New XFL takes different approach


Michael Del Negro, Special to The Cub

Follow Mike on Instagram @xflanalyst

Dwayne Johnson’s new XFL kicking off in February 2023: Will it succeed this time around?

On April 10, 2020, Vince McMahon pulled the plug on his newly rebooted XFL, firing all employees and staff due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. All hope was lost for the league. No one had a plan. Except for one man. That man was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. 

On August 3rd, 2020, Dwayne Johnson, his ex-wife, and current business partner Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital agreed to purchase the XFL out of bankruptcy for 15 million dollars. But since then, it has been nearly two years since the purchase of the league. This leaves a huge question: Could this actually work out?

A New Concept

While the XFL in 2020 brought in a lot of fans and revenue, the new version of the XFL looks to take a different approach. 

While the XFL in 2020 had teams play and practice at their appropriate assigned stadiums and cities, The new XFL plans to have football headquarters stationed in Dallas, Texas, where teams and players will live and practice throughout the season. 

When game day comes around, teams and players will fly to their team’s appropriate city where they will play their game. This approach will help save money while establishing a new root for themselves as the new sports league in the United States. 

One of the major reasons the XFL was very successful in 2020 was because of the team locations and marketing. 

The XFL put teams all over the United States, leading the East division with Washington DC, New York, Tampa Bay, and St Louis, and The West division having Seattle, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Houston. Markets like St Louis, Seattle, and Houston did very well, leading the league in attendance numbers. But markets like Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, and New York struggled, and will most likely be replaced with other cities. 

San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Orlando are considered front runners to become new cities for the new XFL franchises, and will surely bring way better attendance numbers as proved so in the past. The now-defunct Orlando Apollos and San Antonio Commanders of the Alliance of American Football averaged over 19,000 to 30,000 fans per game. 

The XFL will likely bring in those same numbers in both of those major football-loving cities. But What about Las Vegas? That will be very hit or miss. Without a Spring Football team being located in Las Vegas since 2001, it will be very hard to determine whether their attendance numbers will be high or low. 

But one or two questionable market cities won’t determine the outcome of the league. 

While the final team locations are still yet to be determined, the XFL has officially locked up eight Head Coaches that will lead each team. Leading the list is former NFL Wide Receiver and HBCU Head Coach Reggie Barlow, followed by NFL Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, Former NFL Tight End Anthony Becht, Former New England Patriots Defensive Back Terrell Buckley, Pittsburgh Steelers legend Hines Ward, Oklahoma coaching legend Bob Stoops, NFL Coaching legend Wade Phillips, and former NFL coach Jim Haslett.

 Although some coaches lack the resume to be an XFL coach, The XFL is a league for opportunity and chances for anyone, no matter their background. It is an opportunity to prove a statement. A very different strategy and a brand new concept that is destined to work.


The XFL’s Decision to wait and play until 2023 seemed like the smartest approach they could have taken, but there is still one problem in the way they have to face. 

The United States Football League. After being revived in June 2021 by Fox Sports, The United States Football league has a very large sum of former XFL players currently playing in their league, which runs from April until July. 

The United States Football League made each player sign a contract clause that states they could not leave the United States Football League for any other football league, including the XFL unless an NFL team has an interest. 

This guaranteed the United States Football League players that they would return for seasons to come, as well as providing fewer and less skilled players available for their competitors, the XFL. The seasons will most likely inter-lap in 2023, and the competition between the two leagues will likely come down to the quality of play and the quality of football. Whichever league can capitalize on the quality of play and the quality of football will succeed.

More than just a football league

One of the main reasons Dwayne Johnson wanted to purchase the XFL was to give players a second chance at living their dream of playing football for a living. A chance he wished he had gotten after being released from the Canadian Football League. 

He sees this as more than just a football league. He sees it as a living. An Opportunity. A passion. Jake Sutherland, A member of the New York Guardians in 2020, said that the sport of football “Needs the XFL.” 

“Without the XFL I probably wouldn’t have played professional football. I had interest from teams in the league (NFL), but that was it. I know I can play all good at the professional level, and the XFL has helped me in being able to showcase that.” 

Sutherland plans to try out for the XFL this summer in hopes to be drafted by a team and continuing his pro career.

Reece Horn, a member of the Tampa Bay Vipers in 2020 said that the XFL was an “Amazing Opportunity” for him. 

“First class all the way. Great Competition, atmosphere, and the coaches and staff were great.” 

Horn, who has bounced around multiple football leagues including the NFL and XFL, is currently playing for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

Can this league come together for success?

This league can become very successful again if they just follow the right steps. They already have continued support from both the players and fans. 

 “I’m very happy this is coming back” said Hayden Everhart, a fan of the XFL since 2019. 

“I enjoyed the XFL a lot in 2020 and I know the new owners can build off what went well in 2020 and come back even better than before. I know they can capitalize on the quality of play as well as the quality of the players coming out of NFL training camps this year. I am excited to travel back down to Houston to watch the team play again. It is going to be very exciting and one hell of a ride.” 

I guess all that’s left to do is wait and see what happens from here. February 2023 can’t come soon enough.