Many sports fans of a certain age will remember when WWE’s Vince McMahon walked out onto the field to introduce his brand of football in 2001. With a fierce and raspy voice that would be suitable for a wrestling promo, he declared: “Thiiiiiiis iiiiiiiis the XFL!”
Well, multiple reports suggest that McMahon may be working on tuning up his vocal cords and once again announcing the return of the league.
In fact, that could come in a little more than a month from now.
EXCLUSIVE: Vince McMahon is looking to bring back the XFL and may announce it on January 25th, 2018.
— Brad Shepard 🤘🏻 (@TheBradShepard) December 16, 2017
It's true. I said it a few months back. I wasn't joking. https://t.co/zBR4hVGxhf
— FrontRowBrian (@FrontRowBrian) December 16, 2017
WWE released a statement to Fightful.com about the reports that its chairman and CEO was looking to reignite the old professional football league.
“Vince McMahon has established and is personally funding a separate entity from WWE, Alpha Entertainment, to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football,” the statement said. “Mr. McMahon has nothing further to announce at this time.”
Nothing is confirmed as to the return of the XFL at this time, but it’s worth monitoring.
The XFL’s only season came in 2001 before it collapsed and operations ended in May of that same year. It consisted of eight teams in Orlando, Fla., New York, Chicago, Birmingham, Ala., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Memphis, Tenn., and Las Vegas.
The last game played was the “Million Dollar Game” in which the Los Angeles Outlaws defeated the San Francisco Demons, 38-6, in the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on April 21.
The XFL branded itself as being different from the NFL by not having the same rigid rules. Most notably, fair catches on punts were prohibited as any ball traveling more than 25 yards was a live ball that could be recovered by either team.
However, the on-field product flopped and the viewership nosedived as the season went on, leading to the end of McMahon’s investment.
It’s too early to speculate, but one can’t help but think of how loose the XFL was previously with rules that involved player safety. There has been massive attention given to concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the neurodegenerative brain disease that has shaken up the NFL over the last several years.
The XFL would have to tiptoe a lot more carefully when it comes to differentiating itself from the NFL in this era as opposed to the start of the century.