North Carolina, on your team that’s not the Panthers. Fayetteville is actually much larger than anyone outside of the East Coast would have expected, with a population of 200,000, and have had an arena football team since 2012 when they joined American Indoor Football and won the title in their debut year (indoor professional football pretty much is the definition of parity), but they decided to join the X-League starting this year because, sure. In their entire history, including postseason games, they have a record of 23-4, with an undefeated 7-0 campaign in 2012 followed by consecutive 7-1 first place regular season finishes (if you can make sense of how they managed to have a 7 game season followed by two 8 game seasons, please tell us, because we have no fucking clue). So, if we had to guess, when they start in the X-League, they’ll probably end up with a record of “the fuck if we know. 6-2?”
Ha ha ha they named their team the tampons that’s so funny and…
*intern whispers in ear*
The fuck is a tarpon?
So like, just a fucking fish?
That’s stupid. Wait, so this is just some random team named after a fish based in Estero, Florida, which is a town with a population of 18,000?
So, just to get this straight, they played for the Ultimate Indoor Football League for 3 seasons based in some small as Gulf of Mexico adjacent town, then moved over the X-League this year, and they named themselves the Tarpons, not the much funnier name of tampons, and they expect us to give a shit about them?
No, fuck that. This team’s stupid. Also, why the hell does this league have two different teams listing themselves as just from “Florida.” This is stupid. Fuck this team. We’re done here. Get us a beer, dammit.
Fuck yes. That’s what we’re talking about. Name your team something awesome, like fury, and give it a pissed off dragon mascot? Yes. All about that, 100%. The Fury hail form Corpus Christi in Texas, and are old souls in the game, having been around since 2004. They joined the X-League in 2015, making it their 7th league in about 11 years, so they’re basically your serial monogamous friend that doesn’t want to get married but can’t stand being alone. They started as the Corpus Christi Hammerheads, which is a good name, but this might mark the first time where a name change (which occurred in 2013 in this case) was actually a marked improvement from the original. Fury. So great.
Comically enough, their one title came in 2014, when they won the Ultimate Indoor Football League in the most depressing fashion ever. They started the season as one of four teams remaining in the league (along with the Tampons Tarpons, the Miami Inferno, and the Missouri Voodoo), only two have the Inferno and Voodoo both fold in the middle of the season. So, sure, they beat the Tarpons in the Ultimate Bowl IV, but they won a championship in a league with two fucking teams. They might as well have won a flag football game in their parent’s backyard.
To be perfectly honest, this was kind of disappointing. Listen, here’s the thing. The St. Louis Attack played a season with the Ultimate Indoor Football League in 2013 as the Missouri Monsters, which is a great name, before they moved to the X-League as the St. Louis (though they’re based in St. Charles, a town of about 65,000 that’s 25 miles away) Attack. In the first season of the X-League, they won the title with an undefeated 8-0 record. We thought, this team is a juggernaut. The Attack is a fairly unique name that could be either really great or fairly disappointing depending on the logo.
And then they just gave us a teal football shaped to look like The Arch. “Here, we’re a football team, fuck you” they seem to be saying. We expected more from you, St. Louis. Damn.
If we’ve learned one thing from this series of articles, it’s that we need to find better uses of our time. But, if we’ve learned two things, it’s that we need to find better uses of our times, and that indoor football team logos are either boring or the best things ever. This is poetry, this is art. The double guns. The hat. The Z, that totally pointless Z! Birmingham’s Outlawz, an expansion team founded in 2014 as an expansion team for the X-League’s inaugural season, pretty much gave us everything we expected from the St. Louis Attack, and then ramped it the fuck up. A disembodied, double-barreled purposeful misspelling, dancing under the moonlight, saying, “Come on down, y’all. Watch our silly team play this silly league. It starts with two players taking a nap, then running as fast as they can to get two points. And punting is illegal. It’s illegal, y’all. Join us. Join the X-League.”
Damn it, Outlaws, you make it sound like heaven.
Oh wait, never mind, no, awesome logo and Z’s or not, X-League is still super stupid and ridiculous. Forget we said anything.