Real football, real fans
By Vince McMahon
Appeared in the New York Daily News,
Sunday, February 13, 2000
When I think about football, I
think about the old American Football League. They presented a
real alternative to the NFL. Their uniforms were flashier. Their
brand of play was more wide-open, brash and free-spirited. They
took the game and made it more exciting.
I miss that real, rugged type of football. These days, the NFL
is so overregulated it's pasteurized. You can't show your exuberance.
Certain gestures are taboo, your shirttail has to be tucked in,
your chinstrap has to be fastened and they tell you what kind
of shoes to wear. The league is turning gladiators into choirboys!
There is no regard for individuality. In fact, they go out of
their way to sanitize their players. Sack dances? End zone dances?
Hell, no. And to me, that's not the game. Football has always
been about distinctive personalities. I remember Don Joyce, who
played for the Baltimore Colts and used to wrestle for my father's
promotion during the offseason. "The Big Cat" Ernie
Ladd and Wahoo McDaniel, who also wrestled. These guys were tremendous
athletes who were able to express themselves and entertain our
audience. That's what I'd like to bring back to football.
In addition to being a smart business decision and a logical
extension of the World Wrestling Federation brand, one of my key
motivations for starting the XFL is to bring a new brand of football,
where the future tackles the past. It's a league devoted to returning
football to the way it used to be, when watching it was fun. This
is going to be old-time, smash-mouth football, combined with the
very best in marketing techniques and innovative television coverage.
XFL broadcasts are going to take our viewers inside the game.
I want our fans to hear what the quarterback says to the receiver
when he drops an easy pass or fumbles the ball, or what the coach
says to the team down by three touchdowns at the half. Cameras
will take the fans into the huddle and the locker room and up
and down the sidelines. Coaches and players will be wired, even
if we have to keep someone on the bleeper button. At last, our
fans will experience the passion of the game.
This is not going to be a spring league. When the Super Bowl
ends, just when interest in football is at its pinnacle, the XFL
season will kick off, culminating in April with a championship
game. We will adjust clock rules to speed up the action, and insure
that no game lasts over three hours. And we're discussing such
rule changes as no fair catches, and allowing receivers and running
backs to be in motion on the snap.
This is not some ego-driven scheme to build a new league like
we've seen in the past. I don't believe that you have to hire
the most expensive players for recognition. Our eight teams will
field rosters consisting of former college players who didn't
get their chance to make it in the NFL, and possibly some athletes
who were not fortunate enough to attend college at all. We're
going to take these players and create our own stars, using the
same marketing mechanisms responsible for making the WWF's "Raw
Is War" the highest-rated cable TV series in history, and
SmackDown! one of broadcast television's great success stories.
When you consider all of the WWF's fields of expertise, you'll
realize that this is a logical extension for our company.
But it's also a logical extension for me. I'm a truculent individual
by birth. I enjoy physical contact, whether it's in the ring or
on the football field.
There are real men playing this game, who have real emotion for
the sport. But unlike the NFL, we're not going to attempt to extinguish
that fire. The XFL will be the best opportunity on Earth, outside
of the NFL, to make a living playing football.
And like the entertainers in the WWF, the better they are, the
more their merchandise will sell and the more they will earn.
And that's why — just like the WWF is the best-built brand in
entertainment — the XFL will be the best-built brand in sports.
Vince McMahon, chairman of WWF Entertainment, Inc., is the founder
of the XFL. The league is slated to kick off in February 2001.