Memphis Maniax eyeing possible return as XFL announces comeback
The Xtreme Football League is coming back and that opens the door for a return to professional football in Memphis
Late last month, Vince McMahon announced the return of the Xtreme Football League (XFL) which could possibly mean the return of professional football to the city of Memphis.
Grind City hosted one of the leagues eight teams, the Memphis Maniax, during its only season in 2001. Geographically speaking, Memphis would still make perfect sense as a city to place a team in the new XFL which McMahon says will kickoff in 2020.
Memphis is a top-50 news market, promising plenty of exposure for the return of the startup league, and, no NFL team within three hours and therefor many people left without a favorite National League Football team, there isn’t much competition from the NFL for fans.
In May of 2017, according to the United States Census Bureau, Memphis held a population of 652, 717 people, making it the second largest city in the state of Tennessee, and, including surrounding areas such as Northeast Arkansas and Southwest Mississippi, the greater Memphis area contains 1,317,314 potential fans, should the Maniacs make a return.
During their only season in 2001, the Memphis XFL team drew in an average of 20,396 fans per game, in five home games. Games were played at the Liberty Bowl, and all indications are that, should Memphis receive a team for the second- coming of the XFL, that the Liberty Bowl would be happy to host another squad in Bluff City.
“There’s an awful lot of players that want to play pro-football in the nation today,” said former Memphis Maniax vice president and general manager and current executive director of AutoZone Liberty Bowl Steve Ehrhart told Action News 5. “Plenty of great coaches around to have jobs, too.
Memphis always had some of the best teams in the spring leagues.”
Memphis’s draw of 20,396 fans per game in 2001 is just under the average attendance of the Los Angels Rams this past season, with the Rams averaging 23,335 people per home game in 2017.
Of course, locals may be wondering why they should get on board. After all, partially due to so many sparks and flares, the start-up league fizzled out after only one season 17 years ago.
Well, McMahon understands the skepticism and the wrestling mogul promises a much more serious league this time around.
For one, McMahon has already said that players with criminal records are off limits. So, though Johnny Manziel will not be gracing the Liberty Bowl, the door is open for names such as Collin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow are more than welcome.
Also, McMahon said that other gimmicks will not be parts of the new XFL, including distracting cheerleaders and himself.
Though McMahon never shys from being in front of a camera, the owner of the WWE says he has no plans of being visible in the new XFL, even though is the sole financial contributor to the new league.
Of course, the “no distractions” policy which centers around solely proving fans entertainment through football means other things too. McMahon says that players in the new league will not be allowed to use the playing fields of the XFL for social protest, including in the form of taking a knee during the national anthem, and will that the XFL will not have any political agenda.
'People don't want social and political issues coming into play when they are trying to be entertained,' McMahon said. 'We want someone who wants to take a knee to do their version of that on their personal time.' Another factor is the potential success of the leagues revival is that the XFL will now have two years to prepare for its debut, compared to the one year the original XFL took to plan things out.
McMahon says that the timing of his announcement about the return of the XFL has nothing to do with the NFL’s struggles for ratings or his friendship with President Trump.
Linda, McMahon, Vince McMahon’s wife, heads the Small Business Administration in Trump’s Cabinet.
It isn’t clear whether the Maniax will return in the new XFL. McMahon says that, as of now, every city is on his radar and that host cities for the new league will be announced “over the next couple of months.”
By Collins Peeples