The XFL appears to be finished for a second time according to new reports. In March, the XFL had canceled the rest of the returning league's first season, joining other major sporting leagues like the NBA and NHL in shutting down their scheduled games in the interest of public safety. At the time, it was suggested that the league would return in 2021, but that no longer seems to be the case after nearly all XFL employees were laid off on Friday with the exception of a handful of top executives. This also seems to have effectively shelved the company's plans to kick off another season starting next year.
"Given the uncertainty of the current environment, the XFL has suspended operations and is evaluating next steps," the WWE-owned football league said in an official statement. Meanwhile, former staffers were informed of their dismissal from XFL COO Jeffrey Pollack with a conference call on Friday. Though Pollack isn't saying that the return of the XFL is officially toast, that's the feeling the staffers on the call walked away with, and it does seem to be a likely outcome. "It's done... it's not coming back," one former employee who was on the conference call is quoted as saying.
WWE boss Vince McMahon first tried his hand at professional football nearly two decades ago when he first launched the XFL on NBC in 2001. Inspired by the "Attitude Era" of pro wrestling, the football league sought to blend the two forms of entertainment by encouraging rougher play on the field. Though ratings started off strong, it was perhaps a bit too much like WWE for most football fans, leading to a fast decline in viewership. In the end, the failed experiment had cost both WWE and NBC millions of dollars, and McMahon axed the league after its inaugural season much to the surprise of no one at the time.
Still, you've got to admire the unlikely comeback of the underdog football league. In February, the XFL returned with plans for a ten game season, this time presenting a much different product compared to the 2001 incarnation. Gone were the WWE-inspired sports entertainment elements, with new rules increasing the speed of play. The result was better received with sports critics than the original XFL, and there seemed to be great potential for McMahon and WWE to finally find success with the little football league that could. Needless to say, recent events couldn't have come at a worse time for the new XFL.
It remains to be seen if McMahon will roll the dice with the XFL once again in the future, but with so many millions of dollars now lost on the venture for a second time, he may just finally wash his hands of his desired football league. Of course, McMahon will still have his hands full with WWE endeavors, as there are no plans to halt wrestling matches and weekly shows from the company anytime soon - even if they're shot in empty arenas without the presence of fans. This news comes to us from ESPN.