Many thought, after a year of plummeting ratings and political controversy, that someone might throw their hat in the ring, and challenge the NFL’s monopoly over professional football in America.
Well, that moment has arrived.
According to CBS, “WWE founder and chairman Vince McMahon is set to announce that he will make another attempt at starting a professional football league,” sources told ESPN.
“Alpha Entertainment, a company that McMahon formed, issued a media advisory Thursday saying that McMahon would have a “major sports announcement” on Thursday afternoon.”
Rumors of an XFL return have burned through sports media at least since December. Those rumors rose to a fever pitch after McMahon sold $100 million in WWE stock purportedly to have enough cash on hand to put toward the return of his football empire.
Also in December, McMahon established a new company called Alpha Entertainment, a venture separate from his stake in the WWE. With his Dec. filing, McMahon sought five new trademarks related to the XFL, his football league originally founded back in 1999 which played its first games in 2001.
“The filings seek to trademark the XFL as a professional football league and also cover merchandise related to the league. Previous XFL trademarks were abandoned over a period of time from 2002 to ’05,” ESPN’s Darren Rovell said.
The WWE confirmed the sale of his stock and the creation of the new company in a Dec. 19 statement: “Vince McMahon has established and is personally funding a separate entity from WWE, Alpha Entertainment, to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football. Mr. McMahon has nothing further to announce at this time.”
As the National Football League continues to be plagued by controversies over anti-American protests and a steady loss of TV viewers as well as fans in the stands, it might seem a natural opportunity for a resurgent XFL.
Still, it will likely be an uphill battle for the new football league.