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McMahon looked north before XFL

By PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

 Before Sherwood Schwarz bought the Argos in 1999, Vince McMahon wrestled with the idea of purchasing the team.

 The WWF owner told The Toronto Sun he explored the idea when the Argos were on the market and he was approached about his interest.

 "It started out with someone presenting the possibility of the Toronto franchise," McMahon said, preferring to keep the contact name anonymous. It is believed to be Jeff Giles, who was the CFL president at the time and flew to the WWF offices in Stamford, Conn., to talk to him.

 McMahon's interest escalated to more than just the Argos.

 "At one time the (CFL) tried to penetrate the U.S. market (1993-95) and they failed, but I thought that could have been done," he said. "I wanted to make some changes -- not revolutionary changes -- and the only way to penetrate the U.S. market, without having to deal with a bunch of board of directors, is for one person to have control.

 "I did want control over the league in some way to sustain it first and foremost in Canada, but further to bring it into the States and compete in that fashion. That didn't work out, unfortunately.

 "I didn't know that they weren't willing to accept me as a partner. I, quite frankly, did not have access to all of (the board of directors) to be able to speak to them, so I don't know how it was presented.

 "I would think they'd want to lock into the marketing acumen and what we might be able to bring to the league, not just on a marketing basis but overall television production and whatever basis."

 The board nixed the idea -- even though some directors and Giles wanted to continue talks -- concerned about the direction the league might take while possibly losing its Canadian heritage.

 "I'm not really ticked off or anything like that with anyone in the Canadian Football League -- hell, I wish them all the luck in the world," McMahon said. "Whether the Canadian Football League expansion would have been more successful, I don't know, it may have been."

 McMahon formed the XFL last year, but the football league lasted only one season.

 "I'm extremely proud of what we did in the XFL, very proud of it and always will be," he said. "It wasn't a success for a variety of reasons, but we don't have enough time for me to enumerate all those reasons. In any event, I'm proud of that. That's a rich part of my history. It didn't last that long. Once NBC bailed, it was like, 'How long do I want to hang on to this?'

 "I'm proud of the experience. I'm better off because of it and I think our company is better off as well. I don't think it would have been financial suicide at all (to keep going). I just think it was a prudent decision to make at the time because we had some challenges here in our own core product that needed attention.

 "I'm proud of the effort that was made, proud of the attitude that was there and it could have worked just as easily as not."


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