Greetings! We’re two weeks away from Christmas, the Madden app is finally out and I’m writing about yet another great league in the Madden community that deserves recognition for it’s ambition, longevity and commitment to its members. Please join me in congratulating XCFL as we recognize them as December’s League of the Month. Before I get into the Q&A with Jim, XCFL’s commissioner, let me say that I absolutely LOVE several things about this league. I do not however love Jim’s NFL team choice. Being a Steeler fan makes me very uncomfortable about you as a person, Jim. Ok – that’s all I’ll say about that. What I am continually finding impressive and shocking is how long some of the leagues we see in the Madden community have been around. I remember playing in my first league on PS2 and it seemed like such a small community back then – not so apparently. Jim, like me was playing Madden Franchise back then too and like all of us that have been at this for a while, he’s learned a lot along the way too. I think that’s what happens when you have a passion for playing this game in a league setting that spans 4 different game systems. More about that from Jim later.
What’s also cool about Madden leagues is how much guys put into designing things for their leagues. When you think about the content that MBL generates, the Twitter presence of leagues like NEFL, MEE and newer leages like Ballers Bowl, websites like MOF and heck, even the genius of Daddy Leagues – it’s incredible to see what guys do for their leagues. Side note to casual gamers and punks – League Crawler partly exists to weed you scrubs out by creating a place where your mis-deeds can be documented for all the community to see. I say that because, one look at XCFL’s website and it’s obvious – Jim and his team LOVE their league, their guys and are dedicated to it. League Crawler is dedicated to helping promote and protect leagues and their members. XCFL has done the work, put in the time and thought and dedication to make something their members should be proud of. It’s worth protecting and definitely worth recognizing as League Crawler’s December League of the Month!
Now – enoug of my soap box, on to my Q&A with Jim from XCFL!
1. How long has XCFL been around and why did you decide to start the league?
The XCFL technically has been around since 2004 under the name of the BDL, the XFA, and Average Joes. We have evolved from the Playstation to PC, to the Xbox 360 and now the Xbox One over the years. The name XCFL came at the beginning of Madden 16 when we had a falling out with our co-creator and decided the league needed a fresh start, so we retired the XFA brand and became what we are today. The reason I decided to start the league was due to the first ever league I joined back in 2004, the BDML, was being commished by this guy named Larry who was real sketchy and a horrible leader who did everything in his power to make sure he never lost. He made rules to effect his own game and tried to boot anyone who beat him. So the XFA co-creator, Robert Williams, who I meant in the BDML, and I decided to hold a coup and take over the league from Larry. Thus the birth of our original brand, the XFA.
2. How many other leagues have you been a part of and how have those experiences influenced XCFL?
Over the years I have mostly only playing in leagues that I was a commissioner in. The BDML, XFA, Average Joes and now the XCFL. I did venture off a few times and join some side leagues but with running my own league I never really had the time to dedicate to those other leagues. One in particular was the JSFL which was ran by this cool ass dude Johnny Squeeb. I learned a lot from him about how to be a good commish and put the league’s best interest first before my own and any other members. He was probably the biggest influence in how I do things in my league to this day.
3. What was the most difficult thing in getting the ball rolling in the beginning with XCFL?
I think the most difficult thing starting a league was when I first got into madden and running leagues no one had a website or used forums for communication. There was no GroupMe or Daddy Leagues, etc. We used Yahoo Instant Messenger. It was a real pain to recruit and share news and info. So I decided to build my own website. The problem was, I had no idea what I was doing. So I became self taught and learned and fell in love with the process of designing websites. I went to school and got a degree and changed careers and now I do it for a living. Before that I was a camera operator for the local news. Funny how a simple video game can shape our lives.
4. Tell me a funny story about something that happened in your league?
This may not be a funny story to many but some will understand. When our league co-creator and I started playing in Madden leagues together our eldest kids were both 3 years old and we would play games while bouncing them to sleep on our knees like most fathers do. Then as the years past, before we knew it they were both 15-16 years old and playing in our leagues with us and kicking our butts in the process. That is before we had a falling out and went our own ways. But both our kids still play in our individual leagues and make us proud everyday doing so.
5. What is your favorite part of running a league? Least favorite part?
My favorite part of running the league has to be building the website and the design aspect first but I also love the satisfaction of knowing I am part of a community of like minded gamers who I consider my friends and family. These guys are what makes the league work. The XCFL is only as strong as our members and the staff that give it their all daily to help run things. Knowing they love the league and what it stands for is huge. On the days I get burned out and just want to call it a career, I just remember they are my friends and family and why I do what I do and it keeps me going. My least favorite part has to be dealing with problem members. Guys with bad, me first attitudes. I am fine talking to people who break rules and working with them to become better owners but the ones who only care about their own team and wins and give the attitude that people are just mad because they couldn’t beat them and don’t care about the rules, those guys ruin my day. Dealing with horrible team owners I guess is my least favorite part. We even created our number one rule out of this frustration and it is “Don’t be a dick”. have fun and be respectful to your fellow members!
6. You’re a web designer – how are you able to use those skills to help make your league successful?
As I mentioned above my career in web design was born from my love of Madden and the leagues I have been a part of creating over the years. It has helped in several ways as well as it gives us a great tool for communication, posting league created content and monitoring member activity. We can save league history and such as well. Not to toot my own horn but I feel we have one of the best sites in the Madden CFM community. There are some great leagues out there with awesome sites but we pride ourselves on being the best one and our members notice this, new recruits want to be a part of what we are creating, so it helps bring in new members as well.
7. How many people are a part of the XCFL staff? What are their roles? Have you always been the commish?
Our staff is made up of 6 corp. members who handle the day-to- day operations. But we consider the entire league staff as well. We run things as a democracy and encourage member input on everything we do. The main staff consist of myself as the Commish, Andrew Linhart as President of Football Operations, Daniel Whitehead as President of Officiating, with Shawn White, Bryan Baker and Al Ferreira rounding out the staff as members of our Players Association and rules committee.
8. What are the two or three things that your league does best?
I think what our league does best is we try to treat every member as friends and family. We demand everyone treats each other with respect. We also offer a full madden experience with a league magazine, a YouTube show & podcasts, team twitter accounts, news articles and more! We are a league that plays from August to August as well, so members never have to deal with downtime.
9. What are one or two things that XCFL is doing that people may not know about?
I think the main thing we are working on is getting better at the podcast and YouTube show. Our guys do a great job but they are self taught and each one gets better and better as they learn new ways to do things. We have some talented guys doing them and we hope to some day compete with leagues like the MBL with our video content. We are also working on developing a secondary league called the XCFL Redzone. Our hopes is it becomes a recruiting or developmental league for the main XCFL which we call Primetime. This way we know exactly what or who we are getting when guys get the call up to the main league and it will eliminate getting bad owners and cut down on owner turn around.
10. What’s next for XCFL?
What is next for the XCFL? Just to try and get better at everything we do. To continue to grow our brand and evolve as a league to offer the best possible experience we can to those we call our friends and family and who grace us with their presence in the XCFL. We don’t have to be the biggest or most popular league, we just want to be the best possible one we can for our family of 32 like minded individuals.
11. Why do the Steelers constantly injure Bengal players and then act like Vontaze Burfict is the dirtiest player in the NFL? Do you have anything to say for the actions of Kimo von Wilkes Boothe and his low blow to Carson Palmer’s knee? Is it true you guys burn couches for playoff wins AND losses? Do people of Pittsburgh leave lawn chairs in their parking spots to reserve them for future use? No – I’m not a salty Bengals fan at all, ha!
Well I take it you are a Bungals fan. Which is awesome by the way. As a Steelers fan we need you guys to pick on every time we win or we would be bored. lol. Honestly as much as we pretend to hate Burfict, we would love him if he was a “Stiller”. As for dirty players, I think all teams have guys who play really hard and hit even harder. If that is what we call dirty, I want 11 of them on my team. James Harrison comes to mind. He and Burfict play a lot alike and the hits they dish out can be seen both as dirty and just hard nosed football, depending on your perspective. The difference is Harrison isn’t twisting ankles in the pile or kicking guys when he gets up off the pile like Burfict, which is what gives him his dirty player rep. And damn right we leave lawn chairs in our parking lot and every other teams parking lots as well as no other teams fans travel like we do baby. As for burning couches, have you seen us Steelers fans, we are fat out of shape hard working blue collar people, no way we burn our couches and have nowhere to sit our big asses down to watch the game lol….Go Stillers… #HereWeGo Pittsburgh
User Spotlight : Who are the top three members of XCFL?
It is so hard to just name three as we have 32 great owners. So I will name the ones I think do the most for the league as both members and on the staff.
Andrew Linhart, for his dedication to the league and staff. He is my right hand man and one of the best co-commishes I have had over the years. He is basically me in my absence. I trust fully he will make the right decisions when I am not around and he goes above and beyond daily to make my job much easier.
Al Ferreira is our reigning content King. He by far goes out of his way to post news, team articles, and just about anything you can think of. He utilizes Twitter perfectly and is even on our staff as well. On top of all that, Al is dipping his toes into being one of our Podcasters and doing a great job at it as well.
Bryan Baker along with Andrew, does a Podcast for us called Mike and Ike as well as being on the staff and helping run day-to- day operations. All while tending to his wife who is on bed rest pregnant with twins. His time and dedication is heads and shoulders right up their with anyone else. Shawn White and Dan Whitehead are valued staff members who also make the world go around with the help they give. Both have very time consuming jobs though so they are unable to contribute as much as they wish.
Honorary mention has to go to some of our longest tenured and most creative and interesting members like Coach Boone, Coach Yoast, Benny the Great, David Leon, our reigning Super Bowl Champs Jason, our resident foreigner AirV23, my son Zach, and frankly every other member. They are all great and without them there is no XCFL. So I say thank you to everyone of you silly bastards!
Any final comments?
The number one goal of the XCFL is to create a full service Madden league experience. From news and content to Twitter, podcast and video shows. We are more than just another Madden league though; we are a community of like minded individuals who have become friends and some like family.
Daddy Leagues: http://www.daddyleagues.com/XCFL