In 2001 the XFL characterized the NFL as the “no fun league.” With declining ratings, player safety concerns and complaints of too many rules, could timing be right for an XFL reboot?
“Do you ever have any thoughts about trying again?” Dick Ebersol asked Vince McMahon near the end of ESPN’s 30 for 30 on the XFL.
“Yes I do,” McMahon replied. “I don’t know what it would be. I don’t know if it’s gonna be another XFL or what it may be or how different I would make it. It seems like in some way it would tie in either with the NFL itself or the owners.”
Friday night, journalist Brad Shepard tweeted, “EXCLUSIVE: Vince McMahon is looking to bring back the XFL and may announce it on January 25th, 2018.” The only further information provided by Shepard was that WWE employees have been told internally to “get ready” because it is coming.
In a follow up to Shepard’s news, David Bixenspan of Deadspin requested the WWE to confirm or deny the XFL reboot rumor, to which they told him, “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. Mr. McMahon has nothing further to announce at this time.”
Is it possible the XFL could make a return? After just one season, the XFL was a failed product in 2001. Some innovative ideas such as in game interviews, the sky-cam, putting mics on coaches and players, have all become staples of an NFL broadcast. But with CTE concerns and the health risks faced by NFL players, is there really a place for a more violent version of the sport?
NBC partnered with the XFL the first time around after they lost their NFL broadcasting rights. With NBC, FOX, CBS, and Disney all currently partnered with the NFL, it’s difficult to imagine a major network getting involved with the XFL again. With many digital companies willing to spend money on sports such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, even Barstool, an XFL restart shouldn’t have trouble finding a home.
After their 2001 season fell well short of their expectations, Vince McMahon has had plenty of time to figure what needed to be done differently. While nothing has been confirmed, it’s a story worth watching as to whether or not McMahon could soon proclaim again, “Ladies and gentlemen…This…Is…The XFL!”