XFL 2020: What you need to know

21 Apr 2001: The Los Angeles Xtreme and the San Francisco Demons during the XFL Championship game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran/Allsport
21 Apr 2001: The Los Angeles Xtreme and the San Francisco Demons during the XFL Championship game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran/Allsport /

Vince McMahon’s press conference to announce the return of the XFL in 2020 was short on concrete details, but here are the pertinent ones we know so far.

The opening of Vince McMahon’s XFL revival announcement presser was dazzling. It promised a faster, safer game of professional football that was extremely (no pun intended, since the X in the original XFL more or less stood for Xtreme) fan-focused.

After those first few minutes, when McMahon started answering questions from the press through cool-looking XFL helmet-speakers, things slowed and the reality set in. The XFL isn’t coming back until 2020 because there’s a lot of work to do first.

That means that a lot of details about the league are only in their infancy. For example, McMahon offered little in the way of specifics as to how the XFL would be safer than the NFL game, except to say that the league would consult with experts to make it so. Standing for the national anthem was another question that McMahon was asked multiple times and sort of dodged, or at least one to which he did not give a firm answer.

Still, there was at least a broad vision for that the XFL will look like in 2020, so here’s a FAQ for what you need to know right this second.

How many teams will the new XFL have?

McMahon stated that we can expect an eight-team league, with a single-entity model. In other words, the teams will all be owned by the league itself and not be franchises.

It will likely be some time until we get an idea where these teams will be located. McMahon seemed open to cities without NFL teams, but also said its important to play pro football where there are facilities to do so.

How long will the season be, and will the XFL be a spring league?

The XFL will play a 10-game regular season with playoffs after that. It sounds like it will start play right after the Super Bowl, as McMahon scoffed at the term “spring league,” perhaps to distance it from the USFL and others who have gone that route.

Beginning play in, say, mid-February would mean the regular season would wrap up around the end of April and playoffs could go into May. So we’ll call it a winter-spring league for now.

Will the original XFL teams and logos return?

Probably not. McMahon noted that the XFL itself would be reimagined just as he sees it doing the same for the game of pro football writ large. He did leave some wiggle room for some team names and logos to return if the fans wanted them, as part of his “we’re going to listen to everyone” shtick.

Which rules will be different?

Here’s where some of the vagueness was intriguing instead of frustrating. McMahon promised a faster, simpler game, so hopefully he means things like an easy to understand catch rule, for starters.

He also clearly articulated his belief that pro football should be shorter, that three-hour-plus games are too long. The XFL will aim for two-hour games, though the only ideas Vince floated during the presser were eliminating halftimes and taking less commercial breaks.

That latter idea might become a necessity anyway when we consider this next question …

Who will broadcast the XFL games?

We don’t know that yet. The original XFL was a 50/50 joint venture with NBC, but there’s no broadcast partner lined up yet. McMahon seemed open to the idea that traditional TV networks and streaming services could be part of the overall package; he’s open to anything, really.

Where will the players come from?

Again, McMahon was somewhat fuzzy on the particulars here, other than expressing his belief that there is a wealth of talent that goes beyond the NFL (people might disagree on there being a surplus of top level QBs and kickers, but hey). Will there be enough money to lure big name college stars a la the USFL or will this be largely a league of castoffs and second chance players like the original XFL? We’ll have to wait and see.

Some members of the media asked about specific players like Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick, to which McMahon suggested that anyone would be welcome as long as they followed some as yet unwritten code of conduct. That’s going to be interesting to watch.

Will the players be allowed to wear nicknames like “He Hate Me” on their jerseys?

Signs point to no, though McMahon seemed tickled by the idea that Rod Smart, who wore that infamous moniker on his XFL jersey in 2001, will live forever.

Next: What does the new XFL mean for Vince McMahon's WWE role?

Will WWE talent or broadcasters be involved in the new XFL?

No. McMahon was very clear on this point, having the question posed to him at least twice during the press conference. So forget Jim Ross and The King reuniting to call a game, and don’t expect sideline interviews by The Miz.

Furthermore, McMahon said he would not be “out in front” of the league’s efforts to establish itself over the next two years. We’ll see if he sticks to that plan, but for now, don’t expect the WWE and XFL to be connected by much except having the same man at the very top of each venture.