Vince McMahon is going to try once again to run a professional football league. The chairman of the WWE announced he is bringing back the XFL after the first version failed horribly back in 2001. It cost the WWE and NBC over $130 million combined. Back then, McMahon tried to use his attitude era wrestling gimmicks in football, and everyone thought the results would be predetermined, with storylines featured more than the games. There were a few gimmicks, such as going into the cheerleaders locker room, but ultimately it was the bad football that buried the XFL.
This time, McMahon isn’t rushing the league like he did before, instead starting it in 2020. This gives him time to scout talent, sign players and properly prepare for a season. And with the NFL being a haven of newly washed up players, McMahon could have his pick of some once talented players to bring media attention and legitimacy to his league, even if these players are past their prime.
With the football clearly not being as good as what the NFL could be, McMahon can take a few shots on some players who are at the end of their career, or find ones looking for a second chance at fame in the start up league. He may even convince a few former Super Bowl champions to come his way, and get this version of the XFL started off on a much better foot than the 2001 version. Here are players McMahon should target that the NFL will have done away with by the time the 2020 season begins.
15 Adrian Peterson
The XFL is going to need some name value behind it, someone to get the fans watching the games and get them in the seats. So why not start with Adrian Peterson, who at one point was the best running back in the NFL. He rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2012, but has since split time between New Orleans and Arizona and placed on injured reserve to end the season. His time as a starting running back is over, but at just 32-years of age, he would be 34 by the time Vince McMahon’s XFL gets back up and running for its second try. Having someone with the name value of Peterson in the backfield on opening night will surely get the media talking about the XFL, and if he can put up good numbers, would go a long way to helping legitimize the league.
14 Tony Romo
Tony Romo may be retired from the NFL, but he still has something to prove on the field. Injuries derailed the latter part of his career and allowed Dak Prescott to pass him by as the starter in Dallas. Romo still had game left in him and was one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league. At Age 37, Romo would be 39 entering the XFL, but just look at what Tom Brady is doing at 40-years-old. Against less competition, Romo could be the Tommy Maddox of the XFL 2.0, and finally earn himself a championship ring, assuming he can get by the hump that is the playoffs. For Vince McMahon, a player with the name value of Tony Romo would be great to bring advertisers or to help sell seats and merchandise for his league, as the XFL of old lacked player recognition.
13 Andy Dalton
With a very slow start to the 2017 season, Andy Dalton’s time under centre with the Cincinnati Bengals is running out. He hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2014, has lost all his playoff games (4), and struggled to find consistency with AJ Green. But with plenty of game still in his arm (25 touchdowns this past season) Dalton would be an elite starter on an XFL Championship team. If Vince McMahon was going to shill out big dollars for quarterbacks, Dalton would be one of the top quarterbacks to try and lure away from the NFL after he soon declines and becomes a back up somewhere else in the league. Especially with his ability to air it out and command a game, which hasn’t brought the Bengals any closer to the Super Bowl, but would surely shred defences in the XFL.
12 Darrelle Revis
Revis Island doesn’t seem like such an amazing destination anymore, as Darrelle Revis, once one of the league most feared corner backs, has lost his game. Revis signed a two-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, but it’s only a matter of time before he gets released. Enter Vince McMahon and the XFL, who can capitalize on the fact that Revis is a big name defensive player with marketability, who could be a fixture on any team in the XFL for their opening season. He isn’t going to need to shut down NFL caliber wide-outs in the XFL, and he more than likely would still be covering the best wide receivers in the league, but we’re not talking Julio Jones or Antonio Brown in this case. He would be 34-years-old when the XFL starts, so he also offers a mentor role to upcoming players.
11 Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler came out of retirement in 2017 to play in Miami. He still managed to throw 14 interceptions, but he tossed 19 touchdowns and threw for 2,600 yards. He isn’t going to be a starting quarterback in the NFL again, not after his horrific time in Chicago where he was known more for his interceptions than throwing ability. But against a less-than-professional defence in the XFL, the once ‘gunslinger’ could find a new life with Vince McMahon. Cutler would be 36-years-old by the time the XFL debuts, so in the mean time he could settle in to a nice broadcasting gig, waiting for the payday McMahon would give him to have a NFL quarterback in his league. The former first round pick may like being the starter for once, as opposed to being the guy everyone criticizes for throwing better to the other team than his own.
10 Tavon Austin
There was plenty of attention on Tavon Austin after he went eight overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, but unfortunately Austin’s production took a dramatic drop in 2017, as he caught only 13 receptions for 47 yards, despite starting in nine games for the Rams. Through five years with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, Austin has only one game with over 100 yards receiving, and his 5-foot-8 frame isn’t going to make him a steady option in the slot in the NFL if he’s already dropping numbers like he did in 2017. The XFL, however, could be a shot at being a No. 1 wideout. McMahon is going to need some players with professional experience to rub off on other players, and Austin, who could be a wash out by 2020, should be on his radar of players to target once he gets released from the Rams.
9 JaMarcus Russell
The former first-overall pick in the 2007 draft has often been called the biggest bust in NFL history. After he held out from signing a contract in Oakland, Russell didn’t do much in his time in Oakland before being released. He could never find a home, and put on a considerable amount of weight. But he tried to make a comeback, or rather, comebacks, but so far hasn’t been able to find a suitor for him in the NFL. Perhaps a stint in Vince McMahon’s XFL would be a better for Russell, considering he hasn’t played in the league since 2009. Everyone loves a comeback story, and no one would better produce a montage for a returning Russell like McMahon could. Just being able to say he got another former high draft pick would bring great media attention, even if he was a complete bust at the highest level.
8 Trent Richardson
Trent Richardson was once considered the next Adrian Peterson, however, being drafted to the Cleveland Browns is not the greatest start to your career. Richardson is still playing football, only this time north of the border as part of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. In 48 rushing attempts, he had 256 yards and two touchdowns. His time on the prairies may be limited, and if his CFL career falls apart, the only option left may be Vince McMahon’s XFL. Who wouldn't love to have a two-time national champion in their league as a way to lure in college athletes who don’t make it into the NFL. Considering Richardson would still be under 30-years-old when the XFL starts, he would still have some run left in him, and could be a staple of any team that lands him for the first couple of seasons.
7 Andre Johnson
Andre Johnson is a sure-fire hall of famer, but you wonder if he should have called it quits earlier, as his time away from the Houston Texas hasn’t been stellar. It has dropped Johnson from being one of the most feared wide receivers in the game, to one that is about to be washed out of it. The former third overall pick in the 2003 draft retired in 2016, but with the right convincing by Vince McMahon, the current 36-year-old could make one more trip to the end zone in a league where he would be the number one target on any team he was to play on. Considered how the last two seasons went for Johnson, it’s a chance to save face before he heads into the NFL hall of fame.
6 Robert Mathis
Defence wins championships, even in Vince McMahon’s high-flying XFL, which in it’s first edition wasn’t known for it’s great defensive battles. But if you want to bring in a solid defensive player who has six Pro Bowls along with a Super Bowl ring, you look at lifelong Indianapolis Colt Robert Mathis, whose career took a sharp slide since earning 19.5 sacks in 2013, which lead the NFL. Mathis didn’t play in 2014, and recorded five sacks in each of the next two seasons before retiring from football. He could be a mentor for the upcoming players in the league. McMahon has to think long term and grow a crop of players on his own, so he’ll need some experience and leadership in the locker room to ensure there is no antics on or off the field, keeping advertisers and networks happy in the long run.
5 Colin Kaepernick
You can’t say Vince McMahon has ever shied away from controversy. Giving Colin Kaepernick a chance to be a starting quarterback again is a move he might be willing to make, even though Kaepernick brings with him a heap of scandal surrounding his taking a knee during the national anthem. Although, it could be an interesting story, considering McMahon’s wife Linda is a member of the current U.S. administration, and we all know how the president feels about players kneeling when the national anthem is being played. McMahon seems to not want Kaepernick, but who knows what can change in two years. For McMahon’s second chance at taking on football, why not take a shot on a guy who is taking on racism in America, and grab the spotlight from it while you’re at it.
4 Mario Williams
The former first overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft doesn’t have a home anymore after being released by the Miami Dolphins last year. Williams had five seasons where he recorded 10 or more sacks, even at one point having the most career sacks in Houston Texans history until J.J. Watt broke that record. Now the 32-year-old is without a team, and the XFL is in need a defensive player who can mentor younger players in the league. The four-time Pro Bowler would be 34 by the time the XFL season kicked off, giving him a few more seasons where he could scrape together some more sacks and turn the clock around. As a former No. 1 draft pick, he comes with name value, so even though he might be washed up, Vince McMahon could use him as another name that brings legitimacy to his up-start league.
3 Robert Griffin III
The 2011 Heisman Trophy Winner and second overall pick in the 2012 Draft was released by the Cleveland Browns last year, after a disappointing season filled with more injuries. Since suffering a knee injury with the Washington Redskins, RG3 hasn’t been the same since his Baylor days, and was dethroned from his start role in Washington by Kirk Cousins. He could be widely considered a bust, having only started 42 games, but will his feet being his favourite weapon, Griffin III could find a place in the XFL to get his career back on track. He’s a big name, with a lot of draw power, perfect for McMahon’s second attempt at making a legit football league. He could be a league standout, and rekindle some of the magic he had in his first NFL season against some, not so stellar defences.
2 Tim Tebow
Vince McMahon has said he doesn’t want players with criminal records in his league, and while that would definitely hurt the pool of players he has to select from, that leaves the clean-cut Tim Tebow as the front runner to be McMahon’s face of the XFL. Tebow wants to be a quarterback, and while his throwing mechanics aren’t the greatest, his ability to break tackles and take off with the ball makes him an attraction. He’s been washed up in the NFL since 2012, and since then has been trying to make it as a baseball player, but if McMahon were to award Tebow a healthy salary and a chance to be that starting quarterback again, he may land himself a whale of a player that will grab media attention. He’s the ultimate baby-face for McMahon, which leads us into the heel the league needs.
1 Johnny Manziel
Johnny Football hasn’t played a meaningful down of football since being released by the Cleveland Browns in March of 2016. In two seasons with the Browns, Manziel started eight games, throwing for seven touchdowns in his final season. Now Manziel is looking to find a home in the Canadian Football League. However, getting him a contract has proven to be difficult, as Manziel wants to be paid like the top quarterbacks in the league, despite having limited experience.
But for Vince McMahon and his second try at the XFL, Johnny Football is exactly who they need to draw in the crowds that will want to see Manziel play every week, which should help ratings, sponsorship and finding a network for the league. Especially when you consider he comes already packaged with an incredibly good gimmick as the ultimate heel, something the WWE promoter will love to market.