Report: Vince McMahon sells $100M of WWE shares, potentially to restart XFL

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Vince McMahon holding a press conference regarding the XFL in 2001. Getty Images

If the XFL isn't coming back, Vince McMahon is doing a poor job of convincing the world that's true.

Less than a week after a WWE spokesman issued a statement to Deadspin that left the door open for the return of the defunct professional football league, McMahon and his new, self-funded Alpha Entertainment venture have taken over filings for five different trademarks of "XFL," ESPN's Darren Rovell reported Thursday.

The filings were originally made by the WWE months ago, as Rovell later clarified, but "the records say they did it" on Dec. 16 and the trademark requests have since been relinquished to McMahon and Alpha Entertainment, which WWE previously told Deadspin is an unrelated entity meant "to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football."

A follow-up report by Rovell on ESPN.com said McMahon is also fresh off a sale of 3.34 million WWE shares (or about $100 million worth) to help fund his Alpha Entertainment company amid his pursuit of a new XFL.

The trademarks, which were "abandoned" between 2002 and 2005, also cover merchandise related to a potential league. And they aren't the only ones being used to try to identify a professional football league under Alpha, as McMahon and Co. are also seeking the rights to "URFL," per Rovell.

McMahon himself has yet to address rumors of an XFL comeback, but Brad Shepard had already reported earlier on the day of WWE's statement that McMahon might have an official announcement on a revived XFL as soon as Jan. 25, 2018.

As CBS Sports' Adam Silverstein previously noted, "the original incarnation of the XFL was a joint venture between WWE (then-WWF) and NBC with McMahon and former NBC executive Dick Ebersol spearheading the project." Dubbed an outdoor pro football league with eight teams, added physicality and an infusion of WWE personality, it ceased operations in 2001, the same year it hosted its inaugural season.

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