ORLANDO, Fla. — The XFL pro football league is returning in 2020 and will be focused on re-imaging the game of football.
The new XFL will “give the game of football back to the fans,” founder Vince McMahon said during a media conference call Thursday afternoon. Plans call for the inaugural season in two years to have eight teams playing a 10-game regular season that would start in late January or early February.
Although McMahon said it was too early to determine what cities will get teams — he said the league will go where fans want it to go — Orlando is already expressing interest in rejoining the league which included the Orlando Rage in its only season.
McMahon says his new XFL will be family friendly, something no one would have said about the first incarnation of the XFL during its only season of play in 2001.
That XFL tried to mix elements of McMahon’s WWE universe — using wrestlers, announcers, skimpy cheerleader uniforms and even some wrestling-like gags. The result was often embarrassing and led to declining ratings that ultimately doomed the league.
McMahon repeatedly said there would be no cross-over this time from WWE. Instead this version of the XFL — XFL 2.0, if you will — wants to be fan-focused and innovative, changing the way America’s most popular sport is played.
“If you have any ideas, send them along the way. We will be listening,” McMahon said.
One idea he repeated during the call was speeding up the length of games. “We want to get to 2 hours, that’s our goal,” McMahon said. He added the new league would likely eliminate halftime — a staple of college and pro games now.
While the NFL has been criticized by fans for players kneeling during the national anthem to highlight social concerns, McMahon said there would be none of that in the XFL.
“We’ll have nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with social issues,” McMahon said.
Kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” would not be tolerated in the XFL.
“It’s a time-honored tradition to stand for the national anthem,” McMahon said.
Also, McMahon said players’ character would count as much or more than their athletic ability. Think less Johnny Manziel and more Tim Tebow — two players’ names mentioned by fans as possible players for the new XFL.
McMahon said players in the new XFL can’t have any criminal records. “Even if you have a DUI, you will not play in the XFL,” he said.
Orlando was one of the eight cities that fielded teams in the original XFL. The Orlando Rage, who finished with the best record in the league at 8-2, were joined by the Chicago Enforcers, the New York/New Jersey Hitmen, the Birmingham Thunder, the Los Angeles Xtreme, the San Francisco Demons, the Memphis Maniax and the Las Vegas Outlaws.