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Vince McMahon to revive XFL in 2020

(RNN) - Professional wrestling tycoon Vince McMahon is trying his hand at professional football again.

Alpha Entertainment, a company founded by McMahon in 2017, announced in a press conference Thursday afternoon it's the return of the Xtreme Football League in 2020.

“We’re going to give the game of football back to fans,” McMahon said as he stressed his desire to see the new XFL put fans above all.

So, how will this XFL be different?

"The new XFL will be fan-centric with all the things you like to see and less of the things you don’t,” McMahon explained.

He speculated halftime could be something the league tries to do away with. He showed a desire to see the game shortened and said the goal is to have a two-hour game.

McMahon wrapped up Thursday's press conference by promising to listen to the fans.

The McMahon family has ties to President Donald Trump. Linda McMahon serves as Trump's Administrator of the Small Business Administration and the president is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and has appeared on WWE programming many times over the years.

President Trump expressed displeasure with the NFL in 2017 as players continued to protest social injustices by kneeling during the national anthem.

While Vince McMahon stopped short of saying standing during the anthem would be mandated, he said he believes standing is the right thing to do and that XFL players won't get involved in politics or social justice.

“As far as our league is concerned, we will have nothing to do with politics and nothing to do with social issues. We’re there to play football,” McMahon explained. “The national anthem is a time-honored tradition. Whatever our rules are is what everyone will abide by.”

The original XFL earned higher ratings than expected upon its launch in 2001 but those quickly declined before the end of the season.

The league folded three weeks after the Million Dollar Game, its championship game, in May 2001 after losing close to $50 million. 

McMahon believes the quality of play is what turned people off from the league. The original XFL rushed its product on the field and didn't leave time for full training camps for players.

“I think the most important thing we learned with the older XFL is the quality of the play,” he said.

The new league will have two years to get it right this time around.

McMahon said they are nowhere near ready to choose which cities will have teams but he said fans can expect eight teams with 40-man rosters to play a 10-game schedule beginning in late January or early February.

Four teams will make the playoffs.

In its original run, the XFL marketed itself as football the way it was meant to be played. League innovations, such as on-field interviews and players wearing microphones, are now commonplace in the NFL.

But it also saw innovations that did not stand the test of time such as the elimination of the fair catch and the opening scramble in lieu of a coin toss.

Unlike its original run, WWE talent will not crossover into the XFL.

McMahon wanted to make it clear the WWE and Alpha Entertainment are two separate entities. In December 2017, he sold $100 million worth of WWE shares to fund the revival efforts.

WWE released a statement to Deadspin's David Bixenspan in 2017 that distanced itself from the revival. The statement reads:

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.

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