If there is one thing you can say about Vince McMahon it may be that he is not a stupid person. The guy knows how to make a buck and is not afraid to try something new if it could lead to a positive net return.
Not everything McMahon puts his hands on pans out as expected, of course, and the XFL will go down as one of his biggest failures. But maybe it is that failure that motivates McMahon to give it another try and use the lessons he learned from his previous XFL experience to ensure a better product all around?
— WWE (@WWE) January 25, 2018
If McMahon does announce the return of the XFL, McMahon would be wise to tap into his ability to market star attractions and find a way to parlay that into his new football league. Why not start that with Johnny Manziel?
Manziel was one of college football’s biggest stories when playing at Texas A&M for a variety of reasons. His NFL career jumped off a cliff almost as soon as it started, and now Manziel has been teasing his fans and followers about a possible comeback season (or as he markets it, his Comeback SZN) for a while. The CFL has been the most likely landing spot for Johnny Football, but a revived XFL would be the perfect landing spot for Manziel. The two would seemingly be made for each other.
Through the good the bad. The ups and the downs I won’t stop until I get back. Whether that’s North or South of the border I promise you the #ComebackSZN is happening. https://t.co/rJa86X04Yl pic.twitter.com/ARQIogCG1S
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) January 19, 2018
Back to the grind. I have goals to achieve and people to prove wrong #ComebackSZN
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) January 22, 2018
McMahon is a marketing wizard who has transformed the wrestling industry in gigantic ways over the years. One of the main reasons for the rise of the WWE has been the ability to showcase top stars that have been built from the ground up under McMahon’s watch.
In the XFL, McMahon could have his dynamic star player right off the bat if he could find a team for Manziel. We saw the first time around with the XFL just how much fans will gravitate to a star player with Rod Smart, better known to many as He Hate Me. Unlike the last time the XFL tried playing football, a potentially revived XFL would already have a star player in Manziel.
That would be a significant starting point for the league as any attempt to bring the XFL back would face an uphill battle. Having players fans would recognize would be a big perk that was not available the last time.
The landscape for sports programming is much different now than it was back when the XFL kicked off. With an abundance of networks available now that were not around back then, the XFL could have more options to work with to make this product work. The main networks will not be touching this potential revived XFL, but the possibility of broadcasting games on FS1 or some other lower-tier sports cable outlet would be in play. There is also, of course, the WWE Network. Want to watch the XFL? Better pony up $9.99 for a WWE Network subscription. The problem is the XFL won’t have that much interest right off the bat, so the XFL will have to make a home on another network, perhaps even a cable network already in business with WWE.
But McMahon can handle the TV issues if needed. That will be the least of McMahon’s concerns right off the bat. It is how the game is presented. A new XFL would be wise to not play the same cards the original league did. If this is going to be a rough and “in-your-face” Attitude Era style of football the WWE tried to play off before, it simply won’t last much longer than the original league. And in today’s world where more and more attention is being given to concussions and player safety, the WWE cannot market this as a brand of football that isn’t for the softies in the crowd. The XFL would need to find the perfect blend of playing good football and offering something unique that fans will tune in to watch. Manziel running wild on defenses might be enticing if Manziel is ready to handle the job.
The XFL and Manziel just feel like a match made in Heaven… or Hell in a Cell. The two could thrive together for years or the XFL betting on Manziel’s comeback story could go crash and burning in a hurry. Either way, if the XFL does come back, Manziel should absolutely be one of the top players available.