In a press conference with his new business venture, Alpha Entertainment, Vince McMahon announced that in 2020 the XFL would see a return to the world of sports. The XFL’s lone season to date occurred back in 2001. It was a fresh, yet unorthodox approach to one of the most popular sports in the United States and was a good idea in theory.
The league failed to maintain steady viewership and quickly disbanded after the conclusion of the inaugural season, mainly due to the presentation of the game. There was too much focus on the cheerleaders and the league tried too hard to be an edgy alternative to the NFL.
Naturally, people were quick to criticize the announcement. Many predict that the league will fail in its second debut, similarly to its first demise. While it’s fair to have doubts, any sports fan should realize the need for an alternative to the NFL, especially when there is a long period of time during which there is no football on television.
McMahon, being the business mogul he is, presumably would not bring back the XFL if he didn’t believe it could work with some big changes. In the press conference, he addressed some of the big questions that people would predictably have, given the league’s failure in its first attempt.
Unlike the 2001 season, McMahon made it clear that there would be no crossover with his other big sports entertainment company, WWE, which focuses on professional wrestling. The XFL bore too many similarities to WWE — called the WWF at the time — such as over-the-top characters, scripted segments and an overall silliness that shouldn’t be present in football.
Another major alteration this time around is that McMahon will not run the league himself, delegating responsibility to more experienced executives. He received a lot of criticism for showing a lack of understanding about how a football league should operate last time and the decision to allow experts to make the big picture decisions this time is both welcome and intriguing.
While the original XFL mainly featured low-level former collegiate players and seasoned NFL veterans, McMahon stated the plan for the new XFL is to attract bigger names that the league can market itself around. When asked if the league would reach out to former NFL quarterbacks such as Colin Kaepernick and Johnny Manziel, McMahon danced around the question and blatantly said the league would not allow players with a past criminal record, which would eliminate the possibility of Manziel playing in the XFL.
If the league can attract big names such as Kaepernick or free agent Robert Griffin III to play quarterback, more viewers will watch the product in the NFL offseason, which means more money will go to the XFL to make improvements on the product continuously.
McMahon mentioned that the new XFL is definitely considering the opinions of fans in how the league should be presented, and that he wants to create the league in the fan’s image. This is exactly the problem with the NFL, a league that doesn’t consider their opinions and forces them to sit through endless commercials and witness poor officiating.
If the XFL is successful, it will only push the NFL to make changes in order to remain in favor with fans who are disgruntled with the product. In the end, both leagues being successful is an exciting scenario for sports fans. Here’s hoping that the XFL can prosper almost two decades after its initial collapse.