The XFL, which quietly pioneered new TV technologies now familiar to modern NFL fans, is making a comeback in 2020.
Vince McMahon will serve as commissioner of 8 teams.
“Mr. McMahon” says estranged NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick would be welcome to play…but that ALL players in the XFL will be required to stand for the national anthem.
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It’s McMahon’s second attempt after the original XFL, backed by WWE and NBC, folded after one season in 2001.
Professional football is the most popular programming on television in the U.S., with games attracting $2.42 billion in ads during the regular season. It’s also shown weakness in recent years, with viewing and commercial spending declining. McMahon said his league will stay away controversies that have dogged the NFL, like players’ national anthem protests.
On conference call with reporters, McMahon said he’d welcome players like Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who started a national movement by kneeling during the national anthem to make a statement about race relations. But the XFL will likely have rules that require players to stand for the anthem, according to McMahon.
“It’ll have nothing to do with politics or social issues,” he said. “We’re here to play football.”
In December, WWE said McMahon was looking for new investment opportunities “across the sports and entertainment landscape” and that he sold about $106 million in stock to fund a new entity.
McMahon said Thursday the cost of starting a new league was “still too rich” to create through WWE, and that there will be no ties between the league and the wrestling circuit beyond his ownership.
He said his previous effort launched too quickly, and said this time he’ll solicit ideas from fans, technology experts and medical professionals. Among the changes, he’d like to keep the games at two hours or less, perhaps by eliminating half time or trimming the commercial breaks.
“We have two years to really get it right,” he said.
Sounds like bodyslams won’t be legal, but watching – and playing – might be more fun in the XFL.