Maybe you remember the XFL, Vince McMahon's failed attempt to launch a competitor to the NFL. Maybe you remember the black-and-red branding. Maybe you remember "the scramble," a pre-game coin competition where officials put the ball on the ground and let a player from each team scramble for it to determine who received the kickoff option. 

And while you probably don't remember Rod Smart, you likely do remember his nickname: "He Hate Me."

Or maybe you haven't thought about the XFL for years.

But Vince McMahon has.

In an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about the XFL, McMahon says, when asked about whether he would like to try again, "Yes, I do. I don't know what it would be. I don't know if it's going to be another XFL or what it may be or how different I would make it. ... I don't know what else we would do that the NFL isn't doing now. But I'm sure we would find a way."

Apparently he has found a way. McMahon officially unveiled plans to fund a re-launched XFL football league that will kick off in early 2020.

And he's definitely changing his approach. McMahon's vision for the relaunched XFL is much more family-friendly. There won't be cheerleaders. They won't hire players who have arrest records. The logo is red, white and blue.

And all players will be required to stand for the national anthem.

The more family friendly XFL even comes through in the league's new red-white-and-blue

"We want to entertain -- that's what we do," McMahon said. "There are not going to be any politics involved with this thing. We're not going to have any social issues involved. People want to be entertained. ... It's the entertainment value that sometimes is lost." 

Funding for the XFL will come from Alpha Entertainment, a private equity company McMahon established o fund sports and entertainment opportunities. Reportedly the league will start with a $100 million capital infusion. But, "It will probably go beyond that," he said. "I'm extremely fortunate to know that I have the ability to be able to do this. I won't say whatever it takes, because I'm a business man. But there will be plenty of capital to be able to capitalize and do what we want to do by re-imagining football."

Because he isn't looking for investors, McMahon will own all eight of the planned teams.  No details yet about where teams will be located. In fact, McMahon has said he would hold "listening tours" where he will ask fans and media for ideas on how to stage games.

"It's an opportunity to really re-imagine football -- not reinvent it," McMahon said. "I have an expression that I use a lot. It's called, 'First day on the job.' If you started from square one, what would you do positively, what would you do negatively, in terms of re-imagining the game to make it more exciting, to make it more fan friendly."

One of his goals is for games to be faster, hopefully fitting into a two-hour window with fewer commercial breaks.

"Sitting in front of a television for three-and-a-half hours for a game is a lot of time to devote," he said. "A lot of people do it. We want a faster game. We want a more exciting game. We want rules that are simplified. In the end, we want it to be more fan-friendly with more engagement."

That's an admirable goal. (I can definitely get behind the idea of a two-hour game.)

And even though the first installment of the XFL failed, I wouldn't bet against McMahon this time: A better funded league with a longer runway could make all the difference.

Published on: Jan 25, 2018
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