The XFL is Back
When Vince McMahon sold off a ton of his WWE stock to fund a new company, Alpha Entertainment LLC, we knew what was coming. Alpha was founded to be a company to explore investment opportunities in the sports and entertainment fields, and the XFL felt like the perfect fit for that.
Around noon, Alpha tested its livestream for an upcoming press conference by using the graphics and set they would use at 3pm. This confirmed the rumors. The XFL is returning.
Originally announced in February of 2000, Vince stood up in front of a large crowd at WWF New York and stated that this would be smash-mouth, hardcore football dedicated to dethroning to what he called, the No Fun League.
One year later, with the backing of NBC Sports the XFL debuted in prime time on national television to high ratings, but things` quickly fell apart. The games were terrible at first. Injuries were occurring at a high rate due to the lack of rules protecting players during the game. Teams were not cohesive units that knew what they were doing due to the small amount of practice time they had before the season started. The product suffered, and so did the ratings.
As the ratings fell, Vince returned to his roots promising looks inside the cheerleaders’ locker rooms and providing gimmicky segments during games. This didn’t help viewers returned and the XFL folded after its first season.
If there’s one thing we know about Vince McMahon, it’s that he doesn’t take failure lightly, and today he showed he was ready to take his second shot at a professional football league.
In a press conference, streamed from Stamford today, Vince took questions from the media on what the future of the new league would be. 8 teams. A faster game. Easier to understand rules. A safer game. Get paid to play and get paid more to win. It’s football: reimagined.
I didn’t take the time to count how many times the word “reimagined” was used during, but describing it as A LOT would be an understatement. It’s very clear Vince wants to stay true to the game of football, but make it more approachable for the fans. This was part of the promise of the original XFL, but if feels like this time will be different. Without the showmanship and attitude of the original league, it would be completely possible for this to happen.
The Chariman noted today that he would not be “out-front” in this league. He plans on hiring leaders in sports, entertainment, and medicine to lead this league. With the two year lead time he is giving himself this time, it can happen. There is a lot for Alpha Entertainment to accomplish in this period to lay the foundation for a functional, profitable, and competitive football league.
The main question that was presented echoed the sentiments many people expressed when the rumors of a new XFL started swirling. Is this a reaction to the current political and social controversies surrounding the NFL?
While Vince wouldn’t openly answer this question, it is safe to say that that certainly played a part in the decision to try this again. Many reporters asked if players would be forced to stand for the national anthem. While never answered directly, it seems the answer would be yes. Mr. McMahon spoke at length about the fact that they will be looking for players that are not only skilled at football but are people of character. He alluded to a code of conduce and rulebook that would have to be agreed to to play in his league. In the same breath, he also talked about standing for the anthem being a time-honored tradition at sporting events. It’s hard to imagine that this would not be a requirement of players.
Now, in the wake of this announcement, we’re left with more questions than answers. The 10 teams that will exist don’t have cities or venues. There is no one leading a competition committee. No one is signed to play for a team. Where will games air? Are we going to be watching on our televisions or on connected devices? What is going to come next for the XFL?
I believe that it’s safe to assume this time, the XFL will start with a better footing than it did before. The mistakes that were made in 2001 should not occur again. There were many things that went wrong, and many things that went right that reshaped the way sports are presented today. Will the XFL truly be able to reimagine the sport of football? That is yet to be seen.
Will Vince McMahon give it every ounce of effort he has to make it succeed? We know he will. That’s how he works.
Only one thing is for sure; there will be plenty of gas in the generators for the broadcast trucks at each game.