XFL Is Coming Back; Two Hour Games; 10 Week Season; Kaepernick Welcome But No Kneeling

Vince McMahon is relaunching the XFL football league.

McMahon originally introduced the league on NBC in 2001. It lasted one season, but this time will be different says the wrestling impresario. Instead of flashy cheerleaders and gimmicks, the new XFL – set to launch in January 2020, will have eight teams around the country playing on a 10 week schedule.

“I think the most important thing we learned with the older XFL and now the new XFL is the quality of the play,” he said. “We have two years to really get it right.”

McMahon said he didn’t know whether teams would allow nicknames on the backs of jerseys, as Rod “He Hate Me” Smart made famous. He also said he didn’t know which eight cities would get teams. “We’re way away from announcing (that),” he said.

The initial cash outlay for the project is expected to be around $100 million – which is coincidentally how much WWE stock McMahon sold last month and transferred to his new endeavor for the project, Alpha Entertainment.

“I wanted to do this since the day we stopped the other one,” McMahon told ESPN in an exclusive interview. “A chance to do it with no partners, strictly funded by me, which would allow me to look in the mirror and say, ‘You were the one who screwed this up,’ or ‘You made this thing a success.'”

The original XFL opened to great fanfare in 2001 with pro wrestling-style intros, salaciously outfitted cheerleaders, mic’d up coaches, fewer rules to protect player safety (described as “real” football) and an “opening scramble” rather than a coin toss. The X in XFL stood for “extra fun,” McMahon said at the time.

But it fizzled quickly, lasting only one season. Ratings plummeted and a double-overtime game caused “Saturday Night Live” to be delayed, angering officials at league co-owner NBC.

McMahon called the league a “colossal failure.”

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Another difference between the NFL and the XFL will be compensation; players will make more for winning. “To me that’s common sense,” McMahon said. “Everyone in America lives when they perform, they get a raise or bonus. That’s capitalism.

In a documentary about the XFL entitled “30 for 30,” McMahon and his partner in the 2001 endeavor – former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol, pondered the possibility of relaunching the league once promoted as having fewer rules and rougher play than other leagues. 

“I don’t know what it would be,” McMahon told Ebersol, adding “I don’t know if it’s gonna be another XFL or what it may be or how different I would make it. It seems like in some way it would tie in either with the NFL itself or the owners.”

As Mike Florio of PFT wrote in December:

Arguably, the time may be right for the XFL or something like it. A November 2016 Sports Illustrated article regarding the current state of football in America created the distinct impression that fans want old-school football, with all the big hits and none of the obsessions over safety.

Those attitudes from fans coupled with the messages that invariably will be sent by the incoming Commander-in-Chief,” we wrote on November 16, 2016, “suggest that the time may be right for someone to roll the dice with $250 million or so in the hopes of launching a football league that would essentially operate like a modern-day XFL — loud, proud, violent, brutal, bloody, and everything that the NFL was before political, legal, and social sensitivities forced the league to change.”

 

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