The XFL is coming back. Again. This time, though, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at the forefront of the operation. Back in 2020, the league was brought back by then-owner Vince McMahon. However, the remainder of its 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the league later suspended its operations entirely. Now, though, the XFL will perhaps have the best chance to stick around as Dwayne Johnson’s new NFL collaboration will see the XFL test out new safety measures.
The XFL president Russ Brandon told Kevin Seifert of ESPN, “People would ask, ‘What are the opportunities to look at the game through a different lens from a player development standpoint? How can you be an incubator or an accelerant in many different verticals, from officiating to rules innovations to playing surfaces, to player development?’ You can go on and on.
The league sees the opportunity in branching out a bit. In potentially trying out new things to better serve players and give the NFL something else to look at for future decisions. Player development is at the forefront of the league, and the league sees itself not as a developmental league for the NFL, but as a league that can experiment with important things for its players.
He continued, “Any opportunity that the NFL has to advance the game of football, I think they’ve always been open to, and we’ve had some really good dialogue, led by our ownership group.” The NFL always wants to get better. The XFL wants to stick around long-term this time. It makes sense that the league would like to somehow assist one another to grow the game and make it better for fans.
The Rock on The XFL
When the league was first announced to come back, The Rock wrote on Twitter, “As owners, we’re proud to champion our XFL players, coaches, cities and fans into an electrifying 2022 season.” He continued, “I’m so inspired to put in the work because football always represented an opportunity to me. Opportunity to take care of my family. And even though my dreams of playing pro football never came true — I’m in the exciting and humbling position to create opportunities for players so their dreams can come true. It’s an uphill battle — but we’re hungry, humble and no one will outwork us.”
The Rock may have jumped off his career in pro wrestling in the WWF, but he first starred in football at the University of Miami. It was football first. Then, things changed. He changed gears and pivoted to wrestling. Then to Hollywood. Now, Johnson is one of the biggest stars in the industry today. The XFL clearly means a lot to him. He wants to see it work.
With its spring schedule, the opportunity is there. The league can work with the NFL and experiment.