With popular sentiment in the NFL at an all-time low, there’s never been a better time to try and disrupt the monopoly that the NFL holds on North American professional football.
Vince McMahon, his new company Alpha Entertainment and the XFL are hoping to capitalize on that very moment.
The return of the XFL was officially announced by McMahon on Thursday.
“We’re going to give football back to the fans,” he said in the inaugural announcement.
When asked why he was bringing it back, McMahon called football “America’s favorite sport.”
McMahon revealed that the XFL would relaunch in 2020.
The league will feature eight teams with 40-player rosters. The season will be 10 games long, not including playoff and championship games.
The XFL will also own all eight teams, and will not franchise teams out like the NFL does.
He said all cities are being considered at this time.
The XFL, McMahon made sure to note, will have nothing to do with politics or social issues. McMahon reiterated that the league will focus solely on football, in a clear dig at the NFL.
Roger Goodell and the NFL have fallen under a mountain of scrutiny in recent years due to players protesting the national anthem and forcing social issues down viewers’ throats.
“[The national anthem is] a time honored tradition to stand,” McMahon said when he was pressed about any potential issues involving protests.
McMahon stressed multiple times that the XFL will not espouse anything political, and that players would adhere to a strict rulebook as far as issues such as behavior during the national anthem are concerned.
McMahon, long known for being the kingpin of the professional wrestling company WWE, established Alpha Entertainment as a separate entity from WWE.
The wrestling mogul sold off nearly $100 million in his WWE stock to help fund Alpha Entertainment.
The original XFL made its debut in 2001.
Despite massive initial ratings for the season opener, the league quickly collapsed.
Many felt that one of the biggest mistakes the XFL made was a lack of player preparation, which was reflected in poor play on the field.
The XFL seems to have learned its lesson this time around, with McMahon repeatedly saying the focus will be on quality football.
Another mistake the XFL made in 1999 was trying to appeal to a sizable pro wrestling fan base.
The 2020 XFL doesn’t seem to be making any sort of attempt at connecting the two, and will try to establish itself as a completely separate entity with a separate fan base.
If the XFL can truly stick just to the sport of football, as opposed to social issues, it may have a legitimate shot at disrupting the market.
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