Look out sports world: The Chairman is apparently seriously considering giving the XFL, or something like it, another shot.
Vince McMahon isn’t a man accustomed to defeat. The WWE has been the unquestioned number one pro wrestling promotion in the U.S. since the turn of the century, and for many years before that. he’s had his stumbles, but maybe none quite as public as the XFL.
If you’re a wrestling or football fan and older than maybe 25, you remember the XFL. It was McMahon’s fledgling pro football league, full of colorful team names, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler on the call of a game or two and slightly more relaxed rules. It was supposed to be a showy, more testosterone-fueled version of what we Americans loved about the NFL, and it had legitimacy in the form of co-ownership by the NBC.
Nevertheless, the XFL fizzled out after just one season in 2001. McMahon conceded defeat, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten about it or gotten over it.
It started innocently enough, as these things do, with a tweet.
Pretty funny thing to do on a Friday night, and a relatively slow one for sports news at that. Except that this, apparently, is no joke.
We know this because Deadspin actually asked the WWE about it and got this response:
Obviously, the “including professional football” is the key takeaway, and a phrase that’s totally unnecessary if Vince McMahon isn’t thinking about an XFL revival.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk connects even more interesting dots. He points to comments made by McMahon and Dick Ebersole earlier this year about an XFL return or something like it, as well as the idea that it would not be direct competition to the NFL per se, but connected to it or its owners in some way. And Ebersole mentioned the name of one owner in particular, one with a reputation as a maverick and a grudge to bear (or several overlapping grudges, really) for the NFL as it currently stands.
Jerry Jones, of course.
Maybe what McMahon needs this time is not a broadcast network (though certainly a broadcast partner of some type is essential, and the WWE Network hasn’t been a smashing enough success to think that Vince would consider going it alone, streaming only) but a deep-pocketed and disgruntled football guy. Jones is certainly both of those things.
It’s an interesting twist to an already interesting rumor. If Brad Shepard, who kicked everything off with his original report, has his timetable right, we may only have to wait about five weeks to see if there’s any truth to it.