‘Professional football, reimagined’ — Vince McMahon announces the return of the XFL

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  • Vince McMahon announced the return of the XFL at a press conference on Thursday.
  • Taking questions from reporters, McMahon outlined the basics of what the league would look like, and how it would distinguish itself from the NFL.
  • The league is scheduled to start in 2020, and has been billed by McMahon as “football reimagined.”

Vince McMahon announced the return of the XFL at a press conference on Thursday, claiming that the league will give fans the opportunity to experience “football reimagined.”

The league is slated to kick off in 2020 and will consist of eight teams, 40-man rosters, and 10 weeks of regular season play, leading to two semifinals and a championship game.

While speaking about the league, it was clear that McMahon was selling a very different version of the XFL than was initially pitched and broadcast for one failed season in 2001. Opening the press conference, McMahon asked viewers to consider what football would look like if it were reimagined.

“Would you eliminate halftime? Would you have fewer commercial breaks? Would the game of football be faster? Would the rules be more basic?”

Additionally, the concept of a “safer” game was mentioned a few times throughout the broadcast, a stark difference compared to the original iteration of the league, where escalated violence was used as a major selling point. When asked how the league would deal with the issue of concussions, McMahon said, “Reimagining the game of football means reimagining it on all levels,” and said one of the goals of the league would be to “Make it as safe as possible.”

McMahon took a serious tone throughout the broadcast, and was relatively light on details on the specifics of the league, but did lay out a few broad concepts the league would be built around. He mentioned that “The quality of the human being will be as important as the quality of the player,” and added that no player with any criminal history, even a DUI would be allowed to play in the league. He also claimed the league would remain apolitical, but when pressed acknowledged that players standing for the national anthem would likely be a part of the rulebook.

You can watch the press conference in its entirety below.

Rumors of the return of the XFL had been swirling since December, when Brad Shepard reported that McMahon was considering a revival of the league and was aiming to make an announcement in late January. A WWE spokesperson later told Deadspin’s David Bixenspan that McMahon “has established and is personally funding a separate entity from WWE, Alpha Entertainment, to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscape, including professional football.”

Days later, ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported that McMahon had sold $100 million worth of WWE stock, and that the filing noted that the sale was “primarily to fund a separate entity from the Company, Alpha Entertainment LLC.”

While the original iteration of the XFL lasted just one season and went down as a disastrous endeavor that ended up costing WWE $70 million, it’s not hard to imagine why McMahon thinks the time might be right for a revival. NFL viewership is down, and thanks to a slew of injuries to star players, the on-the-field product is not as good as it has been in recent years.

There’s still a long way to go until the XFL kicks off in 2020, but from the looks at in, McMahon is taking this second shot at creating an NFL competitor a lot more seriously than its original iteration in 2001.