The rise and fall of XFL - Vince McMahon's wild, sexualized, exaggerated answer to football that lived and died in one season
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- In 2001, WWF chairman Vince McMahon and then-NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol created XFL, a violent and sexualized version of the NFL.
- McMahon, who successfully turned wrestling into a global phenomena, hyped it so much that by the time games aired they were a letdown.
- It lasted a single season, recorded some of the highest and lowest ratings on network television, and lost NBC and WWF $70 million.
- Now, almost 20 years later, the XFL is coming back.
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The XFL was born, lived, and died in a single season.
In 2001, Vince McMahon, the man behind the rise of WWF, decided he could do football better. With backing from NBC, and his former business partner Dick Ebersol, he created the XFL.
LA Magazine called it "the wacky, tacky, controversial, ultimately catastrophic failure of an NFL alternative." Jason Gay wrote for the Wall Street Journal that McMahon positioned it as "a gladiatorial wedgie upon an allegedly effete NFL."
Alongside rule changes making the game more violent, it encouraged players to have catchy nicknames like "He Hate Me." There was also an excessive focus on cheerleaders.
McMahon built it up so much, and left so little time for players to train, that by the time the games aired, they were a letdown. XFL's opening night had some of the best ratings for its Saturday night timeslot, but within weeks, ratings plunged.
The league lasted a single season, and lost $70 million. Now, almost 20 years later, the XFL is coming back.
Here's how it all went wrong the first time.