WWE’s Vince McMahon is reviving his XFL football league
World Wrestling Entertainment Chief Executive Vince McMahon is reviving his renegade football league, the XFL.
The wrestling impresario unveiled his plans Thursday in a video news conference with scant details beyond plans to have an eight team league that plays a 10-game regular season. He is targeting a launch in early 2020.
The league, which would start its playing season in late January or early February, is being funded through an entity led by McMahon called Alpha Entertainment and will have no connection with the WWE or its wrestling properties.
All of the 40-man teams will be owned by Alpha. The company has yet to designate cities for the teams and has no deals yet with broadcast and streaming outlets to carry the games.
McMahon is bringing back XFL, which operated for one season in 2001, to capitalize on the NFL’s current woes. After years of seeming invincibility, the NFL has experienced two straight years of TV ratings declines amid controversies over players kneeling during the national anthem, domestic violence by players, brain injuries and changing viewer habits.
McMahon believes the new XFL can counter the NFL with a product that is quicker-paced, less complicated and “family friendly.”
“This is going to be a faster game,” McMahon said.
McMahon said his players will be required to stand for the national anthem if that’s what the XFL rules require. Players who have run-ins with the law will not be welcome.
“The quality of the human being will be as important as the quality of the player,” he said. “If you have a DUI, you will not play in the XFL.”
When McMahon first launched the XFL in 2001, with games presented on NBC, the league was positioned then as a more freewheeling alternative to the buttoned-up NFL.
But the XFL lasted only one season as ratings for the games rapidly diminished after a strong start as there were issues with the quality of play and the reluctance of bettors to embrace a product from the WWE, which specializes in events that have predetermined outcomes.
McMahon said he believes having two years to launch the new XFL will help create a better league than the first go-around.
Lee Berke, a sports media consultant who has advised NFL teams, said the league has staved off upstart competitors before and does not see McMahon’s return with the XFL as a threat.
“With the exception of the AFL, every expansion pro football league that has taken on the NFL over the past 50 years has tried and failed, including the XFL,” Berke said. “While the NFL has challenges, the threat posed by a revived XFL will be minimal at best.”
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