WWE's chairman and chief executive Vince McMahon already has an opponent in drawing away NFL's football fans, and it comes from a surprising name: Charlie Ebersol. Not only did Charlie's father, and longtime NBC executive, Dick help Vince launch the original XFL 17 years ago, but the younger Ebersol directed the recent ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on the original failed launch of the XFL. Today, Ebersol announced the formation of the Alliance of American Football.
After political protests by NFL players and concussion injuries gained recent attention, ratings for the league fell by 17 percent. Perhaps seizing on this environment, McMahon announced this past January that he'd revive the XFL (backed by $100 million in stock he sold). He emphasized a more family-friendly stance than the previous XFL, downplaying the sexy cheerleaders and violence of the original league and adhering more to the current PG-era of the WWE. He also stressed nonpolitical actions during games and employing players without criminal backgrounds.
Ebersol's announcement of his Alliance for American Football league also might mean McMahon's plan will come too late. Whereas Vince wants to revamp the XFL in in early 2020, his rival scheduled his launch for February 9, 2019 on CBS, soon after the next Super Bowl.
Ebersol's father and Vince's former partner Dick will serve on a board of directors that will also feature former NFL stars Hines Ward, Justin Tuck, and Jared Allen. The stated goals are similar to McMahon's reboot of the XFL, such as shorter games and utilizing top-level talent from college football who don't make it into the NFL. In addition, Ebersol wants games to be affordable, with good seats available at $35.
"I wanted to build a team of people who were significantly more accomplished and smarter than I was and let them build what they thought the future of the sport was going to be," Ebersol said in press announcement.
Ebersol emphasized the AAF is in it for the long haul.
"We're not looking for out-of-box, rocket-ship success," he said. "The XFL, USFL as a live event were successful businesses, but expectations were so high. We want to manage expectations, because we're built for a long-term model."