Vince McMahon originally announced that he was resurrecting the Extreme Football League, or the XFL, in January of 2018. That was a couple of months before Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian arrived with the proposal for the Alliance of American Football, who got their league started first—but saw it crash before their first season could be completed thanks to an impatient and opportunistic investor who chose to pull out when it wasn’t immediately obvious he would get his way as quickly as he desired.
So it’s almost assured that when the XFL launches in 2020, it will be the only big kid in the little playground that is adjacent to the Disney World that is the NFL. And it’s also assured that they will not have the financial issues that the AAF had, thanks to McMahon himself, who already folded the league once.
The XFL originally kicked off in 2001, but its shelf life lasted just one season before he had to pull his assets and cut his losses. Perhaps his vision, at the time, was overly ambitious, but he is committing to learning from his previous mistakes and preserving this league through the early lean years.
McMahon has previously said that he is fully prepared to commit $500 million of his own assets to ensure that the XFL will have every opportunity to succeed through its first few seasons. He has reportedly sold $361 million worth of assets in his WWE stock that is going directly to fund Alpha Entertainment, which is his backing company for the league.
When the news of the AAF’s shuttering came, McMahon released a statement distancing his league from any other and maintaining that their fates would not be tied together.
“We have said all along the success or failure of other leagues will have no impact on our ability to deliver high-quality, fast-paced, professional football”, the statement read. “The XFL is well-funded, we have time before kick-off to execute our business plan, and we will soon announce a national broadcast and cable TV schedule that makes it easy for fans to find our games consistently every weekend when we launch next February. There is no doubt that avid football fans want more and we’re excited to get going in 2020”.
Of course, all the ambition and planning in the world isn’t necessarily going to make the league prosper, and it’s already failed once. Truth be told, however, this does appear to be the most serious effort put forth yet for a ‘minor’ league that actually has the financial security provided for by its founder.
The XFL will unveil its new product 10 months from now in what has been promised as a gimmick-free version of their original incarnation. In the meantime, they intend to strip the AAF for parts—including both players and equipment.