Is the XFL coming back?

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In 2001, the WWE (then the WWF) and NBC launched the XFL, a no-holds-barred football league that served as a supplement to the NFL, whose broadcast rights NBC didn’t have at the time. A documentary that debuted earlier this year regarding the long-defunct league ended with WWE owner Vince McMahon and former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol musing about a revival.

Now, out of nowhere, rumors of a potential return of the XFL have surfaced, with Brad Shepard reporting that McMahon is “looking to bring back the XFL and may announce it on January 25th, 2018.”

The WWE, when asked to confirm or deny a potential XFL reboot by David Bixenspan of, said this: “Vince McMahon has established and is personally funding a separate entity from WWE, Alpha Entertainment, to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football. Mr. McMahon has nothing further to announce at this time.”

That’s far from a denial, and it feels like an implicit confirmation.

Arguably, the time may be right for the XFL or something like it. A November 2016 Sports Illustrated article regarding the current state of football in America created the distinct impression that fans want old-school football, with all the big hits and none of the obsessions over safety.

“Those attitudes from fans coupled with the messages that invariably will be sent by the incoming Commander-in-Chief,” we wrote on November 16, 2016, “suggest that the time may be right for someone to roll the dice with $250 million or so in the hopes of launching a football league that would essentially operate like a modern-day XFL — loud, proud, violent, brutal, bloody, and everything that the NFL was before political, legal, and social sensitivities forced the league to change.”

The XFL may not compete with the NFL; McMahon suggested in his comments to Ebersol that the league could be connected.

“I don’t know what it would be,” McMahon said. “I don’t know if it’s gonna be another XFL or what it may be or how different I would make it. It seems like in some way it would tie in either with the NFL itself or the owners.”

And then Ebersol said this, which becomes a lot more intriguing in light of recent developments: “Well, certainly the most adventurous owner is Jerry Jones.”

Currently, there’s a disconnect of sorts between what the NFL gives fans and what the fans want (and what the players want to do). Even with everything everyone now knows about the risks of football, players would sign up in droves to play football like it was played 20 or 30 years ago, with helmet-to-helmet hits on defenseless players, crack-back blocks, full-speed collisions, and everything else that football was before the NFL decided to make changes on its own before politicians forced the NFL to do so.

For decades, pro football leagues other than the NFL have launched and then failed. But the time could be right to give fans and players exactly what they want, especially since the NFL in many ways arguably no longer is.

Right, wrong, or otherwise, there’s potentially a lot of money to be made by someone who is willing to say, “Let’s make football football again.” In the current political climate, roughly half of America would embrace it.

Especially if the players are required to stand for the national anthem.

113 responses to “Is the XFL coming back?

  1. Honestly, I’d watch it. It’s hard to have worse referees than the NFL has. If the XFL doesn’t act like the National Flag Football League does, they have a shot at being successful this time.

  2. “…may announce it on January 25th, 2016.”
    Great, now if I can only get a hold of 1.21 Gigawatts I’ll make sure to let everyone know the outcome when I get back.

  3. I still miss the XFL. It was entertaining, but the quality was clearly second rate. I think if it had stayed around a few years, the talent would have progressively increased and they could have ironed out some of the rougher edges.

  4. It should start out as a supplemental league for guys who could probably play NFL but aren’t quite ready. It would probably lead to more talent in the NFL. It’s worth another try. Learn from the past failures.

  5. No better time than now to try this since the NFL can’t get anything right anymore. The NFL is destroying itself. Maybe Mark Cuban would want in on a new football league, especially since his well-known prediction about the NFL’s supposed demise seems more and more correct as time goes by.

  6. I dont think people desire blood and violence. Nobody wants to see someone paralyzed or worse just so they can say ‘Daggum, that’s football like I used to know.’

    People just want football to be football. Theres a big difference between bloodlust and wanting a good clean hit to not be a 15 yard penalty just because it looked bad, or it always being the defensive player’s fault when an offensive player lowers himself at the last second. People dont want violence, but they also dont want players afraid to hit someone on the sidelines like how the Bengals let LeVeon Bell score.

    People, I think, generally, for the most part just want to relax and watch football free from everything else. That’s part of why there is a growing frustration with the NFL, ESPN, etc. and the whole ‘stick to sports’ stuff. Football, or any sport, loses some of that relaxing escape element when you aren’t escaping from things.

    With that said sports are still sports. If the XFL comes back it’ll all come down to the quality of the games. Like the first go around after the first couple weeks of initial interest it won’t matter how different it is from the NFL if the games are lousy.

  7. I’ll watch it. I already watch supposedly good college football where so-called great teams can’t win away games because the fans are wearing different colors and moaning White Stripes songs. XFL talent can’t be much worse.

  8. Dear Vince. Please have the games on Sundays(during the NFL off season), and not on Saturday nights. I think that was the biggest problem with the XFL

    Signed HeHateMe.

  9. This would be great!!! I would love to see these NFL crybabies have to watch guys play the game for next to nothing compared to what they make, and the old fashioned tough guy way! Florio should love this, Krappernick and Manziel might actually make a roster.

  10. …Especially if the players are required to stand for the national anthem…

    If Mr. McMahon is involved, you can bet that not only will it be required, it will be part of the contract to be paid. No stand, no payday.

    WWE through Mr. McMahon has always been one of the biggest supporters of the military and the USO tours and other special events they put on throughout the year. And that support is not “fake” in any way.

  11. NFL needs to cut down on the commercials which they wont. Which is why I’ve enjoyed the NBA more frequently than ever before and continue to do so.

    Until the NFL wakes up my Sundays are spent on the Redzone with no commercials.

  12. The XFL failed for a reason. The USFL failed for the same reason but lasted a little bit longer than the XFL and gave the NFL a small ‘run for their money’. That reason is NFL is king. Period. Any ‘start up’ professional league would have to have VERY deep pockets to complete with the NFL’s billions. Let alone the level of talent the NFL possesses. Even the Canadian Football League can’t keep top level talent from being poached by the NFL. IMO any league that wants to compete with the NFL would be destined to fail AGAIN.
    That being said what the NFL needs to do, and this article hits the nail right on the head, is to go back to ‘Football’.
    Everyone just go and watch some ‘classic’ games from yesteryear. And I’m not talking about the 70’s. For example just watch the 1995-96 NFC championship game between the Cowboys and the Packers. I’m a fan on neither team. I just happened to watch this game recently. What struck me the most was that I kept saying ‘that’s a penalty’ annnnd ‘that’s a penalty’ in TODAY’S incarnation of the NFL. THAT game IS football. THIS game is just one example of what the NFL has lost.
    Today’s game is just hard to watch. Defenses can’t hit anyone. Someone PLEASE tell me what a catch is. Referees have to be lawyers to figure the rule book out. And the replay office can’t even get the calls right. Raise your hand if you’re constantly looking for penalty flags on each and every throw. There is hard nosed Football and there is deliberate cheap shots/penalties. Most football plays today are just ‘bang bang’ plays that are NOT cheap. Sadly it just so happens that someone gets hurt on these types of plays. BUT I think most fans will agree most of these type of plays aren’t ‘intended’ to be dirty’. ESPECIALLY when you have the luxury of HD frame by frame replay.
    The NFL is not what it used to be. And the NFL had already taken a lot of the ‘dirtiness’ out of the game already. And the NFL adapted, for example, by scrubbing the ‘in the grasp’ rule.
    Obviously player safety if paramount but it is ‘football’ for crying out loud. The NFL has to find a way to strike that balance again!
    Feel free to call me for my opinion Mr. Goodell. I’ll give you an earfull 😜

  13. I still say the number one, most important thing for fans is to be watching the BEST. You can complain all you want about the NFL. Totally get it. But nothing is worse than watching someone who wasn’t even drafted, couldn’t even make an NFL practice squad, and he’s making a serious run at an MVP of another football league. The CFL and Arena league would be more successful as legit alternatives for football fans if this were not true.

    I don’t care if there’s more hits, players standing for the anthem, whatever. I want to watch the BEST players.

  14. Whether they want to or not the NFL owners will HAVE TO invest (control) any new football league that looks as if it CAN sustain.. Otherwise they could lose their ironclad control of the players *negotiations.) If they EVER locked them out again… That would BREAK ALL CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS to the NFL/owners and they could literally be “bought out” by other “alternative owners” ie: Donald Trump; Mark Cuban; maybe a Russian (Putin?) would all happily invest on a contract with the members of the (former) NFL Players Association.

    *If they wanted to ensure the players to come-over, they could include “strike insurance” to guarantee 1 year of previous (NFL) contractual salary as the signing bonus for switching/committing” to their new professional league. Provisions could also include disciplinary hearings that are FAIRLY REPRESENTED’ MARIJUANA NON-CONTROLLED. BETTER OWNER-SHARE, and other provisions that “new” league/owners would gladly agree to for the opportunity to own a monopoly on the top TV draw in the United States; an audience that will only watch the BEST players in football, as proved by the old “scab” games (the public wants the BEST.)

    *For THIS league (and this deal/raise) they would agree to STAND for the anthem.

  15. Hard hits doesn’t mean much if there isn’t any talent in the league. But if they loose the wrestling type gimmicks they may have a slight chance to succeed.

  16. It still needs a large degree of safety built in. “Old school” players could play that way because they were smaller and slower. Think of it this way, when playing back yard tackle as a teenager everyone would spring back up, in your twenties a few guys would get minor injuries and by your thirties you have one guy gets hurt just from the act of falling after a shove.

  17. Most people enjoyed professional wrestling when they were adolescents. When they grew up they disengaged until their own children become infatuated.

    Most people used to enjoy the big hits and players being injured. Then reasonable people realized that the players were at risk for CTE and other debilitating injuries. Those reasonable people understand that the game should be enjoyed for the strategy and athleticism on display.

    The people who want “football to be football”, who watch for the perverted pleasure of viewing human’s being injured, are like the adolescents who enjoy professional wrestling, but never grow up.

  18. I loved the USFL when I was a kid and a lot of other people did too as it was extremely popular. It’s a shame that it never stuck around because the league had some great players and coaches.

  19. I am in the “Xtreme” minority on this one but I think an alternate football league that doesn’t directly compete with The NFL could work. Even though history and all evidence suggests otherwise.

  20. I love a good old fashioned, hard hitting NFL game, but I never want to see a guy lying on the field having a mini seizure put back into a game five minutes later. That clip of Tom Savage is unwatchable.

  21. If the XFL comes back, it will fail. Again. Other pro football leagues always have. The public doesn’t support any product other than the NFL. It’s that simple. People know that the NFL is the best game in the world and any other league pales in comparison. That’s the truth. Try taking the NFL away from people and then watch the entire nation rise up in protest. That’s power and, despite the minor fluctuation in television ratings, the NFL is still king of the hill.

  22. this is the PERFECT time to launch a new league! I would support it 100%!
    yes Make them stand!
    yes keep their special interest handouts out of the picture
    yes let the defenders defend the pass again
    yes let them get hit like football of old!
    yes stop the cheating WWNFL ! so sick of the refs putting their thumb on the scale to push whatever flavor of the year WWNFL marketing campaign! (one for the thumb, mannings last hurrah, etc etc)

    hope this thing takes off – this could be the first real competition the WWNFL has ever had!

  23. Awesome…! I hope it happens. Besides the obvious of some former stars, & interesting characters (like the XFL), there were some other positives the XFL brought. Number 1 would have to be the cameras. I rarely if ever, here credit given to the XFL for the cameras that are in use today, that originated in the XFL.

    The interviews, cameras, & overall attitude of the XFL was entertaining. The NFL learned a bit from this & adapted. My point is, IF the XFL is resurrected, or something similar, it will definitely be good for football overall. Even if it is short lived again.

  24. Fans are also tired of a penalty flag on every play, no clear definition of a catch and other rules, TV commercial breaks every five minutes and an incompetent overpaid commissioner

  25. v2787 says:
    December 16, 2017 at 7:41 am
    If the XFL comes back, it will fail. Again. Other pro football leagues always have. The public doesn’t support any product other than the NFL. It’s that simple. People know that the NFL is the best game in the world and any other league pales in comparison. That’s the truth. Try taking the NFL away from people and then watch the entire nation rise up in protest. That’s power and, despite the minor fluctuation in television ratings, the NFL is still king of the hill.
    that has been true in the past, that the “real” league was the NFL – with the best players, game etc.
    roger has done much damage to this league
    you can no longer defend the pass, hit the passer, or play a tough defense. the refs come in nearly every 2 mins to screw something up, they refuse to simplify the rules (which would take the inconsistency away) because they want the ability to control the outcome at some level.
    the league has lost its credibility. the badge is tarnished and people no longer believe its a fair game.
    on top of all of that, now were kneeling. and even if you support the move, the nfl played this entirely wrong. they have made half the fanbase angry and the other anti trump crowd think that the nfl is some sort of political platform.
    the straw that broke the back.
    ratings are tanking and thats undeniable.

    a competitive alternate league that was based on real football, like the USFL, would be successful. not sure about the WWE version, but thats possible too.

  26. Still waiting on articles on the continued downslide of ratings. Quick to hear about a ratings increase on here but not other way around. Looks like all the people who said they weren’t watching……are not.

  27. The XFL failed because it placed so much emphasis on the cartoony aspect of bravado and showmanship. People just want football with rules they understand, less commercials, reviews that last less than 5 minutes, kick returns without flags, commishes who don’t make more than the greatest player of all time, a justice system that is consistent, etc.

    If the XFL cut a deal with Nike to develop uniforms, and they used some of the awesome designs I’ve seen etched out for the current NFL teams that the NFL is too old and boorish to adopt, I think they’d be on to something.

    It doesn’t need to be over the top, just consistent, and basic and it would be a success.

  28. Lastly, if they offered guaranteed contracts, they’d be able to lure a lot of college talent away from the NFL. If the XFL can secure talent directly from college, it can compete.

  29. “I don’t think people desire blood and violence. No one wants to see someone paralyzed or worse just so they can say “Daggumit, that’s football the way I remember it.”

    One would hope so. However, that is exactly what some of these commenters want. Their bloodlust will never be satisfied.

  30. 1974a says:
    December 16, 2017 at 1:23 am
    Pro Football coming back to San Diego, St.Louis and Oakland???

    And Cleveland. They’ve been waiting since the mid 80’s.

  31. It will be crushed. Whichever “brave” investor rolls the dice will sell an inferior product to the easily duped. Then he will write off the bad debt and cash in under the tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy-paid-for-by-the-middle-classs bill.

  32. What could work is a minor league like baseball. Get players from the practice team of NFL and let them get some real experience to show what they can do. NFL teams can retain the rights of the player. Teams would be a mix of players from different NFL teams. Similar to NFL Europe but played in America.

  33. Not sure why people watch the NFL anymore. They always say it’s a “fair” game, but it’s become obvious how rigged it is. They always favor certain teams and intentionally call penalties to help the team they choose to win. Ever year there is always a storyline the league wants to push. Super bowl 49 was will the patriots ignore the outside noise about deflategate. Super bowl 50 is will manning retire a champion. Super bowl 51 how will brady respond after being suspended for 4 games to start the season. It’s so scripted it’s obvious.

  34. The USFL & XFL didn`t work because they tried while the NFL was on it`s upward trajectory. The USFL over spent to get name players like Steve Young & Hershal Walker to go there instead of the NFL while the XFL under spent and had no talent.
    If a new league focuses on real football players playing real football and instead of trying to offer tens of millions to lure the Darnold & Rosens to the league offers 1m to 3rd-5th round picks like Cooper Kupp who aren`t getting paid millions but are real quality football players a league has a chance.

  35. A great start would be a limited number of talking heads and present the game well. It’s all about the games and teams not divas and politics.

  36. The reason the XFL and other leagues have failed is because owners aren’t willing to endure the years of losses it requires to establish success. The instant gratification society we are in goes beyond your teenager begging for an advance on his allowance. It applies to billionaires, too, who simply will not accept losing money for five or six years to build something lasting. It’s about big profits asap, and a non-NFL football entity isn’t going to earn big profits in the short term. So they will try and they will most likely fail. They’ve got a better shot at success in today’s world than back in the 90s, though. I hope they come back and I hope they do well.

  37. Trump fails at USFL and sues the NFL (technically a win with a $3 award)

    Trump hates the NFL

    Linda McMahon of the WWE is in Trump’s cabinet

    Linda McMahon and her hubby Vince own the WWE

    Vince McMahon and the WWE possibly restarting the failed XFL trying to peal away business from the NFL

    Pure coincidence I am sure….. LOL !!!!

  38. XFL won’t come back. A pure football league of professional football players who don’t do drama would make it. Not only make it, but challenge the NFL for top rank.

  39. Too many penalties in today’s NFL: Here’s an idea – make ALL penalties yardage PLUS loss of down. Your dumbass offensive holding call on 3rd and 6 is now 4th and 16 … MAYBE (or maybe not) this would encourage the teaching of proper technique and eventually cut down on penalties. And/or make holding along the line of scrimmage legal. We don’t need lengthy explanations of the penalties, either … have the ref signal the call and be done with it, or signal and announce ONLY the number. Time sops on out-of-bounds and/or first-down plays.

    And STOP playing the National Anthem before sporting events … just not necessary.

  40. If they can market it professionally then it might be viable. The XFL of the past viewed it as an entertainment vehicle and allowed dumb gimmicks like the jersey names to promote the atmosphere. The NFL has done similarly but they have the luxury of a dedicated fan base to work with. Instead of marketing it as entertainment market it as football…real football and fans who are entertained by the game of football will watch. The USFL was a decent league that had the typical issues of a startup but made a dumb gamble trying to directly compete with the NFL. Spring football would be a great bridge between the super bowl and training camps. Any undrafted player would have the ability to get on the field to show NFL teams they screwed up before committing to a team on a scraps based contract. A new XFL could work but it likely won’t due to an expectation of immediate ROI and the desperate gimmicks that are caused by it.

  41. why? ratings for the NFL are down significantly. Do they really think people will waste hours of their day watching D-league football? Nobody watches or cares about canadian football or arena football, and the XFL wouldn’t be any better.

    Sports in general are on a decline. People are starting to realize what a waste of time they are.

  42. I can’t believe people are actually excited for this.

    XFL was just a giant gimmicky B-rate joke. There’s a lot of things about the NFL that i don’t like (referees who love air time, unnecessarily intricate rule book that can be interpreted 20 different ways, offensive coordinators who are so arrogant about their systems that they micromanage all the excitement out of the game and take everything out of the hands of their quarterbacks, people constantly arguing about off field BS, wildly inconsistent suspension criteria, etc) but Vince McMahon is the absolute last person we need to answer the question “what does football need”. Corny contrived story lines, predetermined outcomes, flash over substance, juiced up actors stepping out to “entertain” instead of compete, this is what he specializes in.

    We need real solutions to fix the game, not a league of fantasy land reject BS.

  43. I loved the USFL when I was a kid and a lot of other people did too as it was extremely popular. It’s a shame that it never stuck around because the league had some great players and coaches.

    Me too, Nothing going on in the early spring anyway, but of course one greedy owner ruined it for everyone. XFL was OK. I watched some of the games.

  44. How about no Buck? That makes sense…

    zeeker187 says:
    December 16, 2017 at 7:46 am
    I just want football with less holding calls, less replays, less advertising and less Joe Buck.

  45. And here is your Orlando Rage starting lineup:

    Tim Tebow – Tebowing
    Rod Smart – HeHateMe
    Ben Gay – The Ointment
    Terrell Owens – TO
    Santonio Holmes – PassItHereHolmes
    Antonio Gates – CemeteryGates

  46. I gave up on pro rasslin’ when so many guys started dying in their 30’s and 40’s. Would be unable to watch any McMahon-governed sport due to what would surely be lax rules on steroids. Also, it’s nice to pretend there were bigger hits in football 50 tears ago, but there were never players as big and fast as the ones today. The best of the golden age would be knocked out of today’s games in the first half.

  47. mnrasslinggovjesse says:
    December 16, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Also, it’s nice to pretend there were bigger hits in football 50 tears ago, but there were never players as big and fast as the ones today. The best of the golden age would be knocked out of today’s games in the first half.

    There isn’t a man alive today who’s knocking out Earl Campbell or Mean Joe Greene in the first half.

  48. Vince McMahon style football will still end up being too gimmicky. If there was a straight developmental league played in the Spring though, I’d be interested.

  49. Honestly, this is a bad idea. Then again, this isn’t much of a surprise from a man who is pretty much out of touch with reality. Meekmahan, that’s what I’m calling him, has never really succeeded in anything that isn’t professional wrestling. Oh, I’m sorry… “sports entertainment” as he’s failed with a bodybuilding organization and with the XFL.

    As someone who used to watch WWE until late 2014, there’s a reason I have no interest in the XFL because it’s going to suck and it’s going to rehash some of the things he tried to do in the past. Yet, he unfortunately lives in the past as it has been showing in his godawful product in the WWE. He has tried to make this powerful Samoan into the #1 babyface for the past 3 years as the replacement to John Cena but he’s not what the fans want. Roman Reigns is a fine wrestler but he’s never given a true reason for the WWE audience to root for him as they’ve had to endure so many vanilla individuals like Cena who wore out his welcome after a few years.

    Having Reigns main event WrestleMania 3 years in a row has been bad enough while Meekmahan has allowed guys who are past their prime and who don’t show up very often be the ones carrying the WWE championship while he continuously drools over those with bodybuilding physiques whether they’re clean or not to have them be the next star. This was a recent example into a Indian-Canadian wrestler who was last seen by the fans as a jobber (guy who loses matches to rising superstars or better talent) as he returned looking very roided-up and is suddenly given this unexpected push to be the WWE Champion in an attempt to win over the market in India. What happened eventually proved to be a failure as this bum didn’t draw up any interest while those 2 house shows in India ended up being one where he would lose to Meekmahan’s dufus son-in-law.

    This idea of relaunching the XFL is just an example of Meekmahan being out of touch and this need to prove that he can attract an audience who have had it with some of the shenanigans with the NFL. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a disaster whether it even lasts an entire season as this idea of old-school football will only cause problems as there’s a lot of questions about concussions and injuries. There is also this idea of patriotism which is something Meekmahan is so hell-bent on making sure everyone stands and put their hands on their heart for the U.S. flag. It’s a mentality that has turned off some wrestling fans who are disillusioned with this idea of patriotism that Meekmahan wants to sell. Especially in these times of great division by one of Meekmahan’s moronic friends.

  50. Moderately interesting until the last sentence. If it’s going to be football for crabby old white guys, count me out, even though I’m an old white guy.

    f you require that everybody be politically correct as per Breitbart and Fox, you will have a very limited fan base.

  51. I’d watch it. I quit watching the National (Marxist) Felons League and I’d certainly give Vince a chance to earn my viewership. I just don’t want to see any of what now passes for those hypocritical NFL “values” — you know, criminality, anti-Americanism, “social justice” causes — in my football entertainment.

  52. People are turning off the NFL because all of the drama and sideshows, but are in favor of a league whose main attraction was drama and sideshows? I like the idea of expanding the CFL to a handful of American teams much better.

  53. The CFL probably has no interest in expanding by including American teams … besides, they probably have a private agreement with the NFL prohibiting such expansion.

  54. Social Justice would suggest that a new league be formed to provide more competition to the NFL. And more employment to the People.

  55. ‘If the XFL comes back, it will fail. Again. Other pro football leagues always have.’ Ummmm….have you ever heard of the American Football League (AFL)? Seems to me they succeeded in undermining the NFL so much that the older, established league was forced to incorporate the AFL into the NFL or go broke trying to compete for the same talent pool.

  56. BTW: I counted precisely ONE play mad during a 13-minute window of the Pats-Steelers game yesterday. One play, surrounded by endless, uncountable commercials. Anything would be better than putting up with that kind of crap week in and week out.

  57. I’m not sure this is a good idea. How do you prevent the same kind of behavior out of players as is occurring now? It could end up being just another broken piece of furniture.

  58. If they can somehow partner with the NFL as their minor League, GREAT!

    If Vince and whomever intend to compete with the NFL directly, they better wait a few more years. The League is falling apart, but its not quite the sack of Rome yet.

  59. Interesting twist, being the NFL is already fixed, the XFL could go the route of actually being legit games that are not rigged! I’m in!

  60. Vince has not the foresight, nor humility to pull it off, but…
    what would really work would be a league to compete against the NCAA, as a paid developmental league for the NFL.
    I wonder how many players, who did not want an education, would rather play for pay in a legitimate developmental league, than put up with all the nonsense, fattening the wallets of everyone but themselves, as an indentured servant, in the NCAA.
    Take away the monopoly of the NCAA & maybe the colleges would have to start paying their players, in order to keep them.

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