The XFL’s made great strides to assert that it won’t be the rough-and-tumble WWE on grass that we knew and loved from the early 2000s. This will be a more buttoned-up product. To head up the day-to-day business of the league, the XFL has hired Oliver Luck away from his post as an executive with the NCAA to be the commissioner of the league.
“Football has always been a constant in my life and I’m excited about the unique opportunity to present America’s favorite sport to fans in a new way,” said Luck in a league press release. “The XFL will create first-class organizations that local cities across the country will be proud of.”
Luck brings a wealth of experience from former jobs as the athletics director of West Virginia, CEO of the Houston Sports Authority, and, most recently, the head of regulatory affairs with the NCAA. He is also the father of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
As evidenced by chairman Vince McMahon’s strange introductory press conference in January, this league will be different. Featuring eight teams, 40-man rosters and a 10-game season, it will fill the offseason void for football. But it won’t be with flare.
It will not hire players who have arrest records, McMahon said. And it will make sure that all of its players stand for the national anthem, a policy that stands in stark contrast to the NFL. The more family friendly XFL even comes through in the league’s new red-white-and-blue logo, as opposed to ‘01’s in-your-face black-and-red one. “We want to entertain — that’s what we do,” McMahon told The Daily. “There are not going to be any politics involved with this thing. We’re not going to have any social issues involved. People want to be entertained. ... It’s the entertainment value that sometimes is lost.”
Luck’s clearly in line with McMahon.
Oliver Luck, new CEO of the XFL, in an interview with me just now: "We respect individual freedoms. But we will require our players to stand for the national anthem."— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) June 5, 2018
McMahon said he wouldn’t be too involved in the day-to-day like he was during the XFL’s first go-around. Hiring an established sports executive to legitimize a sports league from the start isn’t new. The Big3 basketball league hired former Oakland Raiders exec Amy Trask to be its CEO back in 2017. The AAF — another spring league — has former NFL general manager Bill Polian and former safety Troy Polamalu overseeing it.
The XFL plans to kick off in 2020.