The XFL, the controversial football league founded by Vince McMahon in 1999 that lasted one season, is set to return in 2020. But it won't be the only new professional football league -- or even the first to begin play.
Charlie Ebersol -- the son of NBC executive Dick Ebersol, McMahon's partner during the XFL's first stint -- announced in a press release that the Alliance of American Football will debut on Feb. 9, 2019 on CBS.
The younger Ebersol, who directed ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary on the XFL, brought in former NFL general manager Bill Polian to help oversee the league. Former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu will oversee the player side and former USC standout and executive J.K. McKay will oversee the team side. Advisors include former players Hines Ward and Justin Tuck, and Dick Ebersol.
"The Alliance of American Football represents a fundamental shift in the way we approach professional sports," Charlie Ebersol said. "We believe fans and players are what's most important, so our approach is simple -- we've created an Alliance where fans and players share in the success of their teams."
"Players have our commitment that we will seek the highest degree of safety and our support as we continue to invest in their success off the field with post-football career scholarships and financial wellness programs," he continued. "With the expertise of Bill Polian and a leadership team of respected former All-Pro players and executives, we are committed to putting the best football product possible on the field every weekend, ensuring that 2018 will be the final year fans have to experience a six-month period without football."
The plan, like the XFL, is to stock the league with players who don't make it onto NFL rosters.
"There is a significant amount of football talent looking to begin or extend their professional careers," Polian said. "The Alliance will provide those players with a new opportunity to compete at a high level. Our players and fans are the lifeblood of The Alliance, and we will treat them as such."
"We will give players an opportunity to flourish on the field while establishing plans to support their personal and professional growth, health, safety and financial well-being. This is our commitment to them and will result in an exciting pro football product on the field that fans across the nation and in our markets can rally around."
CBS will air the league's debut game on Feb. 9, 2019, one week after Super Bowl LIII on CBS. The network will also carry the Alliance of American Football's championship game on the final weekend of April 2019. One regular-season Alliance game will air exclusively on CBS Sports Network each week as well.
"As the Alliance of American Football launches next February we are excited to become the official television partner, adding more football to our robust programming line-up with a great package that includes two primetime games on CBS, as well as a full slate of regular-season spring football on CBS Sports Network," said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. "With Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian at the helm we are confident that the product they will deliver will be entertaining, exciting, engaging and something that fans will really enjoy."
The league will have eight teams in cities to be announced in the next three months. Rosters will have 50 players each and will be built primarily through a regionally-based draft. To differentiate the Alliance of American Football from its competitors, there will be no TV timeouts and 60 percent fewer commercials. Other differences will include no kickoffs and instead of onside kicks, the trailing team will receive the ball on their own 35-yard line facing fourth down and 10. There will also be a 30-second play clock and mandatory two-point conversion attempts after touchdowns.