No one knows for sure just how seriously to take the XFL. Three years from now, one faction is going to look quite foolish and possibly still be wiping egg off their faces. Time will tell if it's a major success or failure.
But folks, I can already confidently report that breaking XFL news is an unmatched frontier in the media world. While the NFL's reporting hierarchy is clearly established and familiar to everyone who consumes the content, this new league is still defining whose corner is whose.
The chaos is real and, depending on your point of view, beautiful and pure.
Take the curious case of Pepper Johnson, who apparently parted ways with the Los Angeles Wildcats after his defense allowed 37 points in a season-opening loss. The first whiff came when a few people quote-tweeted this missive from @XFLNewsroom onto my timeline.
Clicking the link came back with a 500 Internal Server Error as the sweet, sweet traffic hit an untested site. Once the series of tubes were rearranged, this article was accessible.
"This wasn’t the only change though. Rumors started to swirl online that the franchise had let go of defensive coordinator and line backers coach, Pepper Johnson. This is after only 1 game, and 1 loss. There were other factors in their loss, starting QB Josh Johnson is still working through and injury forcing LA to rely on their backup."
Okay, I wondered. Where are these rumors swirling? The first tweet on the subject came from Konnor Folk, a credentialed XFL insider per his bio, for XFL NewsHub, which is not to be confused with XFL Newsroom. He didn't name Hamilton.
31 minutes later, @cast_viper, an account for a podcast about the Tampa Bay Vipers and XFL betting, apparently was the first to report Johnson was no longer on staff.
Now, I am sure everyone involved does great work. As an XFL neophyte, though, I was entirely unfamiliar with it. Finding an official release from the league or the team on their respective websites proved useless.
Meanwhile, the original tweet gained even more traction, all still without clear sourcing. Attempting to get answers, I began to seek out a contact for the Wildcats' media relations team myself when potentially the biggest name in all of football reporting came thundering over the top with confirmation.
Three minutes after Schefter's tweet, the Wildcats sent their own with a link to a story detailing the changes on the official site.
What a damn ride. One has to feel for Johnson for such an unceremonious dismissal. But the resulting wild goose chase was fun.
And it's worth considering the landscape as a whole for XFL scoopage. There are so many nuggets out there to be mined from hungry prospectors on the scene looking to make a name. If our first foray into breaking news is an indication, this will be a tremendous subplot to watch in real-time.