Uh oh, here we go again.
While some might be too young to remember, the remainder of us will never forget.
Back in 2001, a merger between the World Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE) and NBC went horribly wrong when the XFL was brought to life. It was an alternative football league meant to dethrone the NFL from its perch.
It did not work.
With pro wrestling overtones, including WWF announcers Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler helping call the action, distorted rules, provocative cheerleaders and jerseys with nicknames like “Death Blow,” “Gladiator,” “Chuckwagon,” and “He Hate Me,” on the back, it almost instantly failed.
The XFL folded after one season with the WWF and NBC reportedly losing $35 million apiece in the venture.
Now, 17 years later, here we go again.
Vince McMahon, the WWE founder and chairman, is starting another professional football league.
Of course, there is a chance McMahon learned from his previous mistakes. Perhaps he is surrounding himself with people capable of creating a compelling league. Maybe he discovered new methods of presenting the product that will captivate the world.
After all, this is the man who turned pro wrestling from a multitude of small nationwide markets into one global audience, transforming his once-small company into a billion-dollar corporation. I’m not going to judge his business acumen based one unsuccessful endeavor nearly two decades ago.
But like the XFL, this new league is doomed to fail.
Even if everything goes perfectly for McMahon, there is simply no room for his creation.
The market for football is saturated with the NFL and NCAA dominating the American audience, and even though this country loves the sport, enough is enough.
The odds of the league overtaking either of the current football juggernauts is minute at best, meaning it will have to serve as a complement to the others, and nobody will absorb it.
Sure, there is a niche market for everything, and it might catch on with a segment of the population, but it will be overlooked by the masses. It will be passed over when flipping through the channels, and after the initial novelty wears off, mainstream media will forgot, relegating it to the level of the NBA G League or Minor League Baseball.
Despite its dreadful reception, the XFL was innovative, helping to popularize the use sky cams, on-field cameras and player microphones long before they became common parts of the viewing experience.
So, maybe this new league can be impactful in a similar manner, but it can’t compete with the NFL or NCAA. At best, it becomes a novelty act like roller derby or competitive eating.
There is no want or need for a third football league, but regardless, it is coming, so here we go again.