The new-look XFL will launch in 2020 without a political bent or a desire to pursue social justice issues, founder Vince McMahon announced Thursday, but its players will respect a “time-honored tradition to stand and appreciate” the national anthem.
The head of World Wrestling Entertainment didn’t offer specific conduct rules for the anthem during the news conference announcing the league. It was in line with the rest of the conference, with details like team locations, rules and broadcast partners to be determined.
But McMahon said it would be “appropriate” for players to stand and that all players will adhere to league rules on the matter. Other league rules will bar players with criminal records from participating, he said.
The league’s return had been in the works before the NFL’s anthem controversy, McMahon said during the conference.
“As far as our league is concerned, our league will have nothing to do with politics,” he said when asked about whether President Trump, a former WWE performer and onetime owner of the New Jersey Generals in the defunct United States Football League, would endorse the project.
NFL player protests during the national anthem have led to multiple military- and veterans-related issues for the league, the most recent coming with a rejected Super Bowl program ad sought by AMVETS that would’ve included a #PleaseStand hashtag.
McMahon funded the league through Alpha Entertainment, a new private entity. He will continue as chairman and CEO of WWE.
The original XFL was founded by the wrestling company and jointly owned by NBC, and premiered to massive TV ratings. But the audience did not stick around on Saturday nights to watch second-rate football, lascivious cheerleader shots, sophomoric double entendres and other gimmicks that quickly doomed the league.