Player protests have been at the forefront of the sports world in recent years, especially in the National Football League, but do not expect that to be the case when the XFL officially relaunches in 2020.
World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon is getting back into the game of football, as on Thursday, he announced the relaunch of the XFL, the league that lasted only one season back in 2001, and he made strong inclinations that players will be required to stand for the National Anthem.
“It’s a time-honored tradition to stand and appreciate the National Anthem with any sport here in America, or for that matter, any country they do that, so I think it’d be appropriate to do that,” McMahon said in a press conference announcing the reformation of the XFL.
“The National Anthem is a time-honored tradition that’s played to this day, and many, many years in the past, prior to most athletic events in our country and in many other countries. Whatever our rules are will be what everybody abides by. There will be plenty of opportunity and plenty of ways in which players, coaches, members of the media can express yourselves in terms of your own personal views as far as social aspects are considered whether it’s Twitter or Facebook. We’re here to play football. When we come onto the field, we’re here to play football. That’s everyone’s job.”
According to McMahon, he wants to deliver a product that is all about football.
“As far as our league is concerned, it’ll have nothing to do with politics, absolutely nothing, and nothing to do with social issues either,” McMahon said.
“We’re there to play football. We want really good football, and I think that’s what fans want as well. When they tune in, I don’t know that they want to be dealing with political issues and things of that nature. They want really good football. That’s what we’re going to deliver.”
In addition to standing for the National Anthem, McMahon wants players of good character representing the eight-team league, which will feature 40-man rosters and a 10-game regular season, and was specifically asked about quarterbacks Johnny Manziel, Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow.
Manziel has a long history of off-the-field concerns and is currently trying to resurrect his playing career in Canada, but has yet to reach an agreement on a contract with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, while Kaepernick ignited the protests in the NFL when he sat, and later knelt for the National Anthem during the 2016 season.
Tebow has been out of football since 2012, tried to make a career for himself in baseball and does broadcasting work as well.
“In the XFL, the quality of the human being will be as important as the quality of the player,” McMahon said.
“What I mean by that is, you want someone who does not have any criminality whatsoever associated with them, and in the XFL, even if you have a DUI, you will not play in the XFL. That will probably eliminate some of them, not all of them. If Tim Tebow wants to play, he could very well play.”