But there will be no ‘Las Vegas Fightin’ Manziels’ in this XFL. At least not according to the league’s new guidelines, which were laid out by McMahon in a press conference held last Thursday via Facebook Live — one of which being that no player with any sort of arrest record (cough, Johnny Football, cough) will be eligible to compete in the XFL.
This radical, nonsensical new rule for this revived version of the XFL is one in a long line of added features for the 2020 league, a few of which include: guidelines that will make the game “safer," no cheerleaders whatsoever and a crackdown on any player activism (i.e. kneeling during the National Anthem) — all of which seem to directly oppose everything that the old XFL stood for.
The old XFL was a response to the WWE’s “Attitude Era” in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period of pro wrestling that was characterized by sex, violence and inflated egos. XFL 2020 is a response to this most recent NFL season — and what WWE Hall of Famer and current U.S. President Donald Trump has to say about it.
According to McMahon, whose wife happens to be President Trump’s head of Small Business Administration on his cabinet, this league will have nothing to do with politics or social issues.
"I have no idea whether President Trump will support this," McMahon said in a recent press conference. "It'll have nothing to do with politics, and nothing to do with social issues. We want football. We want really good football."
But let's be clear: This league has everything to do with politics. And social issues.
President Trump actively complains about players kneeling during the National Anthem. McMahon bars any players from self-expression on the field.
President Trump says that these players are taking power away from the owners of NFL teams, saying that owners should fire any player that protests. McMahon designs an independent league with strict player guidelines, allowing for the XFL to make changes to teams as they please.
McMahon promises fewer, simpler rules in order to make the game more about the action and less about the officiating. Guess who complained about this very problem regarding the NFL just four months prior to McMahon’s announcement of a new XFL league?
The new XFL could have been a developmental league, something that every major sports league besides the NFL has today. It could have been a revamping of an original concept that failed due to lack of planning — combining the theatrics of wrestling with the concept of football.
But instead, McMahon has decided to market his pet project as a vanilla version of the NFL, now with its emphasis on the game itself. One that will give President Trump — and those who share his beliefs — a league that doesn't highlight the current, divided state of the country.
A league with a sole focus on the game doesn’t seem like that poor of an idea, except that ‘the game’ is going to be less exciting than any NFL matchup, with lesser talent and nonexistent rivalries. Instead of giving a large range of young players a proving ground, McMahon is beefing up the requirements to even play in the league and limiting any sort of monetary incentive. (The league’s sole funding so far is $100 million from McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment, leaving just $12.5 million for each team in an eight-team league.)
This league could have been something fun, or at least something useful. Instead, it’s an inferior alternative meant to distract from the important protests regarding racial injustice and gun violence being made by current NFL players. In a recent announcement, the XFL stated that it wanted to put the fans first and hear what they have to say. So, as a moderate fan of the former XFL, please hear this:
Make a feeder league. Make another XFL. Don’t make this.
@DTHSports | email@example.com