Vince McMahon Announces Return of XFL, Will Debut in 2020

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2018

LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 24:  World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon is introduced during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announced the return of the XFL professional football league in conjunction with a business venture called Alpha Entertainment on Thursday.  

McMahon issued a statement and held a conference call that was shown on Alpha Entertainment's official Twitter account:

Alpha Entertainment @alphaentllc

@VinceMcMahon's Major Sports Announcement https://t.co/bObgCGf8Na

He announced the league will launch in 2020 with eight teams playing 10 games apiece in the regular season prior to a four-team postseason.

McMahon also said the following regarding how games will be presented, per WWE's official Twitter account"Our approach to presenting games will be multi-platform, which will allow us to engage fans and customize the viewing experience in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago."

Among the things McMahon discussed were reimagining professional football by simplifying the game and having more action with fewer lulls in between in hopes to limiting the games to two hours.

The video prior to McMahon's opening statement also mentioned fewer infractions and fans having the ability to engage in fantasy games and betting related to the XFL.

According to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell, McMahon suggested rules will be in place to ensure all players stand during the playing of the national anthem, saying, "People don't want social and political issues coming into play when they are trying to be entertained. We want someone who wants to take a knee to do their version of that on their personal time."

Additionally, McMahon stressed the importance of the XFL's players having high moral character and said players with a criminal past will not be invited into the league.

ESPN's Arash Markazi noted McMahon said the XFL will stand alone and there will be no crossover with WWE, unlike the original version of the league.

The NFL reportedly will offer no comment on the XFL, per Rovell.

After Brad Shepard of TheBradShepard.com reported in December that McMahon planned to revive the XFL and announce it on Jan. 25, a WWE spokesperson released a statement that confirmed McMahon's interest in pro football.

In the statement provided to Deadspin's David Bixenspan, the WWE spokesperson mentioned the creation of Alpha Entertainment and the types of investments McMahon was looking to make:

David Bixenspan @davidbix

A WWE spokesperson issued the attached statement to me & @Deadspin in response to my inquiry about tonight's rumors of a soon to be announced XFL revival. They declined further comment. Whatever Vince McMahon's "Alpha Entertainment" is, it's self-funded & separate from WWE. https://t.co/oT0Oxyi2fV

Shortly after that statement was made, Rovell released multiple reports suggesting McMahon's return to football would become a reality.

In addition to filing five trademarks related to the XFL, per the United States Trademark and Patent Office, McMahon sold 3.34 million shares of WWE for approximately $100 million, according to records from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

As part of the filing, it was revealed McMahon sold the shares primarily to fund Alpha Entertainment.

Before Thursday's announcement was made public, PWInsider (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Joshua Gagnon) reported McMahon planned to launch his new football league in 2020 in order to allow time to have a "proper foundation" in place.

McMahon's previous foray into professional football was widely panned as a massive flop.

The now-72-year-old launched the XFL in 2001, and he held joint ownership in the league along with NBC.

As detailed in the 2017 ESPN 30 for 30 documentary entitled This Was the XFL, ratings on NBC were strong at first but quickly waned, and there wasn't enough support to warrant a second season.

The original XFL featured eight teams playing 10 games each during the winter and spring of 2001.

The Los Angeles Xtreme defeated the San Francisco Demons in the Million Dollar Game to become the first and only XFL champions.

While the XFL attempted to set itself apart from the NFL by loosening on-field rules, allowing players to wear nicknames on their jerseys and employing some WWE-style gimmickry, the venture didn't work.

The on-field product lacked in terms of overall quality, and few players enjoyed any success in professional football after the league folded.

XFL MVP Tommy Maddox became the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002 and '03, while Rod "He Hate Me" Smart spent time as a kick returner and running back for the Carolina Panthers.

Specifics regarding rules, potential players and coaches, as well as franchise locales, remain scarce, but McMahon is back in the football business, despite the multitude of issues he encountered in his first attempt.