“What would you do if you could reimagine the game of football?”
That was the question Vince McMahon posed to fans, players, and coaches alike, as he held a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce the return of the Xtreme Football League (XFL) in 2020. The league will feature eight teams with 40-man rosters. It will consist of a 10-game season to begin in late January/early February and span part of the seven months in which the NFL and NCCAF don’t play.
While mostly vague about the details such as rules, locations and how the game will be broadcasted, McMahon emphasized that his goal was to “give the game of football back to the fans.” He added that over the next two years, he and his team will be listening to the voices of those who know and love football in order to present the best game possible.
— XFL (@xfl2020) January 25, 2018
According to McMahon, “The new XFL will be fan-centric with all the thing you’d like to see, and less of the things you don’t, and no doubt a lot of innovations along the way.”
That being said, here are some of the biggest takeaways from McMahon’s press conference regarding what fans might expect to see from the new XFL.
“No Crossover Whatsoever” with WWE
The original XFL was part football, part wrestling with elements such as promos, kayfabe, and heat being incorporated into the broadcasts. WWE personalities, Jim Ross, Jesse Ventura and Jerry Lawler, worked as the on-air commentary team as well.
This time around, however, McMahon was adamant that the XFL will stand on its own, without any crossover whatsoever with WWE. While this shouldn’t come as a complete surprise given McMahon funded Alpha Entertainment as a separate entity, it was definitely a big announcement to make regarding how the game will and won’t be played.
Vince Won’t Be Out in Front
Considering that most fans know of Vince McMahon’s proclivity to micro-manage as far as WWE goes, it was interesting to hear him say that on this venture, he’d be taking a back seat and bringing in experts to run the XFL. McMahon did make sure to let the reports know that none of what is going on with the XFL will affect his standing as CEO and Chairman of WWE, as well as his day-to-day role with the company.
The Goal is a Two Hour Game
At the beginning of the press conference, McMahon noted that he wanted a faster and shorter presentation of the game of football, suggesting that the XFL could be without halftime and could have fewer commercial breaks.
He elaborated on this answering a reporter’s question saying that a three to three-and-half hour game could be laborious and that his goal was to shorten the game to two hours.
You Can’t Play in the XFL with a DUI
When asked about the possibility of someone like Johnny Manziel or Colin Kaepernick playing in the XFL, McMahon seemingly dismissed the idea, building on a comment he made at the beginning of the press conference, that the “quality of the human being is as important as the quality of the player.”
McMahon elaborated to say that the league wants people with no criminality associated with them, saying that anyone with a DUI for example, would not be able to play in the XFL.
Players will Most Likely Have to Stand for the National Anthem
While the rules of the game are still yet to be determined when asked about the National Anthem, McMahon seemed to suggest that rules regarding it, will be on the books.
McMahon repeated that standing for the anthem is a “time-honored tradition” and that it would be appropriate for that to be a rule in the XFL. Somewhat related to the anthem, McMahon was asked if President Donald Trump would support this league. McMahon couldn’t speak to that but he was clear that his league wouldn’t be about politics or social issues, just football.
“Not Sure” About Nicknames on the Back of Jerseys
One of the most iconic and memorable parts of the XFL is the tagline, “He Hate Me,” which was the nickname former XFL’er and NFL player Rod Smart, wore on the back of his jersey. While McMahon did say it was pretty cool that fans still remember “He Hate Me,” he’s not sure if this will be something the XFL uses in its rebirth.
He did not completely rule out the idea, however, he did say, in regards to a question about cities using the same team names as they did in the past, that “generally speaking, everything will be all new.” It was unclear if this would apply to nicknames or even old rules of the XFL. It should be worth noting that in December, McMahon filed trademarks for several XFL-related entities, one of which was “He Hate Me.”
“You Want to Play Football where Football is Played”
One of the most popular questions asked at the press conference regarded where McMahon and co. might be looking in terms of cities to host the teams. While initially, McMahon held the line that no city is out of the running, his tune seemed to change toward the end, when he said that his intent was to play in stadiums and cities where football, namely the NFL is already played.
This would be in contrast to how the original XFL operated, largely played in cities that did not have NFL teams.