WWE chairman Vince McMahon announced Thursday afternoon that he is re-launching the XFL.
The league will launch in 2020 with eight teams of 40-man rosters playing a 10-game schedule. McMahon said the game will be faster—played in about two hours—and more “fan-centric.” It will not feature any crossovers from WWE talent.
McMahon hinted repeatedly that players will be required to stand for the national anthem before games. He also stressed that the league will only employ players without criminal histories, which would rule out Johnny Manziel, for example.
“Even if you have a DUI you will not play in the XFL,” McMahon said. “That will probably eliminate some of them.”
The original XFL, promised a brand of football somehow even more violent than the NFL, lasted just one season in 2001and cost both WWE and NBC millions of dollars. This new venture does not appear as though it will present itself as an extra violent, tough guy brand of football. An intro video played before McMahon’s conference call on Thursday promised a “safer” game.
There had been indications, laid out by Deadspin’s David Bixenspan, that the league could present itself as a conservative alternative to the NFL in response to players kneeling during the national anthem. McMahon is a longtime ally of Donald Trump and Trump appointed his wife, Linda, as head of the Small Business Administration. McMahon declined to say Thursday whether Trump would be involved in or approve of the league.
Rumblings that McMahon might be reviving some sort of XFL-like product began in mid-December. (The man who broke the news, a North Carolina freelance journalist named Brad Shepard, even said McMahon would announce the new venture on Jan. 25.)
Alpha Entertainment filed several trademarks tied to the new league back in September, including UFL and UrFL, though McMahon said Thursday that he felt it was best to retain the XFL branding.