Today Vince McMahon held his first official press conference to announce the return of the XFL, although this time around it seems that the XFL will be very different from the original league launched in 1999.
McMahon set the tone for the league in an interview with ESPN.
“One thing we are not is a development league for the NFL,” McMahon said.
McMahon also made it clear that he won’t make the same mistakes that were made the first time, investing his own money into it and establishing some very strict rules right off the bat.
The game will have a shorter run time and, interestingly enough, kneeling in protest against social injustice will not be allowed.
“People don’t want social and political issues coming into play when they are trying to be entertained,” said McMahon. “We want someone who wants to take a knee to do their version of that on their personal time.”
With close ties to the Trump, who attacked NFL players during the season, and Vince’s wife, Linda, heading up the Small Business Administration in Trump’s administration, it should come as no surprise that this rule would be adopted. McMahon also went on to address the type of player they’ll be looking for, stating that those with criminal records won’t be welcome. “We are evaluating a player based on many things, including the quality of human being they are,” said the head of the XFL. “If you have any sort of criminal record or commit a crime you aren’t playing in this league.”
When asked about this rule and extending invites to players like Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick, McMahon’s response was “interesting” to say the least (watch the clip below at the 49:50 mark).
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“When I said the quality of the human being is very important, just as important as the quality of the player, what I mean by that is that you want someone who doesn’t have any criminality whatsoever associated with them. And in the XFL, even if you have a DUI, you will not play in the XFL. So that would probably eliminate some of them, not all of them; if Tim Tebow wants to play, he can very well play.”
So Manziel is out due to his DUI incident, Tebow will be invited but no response to Kap we see. Interesting. It could be an oversight or it could be an intentional avoidance of the question and player, but either way it has to raise some eyebrows, especially due to his closeness to Trump. When asked about Kaepernick specifically by the reporter who followed, Vince responded with the following answer:
“Anyone who plays the game of football well and meets our criteria in terms of quality of human being, why not? As long as everyone abides by the rules as laid down.”
So perhaps Kap would be allowed, if he stands, something he said he would do going forward. But then again, it is Vince’s league and he is funding it, so he can pretty much do what he wants, including signing who he wants. He made that clear to everyone listening.
“I can say, ‘Here are the rules, and as long as you are playing football in the stadium for us, you follow these rules.'”
Will potential players be turned off by these restrictions? Will the talent pool be limited by his rules? Will Kap be allowed to play if he wants to? We have to wait two years for this answer, pondering during this long time period. But one thing is for sure; people will tune in for the first game, just like they did back in 1999.