In the heady days of the new millenium, the hugely successful WWE, riding high on a product that had turned them into an international force in mainstream entertainment, decided to get into a new arena. Thus, in 2000, Vince McMahon partnered with NBC Universal to create the XFL, a football league that brashly declared they would compete directly with the National Football League. A year later, the league played its first games, and while the early results were good, things went downhill quickly, and ultimately, the league folded after a single season, a black eye on the sport that was reduced to a catchphrase on late night talk shows. So many things went wrong in such a short time, that the details of the league have mostly been lost to history. But it’s important to understand the XFL’s effect on professional football in America, and how, if not for a few things, it might have even survived to this day.
10. Originally, Vince McMahon Wanted To Buy The CFL
The Canadian Football League has traditionally been the place where many football players go if they can’t make it in the NFL (and in an indication of how bad he was, Tim Tebow couldn’t even make a CFL team, though he did try). It has also usually existed in a state of financial instability. For a few years in the mid-90s, they even expanded to the United States, putting teams in places without an NFL franchise, like Birmingham, Memphis, and a couple aborted attempts at Las Vegas (the XFL would also place teams in those locations for much the same reasons). They had abandoned the idea by 1996, but while searching for new owners for some of their franchises, they approached Vince McMahon. Vince never followed through on buying a CFL team, but in 1999, he came back with an even bigger plan: he was going to buy the entire CFL. Ultimately, the CFL Board of Governors rejected the idea, and Vince instead paired up with NBC, who had already been planning to create their own league in the wake of losing their NFL television contract to CBS.