Hoo, boy.

When 2017 was done drinking acid for Instagram likes and 2018 was born fresh and innocent, I thought we'd be treated better than this.

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But here we are. Tide Pods are in, institutional accountability is out and, once again, a con artist is trying to sell us on an alternative lifestyle.

Yes, the XFL is a thing again, albeit in name only for now. No, you absolutely should not pay attention to it.

It’ll just be mediocre high school football.

Vince McMahon, you may recall, is the man who runs a steroid-infested soap opera. He wants to give the XFL another go in 2020.

He insists he’s going to take time to listen to the fans, limit the amount of penalties and present a product that’s “family friendly.”

Because a violent game with fewer rules is going to be safer for the kids much in the same way that rolling back meat-packing regulations will end with fewer human finger bones in your ground beef.

McMahon wants athletes who have no criminal records and no qualms about being forced to stand for the national anthem. He doesn’t want his players talking to the media about their political or social beliefs.

You know, like most high school players.

Then again, McMahon said he wanted a lot of things in his introductory video. But they were mostly vague platitudes. "Football reimagined," might be the most substantial takeaway of the whole thing, though he didn't expand on that idea either. 

It's almost as if he has no real plan like a mediocre high school football team.

If you’re between the ages of 18 and 21, you probably don’t remember the spectacle of stupidity the league produced. But let me try to help you understand: Imagine if the most misogynistic “Rick and Morty,” fans you know tried to sell the public on the idea of underpaid staffers speeding a supercar around an unpaved track with no brakes or seat belts. Oh, and instead of pit stops, the cameras just go into a locker room to film cheerleaders and Dan Harmon exchanging cringeworthy sexual innuendos.

You’re rightfully thinking to yourself, “Morgan, that’s insane.” Yeah, it is. But that’s roughly what America was treated to in this pre-9/11 dystopian cultural wasteland.

In February 2001, the first XFL game debuted to an estimated 14 million TV viewers. I was one of those saps. A 10-year-old ragamuffin in Tampa, I spent the league’s one and only season as a fan of the Orlando Rage. My mom even bought me a hat with the Rage’s and XFL’s logos on it.

I bet if I found it today, it’d be worth less than when she bought it.

After the first game, attendance and viewership plummeted. The audience for the second week fell by over 50 percent. By March, the XFL set a new record for the lowest-rated primetime program on a major network, with just over a million people tuning in to watch the Las Vegas Outlaws take on the Birmingham Thunderbolts.

In a league that downplayed the role of kicking and the fragility of athletes, Los Angeles Xtreme kicker Jose Cortez, who contributed four field goals and nothing else, took home the MVP trophy in its only championship game. (Side note: Orlando quarterback Jeff Brohm got a concussion in one game, said “Do I or do I not currently have a pulse? Yes, I do. Let’s play football,” then suffered a career-ending injury the next week.)

Bob Costas, who worked for NBC at the time the company was televising the original XFL games, once joked with Conan O’Brien that, “It has to be at least a decade since I first mused out loud, 'Why doesn't somebody combine mediocre high school football with a tawdry strip club?’”

This time around, McMahon has learned his lesson: no tawdry strip clubs. This time around, it’s nothing but mediocre high school football.

Morgan McMullen is the online editor for Alligator Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin and contact him at mmcmullen@alligator.org.

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