Television ratings for the N.F.L. have fallen 17 percent over the past two seasons. The league is embroiled in a continuing crisis over concussions, and youth participation rates are falling.
All of this suggests a difficult future for the sport, yet the N.F.L.’s most notorious competitor, Vince McMahon’s X.F.L., has a comeback in the works. McMahon, the chairman and chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, announced on Thursday that he would take a second crack at professional football, with play scheduled to start in early 2020.
McMahon first tried to reimagine pro football 17 years ago. The old X.F.L. was a joint venture between the World Wrestling Federation (W.W.E.’s former name) and NBC, which had lost rights to broadcast N.F.L. games. Violence was amped up: An opening scramble replaced the coin toss and fair catches were banned. So was the sex appeal, with cheerleaders who were even more scantily clad than the ones in the N.F.L., and advertising that included innuendo about them.
[...] Other than the name, this version will have little in common with the old X.F.L., he said. There will be no cheerleaders, McMahon said. Players with criminal records will not be welcome. Political statements, such as kneeling during the national anthem, will be prohibited.