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Vince McMahon Announces Relaunch Of XFL, But ESPN Host Slams Plans To Prohibit Taking A Knee

The XFL is coming back, according to Vince McMahon, but players in the new league will be required to stand for the national anthem. The announcement comes just as the NFL experienced its lowest ratings ever after a controversial year in which players were supported in protesting the 'Star-Spangled Banner'.

One ESPN reporter blasted the rules already.

McMahon attempted to launch the XFL, a professional football league that was a joint venture between NBC and the World Wrestling Federation, back in 2001.

The league was initially slated to fill in the NFL's off-season, had fewer rules and encouraged rougher play. Ratings quickly tanked and NBC pulled out of the contract.

With all the boycotting of the NFL, McMahon, head of World Wrestling Entertainment, is seizing the opportunity to revive the XFL, though he says it will be 'reimagined' for a new launch in 2020.

This time, he says, there will be no partners. McMahon will be funding the entire venture.

This time, there will be rules. Players will be vetted, and people with criminal records will not be permitted to play.

Time limits will be strictly enforced, unlike in the first XFL attempt in which games ran into ridiculous overtime lengths.

And, McMahon says, players will stand for the national anthem.

“As far as our league is concerned, our league will have nothing to do with politics,” he said after announcing that players in the XFL will expect to follow the 'time-honored tradition' of standing and respecting the flag.

"People don't want social and political issues coming into play when they are trying to be entertained. We want someone who wants to take a knee to do their version of that on their personal time,” he told the Independent Journal Review.

ESPN's 'Pardon the Interruption' host Mike Wilbon quickly supplied some negative feedback after the announcement.

"First of all, all the stuff that he outlined. I'm going to touch on a few them."

"It seems like just garbage. Like he wants to sell some sort of whitewashed, idealistic, you know, brand of something to the country," he said.

"And I don't think people are going to buy that. I don't think he'll have enough people to fill the spots to even play it."

"Game's going to end in two hours. You can't have a criminal record."

"They're not going to have any rebels, because ya'll are gonna salute the flag. You know, I don't believe in people like this," he said.

"I don't believe this guy specifically," he added.

Whether the XFL takes off in 2020 or not remains to be seen, but talking about the need for a new league is nothing new.

Conservatives who are furious with the NFL for allowing players to protest on the job have been boycotting football. This resulted in a sharp drop in viewership this year, but many of those people find themselves missing their old pastime.

On the other side of the politically heated aisle, some black athletes have supported the idea of an all-black league. Rapper Sean 'Diddy' Combs has expressed a dream to buy the NFL and to turn it into an African-American sports league so that players 'have the freedom to be a great human and protest for your people without being demonized for your beliefs'.

Many other rappers and NFL players have offered to chip in for the league.

Either way, the new league could definitely put pressure on the NFL during the next labor negotiation. A new league could give some current NFL stars leverage.

Source: Independent Journal Review
Photo: ESPN, YouTube

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