Take Two — Vince McMahon Announces Return of the XFL
On January 25, 2018, Vince McMahon announced that he planned to relaunch the Xtreme Football League (XFL) in 2020. Mr. McMahon, CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), originally launched the XFL in 2001, The league was meant to be an extreme version of spring professional football. Even though NBC and McMahon each held a fifty-percent ownership stake in the XFL, NBC still pulled the plug after only one season. NBC cited low ratings, lack of top-level talent, lack of organization, lack of exhibition games, and bizarre rules, as reasons for ending the league.
Most recently, McMahon hosted a Q&A on YouTube where he explained the revamped XFL’s return. Simply put, the XFL will be much different than it was in 2001. The league will consist of will be eight teams, made up of forty man rosters. There will be a ten game season, and playoffs will feature a four team semi-final round, which will finalize in one championship game. Any city in the U.S. is eligible to have a XFL team; however, each team will be owned by the XFL, and its exclusive owner, Vince McMahon.
According to McMahon, “The start of this league has nothing to do with the NFL’s troubles.” However, evidence surrounding McMahon suggest otherwise. For example, he has been a longtime critic of the NFL; he coined the phrase “No Fun League” after the NFL restricted touchdown celebrations in 2006. McMahon is also a longtime friend of President Trump, another major critic of the NFL, and McMahon’s wife heads the Small Business Administration in President Trump’s Cabinet. In addition, some of the rules that McMahon outlined also suggest otherwise. For example, he said that players would not be given the forum to take a personal stance while on the playing field. Further, players with criminal records will not be allowed to play. McMahon said, “We are evaluating a player based on many things, including the quality of human being they are. If you have any sort of criminal record or commit a crime you aren’t playing in this league.” The new XFL rules come in the wake of the NFL’s recent struggles with its player’s national anthem protests, domestic violence incidences, and drug abuse issues.
There appears to be plenty of excitement surrounding the league. The day after the announcement, WWE’s stock hit an all-time high and last week there were more than 450,000 Twitter mentions of the XFL. McMahon sold about $100 million worth of WWE stock to fund the league. Laura Martin, a senior media analyst said, “When [Mr. McMahon’s] done other projects that have had some risk, he has funded them through the WWE … [the] fact that he pulled back here and is taking the risk himself is huge.” McMahon told reporters on that he has had no initial talks with media entities.