Tags: vince mcmahon | Colin Kaepernick | xfl | national anthem

Vince McMahon: Kaepernick Welcome in New XFL, But Will Have to Stand for Anthem

Vince McMahon: Kaepernick Welcome in New XFL, But Will Have to Stand for Anthem
(AP)

Thursday, 25 January 2018 05:54 PM

Vince McMahon, the flamboyant billionaire chairman and founder of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., confirmed he plans to start a new professional football league, entering the market amid a slump in TV ratings for the NFL.

McMahon, 72, announced his plans on a webcast Thursday. The XFL will kick off in January 2020 and play for 10 weeks, meaning the season will overlap some with the National Football League, which wraps up with the Super Bowl in early February. The eight teams will be owned by McMahon, who declined to say which cities he’s considering.

It’s McMahon’s second attempt after the original XFL, backed by WWE and NBC, folded after one season in 2001.

Professional football is the most popular programming on television in the U.S., with games attracting $2.42 billion in ads during the regular season. It’s also shown weakness in recent years, with viewing and commercial spending declining. McMahon said his league will stay away controversies that have dogged the NFL, like players’ national anthem protests.

On conference call with reporters, McMahon said he’d welcome players like Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who started a national movement by kneeling during the national anthem to make a statement about race relations. But the XFL will likely have rules that require players to stand for the anthem, according to McMahon.

“It’ll have nothing to do with politics or social issues,” he said. “We’re here to play football.”

In December, WWE said McMahon was looking for new investment opportunities “across the sports and entertainment landscape” and that he sold about $106 million in stock to fund a new entity.

McMahon said Thursday the cost of starting a new league was “still too rich” to create through WWE, and that there will be no ties between the league and the wrestling circuit beyond his ownership.

He said his previous effort launched too quickly, and said this time he’ll solicit ideas from fans, technology experts and medical professionals. Among the changes, he’d like to keep the games at two hours or less, perhaps by eliminating half time or trimming the commercial breaks.

“We have two years to really get it right,” he said.

McMahon inherited a regional wrestling promotion company and built it into the largest in the world, through a combination of television, live events and pay-per-view media. Along the way he’s launched the careers of wrestling stars from Hulk Hogan to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

McMahon said he’d continue in his current position as chairman and chief executive of the WWE. McMahon’s wife, Linda, is chief of the Small Business Administration. Together the two are worth about $1.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

 

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Crayton Harrison at tharrison5@bloomberg.net, Rob Golum, Andrew Pollack

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

© Copyright 2018 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

   
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Vince McMahon, the flamboyant billionaire chairman and founder of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., confirmed he plans to start a new professional football league, entering the market amid a slump in TV ratings for the NFL.McMahon, 72, announced his plans on a webcast...
vince mcmahon, Colin Kaepernick, xfl, national anthem
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2018-54-25
Thursday, 25 January 2018 05:54 PM
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