That’s the XFL’s music: Vince McMahon frees up $100 million for football

Last week, a journalist’s tweet and an intriguing statement from the WWE stoked widespread speculation that Vince McMahon was thinking about bringing back the XFL. But what really talks is money, and on Thursday, McMahon appeared put an eye-opening amount of it toward a return of his ill-fated football league.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, McMahon sold 3.34 million shares of WWE, worth approximately $100 million. That money, per a WWE filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, is meant “primarily to fund a separate entity from the Company, Alpha Entertainment LLC, which Mr. McMahon established to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football.”

The WWE employed similar language last week in its statement, adding that McMahon, the CEO of the pro wrestling company, had “nothing further to announce.” The influx of millions of dollars into Alpha, though, along with reports that it has filed for several trademarks associated with the XFL, could be strong indications that McMahon is intent on reviving the league.

The XFL lasted just one season, in 2001. Co-owned by the WWE (then called the WWF) and NBC, its games aired on the network and on independent channels and were played in the spring, in an attempt to satisfy football fans’ yearnings during the NFL’s offseason.

The new league was meant to one-up the staid NFL by adding some of the violence, raunch and personal rivalries (staged or not) of pro wrestling, and it offered innovations, including extensive use of sky-cam during telecasts, that have lasted well past its demise. That failure was hastened by plummeting ratings, which some blamed on poor quality of play stemming from inadequate preparation.

Presumably, if he is serious about bringing it back, McMahon has had some time to study why the original XFL failed and come up with remedies. He may also be emboldened by some fans’ disenchantment of late with the NFL, which has attempted to dial back violent plays in an effort to limit brain injuries, and is struggling to address the issue of player protests during the national anthem.

McMahon certainly sounded interested in giving it a go when he sat with former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol, another key figure in the XFL’s creation, for a conversation about the league captured in an ESPN “30 for 30” documentary that aired earlier this year.

“Do you ever have any thoughts about trying again?” Ebersol asked. “Yes, I do,” McMahon replied.

“I don’t know what it would be,” McMahon continued. “I don’t know if it’s going to be another XFL, or what it may be, or how different I would make it.”

One difference in the possible new XFL is that it wouldn’t have “He Hate Me,” a.k.a. Rod Smart, whose customized jersey, another innovation of the league, caused many to take notice, albeit not always in an admiring way. However, according to Rovell, the WWE recently filed for the “He Hate Me” trademark, which was abandoned by Smart in 2011, hinting at a plan for another player to once again bear that message on the field.

Of course, as more than a few noted online, one seemingly obvious personnel move for the XFL would be to sign someone who also would like another chance at making a go of it in pro football: Johnny Manziel.

– The Washington Post


23 Comments on That’s the XFL’s music: Vince McMahon frees up $100 million for football

  1. Wasn’t he the ‘Blow Gut’ yank that was going to put the CFL out of business?

  2. Good luck Vince. It’s your money.

    Won’t change a thing for the CFL. Never has before.

    • The article never mentioned the CFL.
      But no it wouldn’t affect the CFL if it ever started again. Now the lack of CFL interest in Toronto affects the CFL and has done more damage than any other league.
      It’s funny how everyone used to say that an NFL team coming to Toronto would kill the CFL there, but interest in the CFL has gone downhill without the NFL there.

  3. IF the XFL resurfaces it will provide employment for a lot of people in the football business from the front office all the way down to the coaches, players and support staff. Will hurt the CFL a little because some guys like coaches, players etc. will stay south rather than go north to get into pro football. Based on the number of players coming out of the NCAA each year there should be plenty to go around for ALL the pro leagues out there.

    • Except that if the XFL pays more then the CFL will get the “leftovers” but of course we will still get that crop of CIS “O” linemen and backups………………..

      • XFL didn’t pay more than the CFL in its first incarnation and there is little reason to expect it to this time. There is a massive volume of unemployed American football players who are willing to play for far less than the CFL pays (look at Arena football). Whatever league he’s starting just has to pay above to low water mark of Arena football to get a vast pool of talented players interested in the game.

        CFL pays much better because of the ratio. That higher wage attracts a talent level that is marginally no different than the NFL. The neo-XFL doesn’t need to compete with that to attract players and won’t (Vince McMahon is not dumb … will not throw money around he doesn’t need to).

      • Ridersnhabs // December 25, 2017 at 9:29 am //

        We get it , you don’t like Canadian linemen . You comment on every story like a broken record . Get a life

  4. Chris Robertson // December 24, 2017 at 12:00 am //

    Are they bringing back the Dickerod?

  5. Ha, good one!

  6. All about his ego. The XFL failed the first time & he wants to donut again thinking it won’t fail a second time. But it will. It’s McMahon’s money.l He can blow it all any way he likes.

    • yep, let him throw his money away. Maybe the time is right for a spring/summer league.
      It would hurt any chances of the CFL getting games on ESPN2 again.

  7. To call what he put ut there before, “football” was an embarrassment to the name ‘football’. This who are chasing the dollar may be attracted but the who love the game of football and pride themselves in being “football players” will stay here.

    • If you want to get technical then why are we using the term “football” that should be reserved for the “round ball” only ONE player on our field uses his foot – the kicker/punter !!
      Call it gridiron.

      • Because this discussion/whole board is about the CFL, not soccer, but thanks for chiming in. It’s what makes the board interesting.

  8. $100M must be chump change for Vince. It won’t work. He should just buy the arena league

  9. I still don’t understand how this would work long term, without cities really wanting a team stadiums in place etc.

    • Teams in St. Louis, Oakland, Orlando, Portland, San Diego, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, etc … plenty of US cities without NFL football with 25,000 seat or better stadiums.

  10. Edward Leslie // December 24, 2017 at 10:11 pm //

    You make some good points, Quint.
    People don’t understand just how deep the pool of football talent in the U.S. is. Every year, thousands of players graduate from NCAA Division 1 FCS, FBS, Division 2, Division 3 and N.A.I.A. programs. Only a very small percentage make the NFL. So the CFL has a massive pool of players to find talent from.

    The XFL didn’t work the first time, in spite of not competing head on with the NFL and keepbsalaries low. Unless the general public has really disconnected with the NFL in a very big way because of all these in game anthem protests, I don’t see how it will succeed 17 years after the first XFL flopped.

  11. Stuart Tarry // December 25, 2017 at 1:01 pm //

    CIFL folded in 2014, IFL looked on the rocks til new blood came in and existing franchises looked to return and the arena league has lost 1/3 of its teams over the past six weeks

    I question whether a summer upstart has the ability to make it work, especially with a higher cost base than all of the above

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