9 Ways to Ensure the Return of the XFL Is a Success

Bad, slow, violent football is not the answer

December 22, 2017 9:00 am

Updated 25 January 2018

Where there’s smoke, there’s the revival of a “professional” football league.

After rumors Vince McMahon would be reviving the XFL began swirling last month, the WWE founder today confirmed that a fresh version of the league will return in January 2020.

The league will comprise eight 40-player teams based in yet-to-be-selected cities, and the season will last for 10 games, with the four top teams advancing to the playoffs. Since McMahon is funding the league himself, he will determine who can play in the XFL. As of now, it sounds as if no one with a criminal record will be eligible, nor will anyone who kneels for the national anthem.

“People don’t want social and political issues coming into play when they are trying to be entertained,” McMahon told ESPN. “We want someone who wants to take a knee to do their version of that on their personal time. I can say, ‘Here are the rules, and as long as you are playing football in the stadium for us, you follow these rules.’”

There’s hope for Tim Tebow yet.


WWE chairman Vince McMahon just sold $100 million of his shares to (perhaps) reboot the XFL, the National Football League alternative that fizzled in 2001. Recently, McMahon and his self-funded Alpha Entertainment venture also applied for various XFL-related trademarks.

Meanwhile, NFL ratings are down (from record highs) and the league is caught in a quagmire of anthem protest, concussion protocol and domestic abuse-ralted headlines.

But nobody’s yet been able to crack Roger Goodell’s monopoly. Since the AFL merged with the National Football League in 1970, we’ve seen the WFL, USFL, NFL Europe and XFL fold, an incursion into the U.S. by the CFL fail, and the Arena League — not even really a direct competitor — become a shell of its former self.

Right now all we have is rumors, a few trademarks and nothing else to go on re: the XFL’s future plans. But there are a few things they could do (and not do) to improve their chances.

Don’t: Become a more violent league. Americans are more sensitive than ever to violence in sports, and after witnessing a big league minus Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr., J.J. Watt, etc. due to injuries, we know that play definitely suffers when stars are injured.

Do: Embrace the things that worked last time. Nicknames on jerseys (the aforementioned “He Hate Me”), the rugby scrum for the ball in lieu of a coin toss (optional — this did cause injuries in the past), no extra points, college football overtime rules, shorter play clocks, etc.

Don’t: Think you’ll be a developmental league. No one watches the NBA D-League.

Do: Recruit big names and villains. Tim Tebow! Colin Kaepernick! Johnny Manziel! Hell, make LaVar Ball a coach while you’re at it.

Don’t: Make this about the National Anthem. If you think standing is a must, boo the players like you’d boo a wrestling villain. Or boo Tebow because he’s a bad quarterback who got too many chances. Let the hot takes roll.

Do: Make it a non-fall Sunday league. Friday night games in the fall? Weekly games in the spring? Keep everything out of the NFL’s way … and keep the stadiums small and packed.

Maybe: Consider an A-11 offense, where all players are eligible for a forward pass. Could light up the scoreboards!

Do: Like Howard Stern suggested when the XFL first started, and go full reality-TV with the product: have teams live together, tape every moment, encourage feuds and locker-room dustups, etc.

Don’t: Appoint Roger Goodell commissioner.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!