At the end of ESPN’s recent “30 for 30” documentary on the XFL, WWE owner Vince McMahon and former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol — the men who spearheaded the failed early-aughts competitor to the NFL — mused about possibly giving it another go.
“Do you ever have any thoughts about trying again?” Ebersol asks McMahon, per Pro Football Talk’s transcription.
“Yes, I do,” McMahon replies. “I don’t know what it would be. I don’t know if it’s going to 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.”
And then Friday, a journalist and pro wrestling fan named Brad Shepard tweeted this:
Shepard didn’t provide much in the way of follow-up to that tweet, but Deadspin’s David Bixenspan asked a WWE spokesperson about it. The wrestling company neither confirmed nor denied that McMahon was starting a new football league, but it sure seems as if he’s thinking about it, at the very least.
There’s also this:
As PFT’s Mike Florio posits, the time could be right for an alternate football league that gives fans dissatisfied with the NFL exactly what they want: unchecked violence, players standing for the national anthem, etc. And, as the “30 for 30” documentary noted, the problem with the XFL wasn’t its business model — indeed, innovations such as the sky-cam and in-game interviews were co-opted by the NFL — but rather that the football was terrible because the league rushed to meet its debut date.
“The biggest mistake they made with the XFL was that they only gave the players 30 days to train together as a team. You had guys who were working at Bed Bath & Beyond, and 30 days later they’re in the XFL,” Charlie Ebersol, Dick Ebersol’s son and the director of the “30 for 30” documentary, told Fast Company earlier this year. “They spent six to eight months marketing the league, and 30 days training the players. If they’d done four and four … they sold this thing like it was the iPhone, and they rolled it out like it was whatever piece of crap Motorola put out.”
A more carefully planned rollout would probably go a long way.