World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE: WWE) CEO Vince McMahon never wanted to close down the XFL, the pro football league he launched with dreams that it would rival the NFL. That decision was made for him when his broadcast partners pulled out in 2001 after the much-maligned league had only played one season.

In theory, the XFL was supposed to be a tougher, more entertaining alternative to the NFL. By design, it was both more outrageous and violent, with the goal of offering fans the energy that had gone missing from the "No Fun League." In reality, the XFL provided audiences little more than a few odd nicknames and a closer look at some future NFL backups before it folded.

Now, however, as the NFL faces a new set of challenges, McMahon is apparently exploring the idea of trying to go into football again.

This is not a WWE move

It's important to note that whatever new football league might emerge from these explorations, the situation will not be the same as when he launched the XFL. That league was partly owned by WWE. This time around, McMahon is acting on his own through a new venture he funded by selling part of his stake in the wrestling company.

McMahon has sold 3.34 million shares in WWE, roughly $100 million worth. That money, according to an SEC filing, will be used "primarily to fund a separate entity from the (WWE) Company, Alpha Entertainment LLC, which Mr. McMahon established to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football," Deadline reported.

Under Alpha, McMahon has also filed trademarks on various versions of the "XFL" name as well as some for "URFL." McMahon has not commented on his new venture, but did say he wanted to bring back the XFL in an ESPN documentary about the league's single season.

"I don't know what it would be. I don't know if it's going to be another XFL or what it may be, or how different I would make it," he said. "It seems like, in some way, it would tie in either with the NFL itself or the owners."

Will this work?

If McMahon can make a deal with NFL owners, there may be room for a sort of football minor league. Such ventures have been tried in the past -- most notably with NFL Europe -- and they have failed.

Without an NFL partnership, any football league McMahon does create will almost certainly fail. In fact, even if he can get the NFL on board (which itself seems unlikely), a new XFL or URFL would seem to have little chance of success.

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Daniel B. Kline owns shares of World Wrestling Entertainment.

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