SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Vince McMahon announced that the XFL is returning, and his pitch is that they’ll be listening to the fas. “What would you do if you could reimagine the game of professional football?” He suggested eliminating halftime, fewer commercial breaks, simplify rules, or move the game faster. He said he expects a lot of innovations and said it’ll be family-friendly and fast-paced. “Don’t get me wrong, it’ll still be professional football but professional football reimagined.”
There will be eight teams, a ten-game season, two semi-finals, and a championship game.
The delivery of the games will be multi-platform in ways that weren’t imaginable just a few years ago.
“The new XFL will be a game that is reimagined,” he said.
During the media questions, he said this won’t affect his role in WWE at all. He said no broadcast partners are secured, but there has been interest expressed. He said there will be no crossover with talent between WWE and the XFL.
He said he will not be the face of the league, and this might be the last you see of him in public as they’ll be hiring great expert executives.
He said the league will start right after the Super Bowl, but doesn’t want it to be referred to as “a spring league.”
He said he had this idea before the kneeling controversy in the NFL.
He said the ownership structure will be the XFL owning all teams, not a franchise model. He said they are a long ways away from cities being announced. He said they will go where fans want them to go, but not necessarily filling in gaps where the NFL doesn’t go or has left (i.e. San Diego, St. Louis). He said they will target NFL cities with NFL stadiums, but they might play in a baseball stadium where an NFL facility is not available. He said every city is on their radar when he was asked about Pittsburgh and San Diego by different reporters.
When asked if there’s a link between WWE Network research and XFL research, he said there is no connection and he would not comment on WWE when talking about the XFL.
As for CTE and concerns about keeping players safe, he said in reimagining football, they’ll make it as safe as possible while “still being football.” When asked about specifics, he said they’d bring in experts in all areas of medicine to make it as safe as possible. When asked how he can make the game both faster and safer. Vince said there might not be halftime, for instance. He said sitting and watching a three hour game can bore you sometimes, sometimes not, depending on the quality of the game. “We’re going to try to get two hours, that’s our goal,” he said. “That’s an experience most people can enjoy and it doesn’t take up too much of their time.” (Ironic, given Raw was expanded to three-plus hours years ago.)
He was asked if President Trump will support it, he said he doesn’t know. He said this league will have nothing to do with politics or social issues. “When they tune in, I don’t think they want to deal with political issues of things of that nature.” When pressed on how he can stop players from expressing social views, he said there will be rules they are aware of and will follow. He said there are plenty of ways players and coaches can express their social views outside of the game such as Twitter or Facebook. “When we come onto the field, we’re here to play football,” he said. He said the National Anthem is a tradition before many sporting events and it shouldn’t be a time to express social views.
In terms of not fearing over saturation of football, he said this will be a better version of football so people will watch.
McMahon was asked if the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary made him more interested in restarting the XFL. He said he was interested in reviving the XFL before that for a long time.
He said he thinks the XFL is a cool name and that’s why they went with it again.
He said simplifying the rules will make it more likely to be friendly to international markets.
He said they haven’t decided whether nicknames will be allowed on the back of jerseys, but it’s remarkable how long it’s been and people still talk about “He Hate Me” Rod Smart. He said they’ll listen to fans.
Asked if players will be “forced” to stand during the National Anthem, he repeated their intent to require players to do so and to keep politics out of it, and they’ll be agreeing to that being signing on with the league.
He said he doesn’t expect team logos and team names to bring brought back from the first XFL.
He said he doesn’t want players with criminal backgrounds. He said if someone has a DUI, they’d be prohibited from participating. He said some name-brand players like Tim Tebow, as mentioned by the reporter, would be welcome.
Asked if Colin Kappernick would be welcome, yes if he meets their criteria, so why not, “as long as they abide by the rules laid down.” He reiterated when asked that everyone will know the rules before they sign on to play, but didn’t say standing for the National Anthem would for sure be a rule.
When asked again, he said there will be no crossover with WWE announcers and personalities whatsoever.
When asked what drives him to compete in this pro football realm, he said he’s going to hire professionals who know what they’re doing and he won’t be out front. He’ll let the experts run it.
When asked if he consulted Linda McMahon’s opinion on this venture, he paused, took a deep breath, and deliberately said, “No.”
He said this venture is aimed at giving fans what they want. He said they’ll be asking more questions and listening to fans. That concluded the media Q&A portion.