Vince McMahon

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson To Buy XFL

Finally, the XFL has come back to the news cycle. On Monday, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced that he has purchased the XFL. Johnson’s group – with backing from Redbird Capital Partners – will acquire the league from Vince McMahon for $15MM, as Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com tweets

[RELATED: Former XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck Sues Vince McMahon]

The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things – my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” said The Rock. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”

The XFL’s relaunch ended midway through its (re)inaugural season, prompting McMahon to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. McMahon put the league up for sale in May and reportedly attracted “dozens” of potential bidders. Ultimately, McMahon’s longtime WWE superstar presented the top offer. McMahon, meanwhile, still has some loose ends to tie up. Commissioner Oliver Luck sued McMahon in April and other executives have filed claims to collect their pay.

The XFL 3.0, presumably, will target a 2021 relaunch. In the meantime, a number of XFL players are pushing for NFL roster spots in training camp.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

XFL 2021 Return In Play?

Spring football may have another chance. Despite the in-season cancellations of the Alliance of American Football and the XFL the past two years, the latter may try to relaunch one more time.

The XFL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, and Vince McMahon put the league up for sale earlier this month. Contrary to some rumblings, McMahon confirmed he has no plans to buy back the league at a lower cost, according to The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan (subscription required).

However, bidders have emerged, with Kaplan adding that potential buyers have indicated they would plan a 2021 XFL season. The league’s investment bank, Houlihan Lowkey, indicated “dozens” of prospective buyers have surfaced. Most are eyeing a spring 2021 season, Kaplan notes.

Although the 2020 XFL season did not make it as far as 2001’s did, the product was better received than the more sensational endeavor was 19 years ago. XFL’s first effort made it through the season but did not return for a second year. The COVID-19 pandemic ended up nixing the rebooted season halfway through its 10-game slate, and several XFL 2.0 standouts have landed on NFL rosters.

The second XFL effort included messy fallout as well. Commissioner Oliver Luck sued McMahon in April. Several of the eight teams’ presidents filed claims to collect their pay, Kaplan writes in a separate piece. The sale process may drag on until September, Kaplan adds. This would complicate matters regarding player acquisitions for a potential 2021 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vince McMahon Puts XFL Up For Sale

Could the XFL reemerge for a third time? After shutting down the league, laying off all of its employees, and declaring bankruptcy, Vince McMahon has put the XFL up for sale, according to Dan Primack of Axios.

[RELATED: Former XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck Sues Vince McMahon]

The XFL and its managing investment bank has requested letters of intent to be submitted by June 12. After that, formal bids will be due on July 6. Together, they’re attempting to make a case for someone to purchase the XFL. They say the league was on track for $46MM in revenue last year with an average game attendance of 20K. While those attendance numbers might be accurate, the league was said to be handing out lots of free tickets to fill the seats.

It’ll be tough for the WWE czar to find a taker, industry investors tell Primack, though one source says it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

There are lots of people who are very rich but not rich enough to own an NFL team, so maybe someone will see this as the next best thing at a bargain price,” said the investor, who is not personally mulling a bid for the XFL.

The XFL released players from their contracts on March 12, allowing quarterbacks Josh Johnson, P.J. Walker, Jordan Ta’amu, and others to seek NFL deals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Former XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck Sues Vince McMahon

Former XFL commissioner Oliver Luck is taking Vince McMahon to court, as Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic writes. Luck is seeking restitution for what he says was a wrongful termination. 

[RELATED: XFL Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy]

The XFL shut down operations in the midst of its comeback season and, recently, filed Chapter 11 to renegotiate its debts. Meanwhile, Luck was set to earn at least $20MM on the multi-year contract he signed back in 2018. McMahon’s attorney says a letter was given to Luck to explain “the reasons” for his firing. In short, Luck is set to argue that he was fired without cause; McMahon will contend that he was fired with cause and, therefore, he does not owe him anything.

Luck helped steward the league’s relaunch, even as he and McMahon watched the Alliance of American Football beat them to the punch.

“We watched them closely,” Luck said in the summer of 2019. “Personally, there was no dancing on the grave, no schadenfreude. I was hoping they’d make it through their championship game. … It’s helped us a little bit, reaffirmed our model. The AAF also made some mistakes. (The Apollos), in the sports business, that’s like a pilot forgetting to turn the engine on.”

The XFL has laid off all of its employees with no current plans to resume operations, so this could be the last we see of the experimental league. However, McMahon may have lots of legal filings and court dates ahead of him – that’s usually the way things go for companies that file bankruptcy.

Luck, the father of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, should be able to land on his feet once the dust settles. After earning his law degree, Luck held key positions in the NFL, NCAA, and MLS.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

XFL Suspends Operations, Lays Off Employees

The XFL has suspended operations and laid off its entire workforce, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The XFL was already on the ropes thanks to the COVID-19 epidemic and this could prove to be the knockout blow. 

Vince McMahon attempted to reboot his football league with a ten-game (re)inaugural season, but he was forced to shut things down halfway through. Initially, the XFL expressed confidence that it would return in 2021, but McMahon might be forced to close up shop on the XFL for a second time.

Similar to the first time around, the XFL received mixed reviews from fans. The league did well in TV ratings to start the year as viewers looked for post-Super Bowl entertainment, but interest tailed in the following weeks. Still, the XFL featured a host of notable names and those players were released from their contracts on March 12, freeing them to pursue deals with NFL teams. Quarterbacks Josh JohnsonP.J. WalkerJordan Ta’amu were among those who were in, then out, of the XFL 2.0.

XFL employees will be paid through Sunday, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. In his conference call with employees, COO Jeffery Pollock did not provide a timeline for when operations might resume.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

XFL Not Bound By NFL Draft Eligibility Rules

The XFL won’t compete with the NFL for players, but the league could still gain high-end talent by not being obligated to follow the NFL’s draft-eligibility rules, CEO Oliver Luck told ESPN’s Outside the Lines (Tweet by ESPN’s Kevin Seifert). 

The NFL’s draft rules are well known, as any player who wants to put his name in the pool must be at least three years removed from high school. By not adhering to the long-held practice, the upstart league could be an option for any notable freshman or true sophomore who doesn’t want to wait.

It’s hard to fathom a top quarterback testing the waters, but a high-profile running back trying it out to make the most out of a relatively short professional shelf life is much more feasible. It will definitely be an interesting caveat to watch in the coming years.

In more XFL news, WWE chairman Vince McMahon sold more than three million shares of WWE stock in March with the intention to use the proceeds to fund the new football league, Sports Illustrated’s Dan Gartland writes. The sale netted McMahon just under $272MM.

Obviously, with that type of investment, McMahon is not worried about the failures of the AAF, which recently suspended operations. In response to the league’s folding, the XFL issued a statement (Via Pro Football Talk):

“We have said all along the success or failure of other leagues will have no impact on our ability to deliver high-quality, fast-paced, professional football,” the league owned and operating by Vince McMahon said, via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal. “The XFL is well-funded, we have time before kick-off to execute our business plan, and we will soon announce a national broadcast and cable TV schedule that makes it easy for fans to find our games consistently every weekend when we launch next February. There is no doubt that avid football fans want more and we’re excited to get going in 2020.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

XFL Markets Leaked Ahead Of Impending Announcement

The XFL was expected to make an announcement next week about the locations of its inaugural eight teams, which will begin play in 2020. However, the league inadvertently released the information on its website on Saturday, which was captured in a screenshot by WrestleZone.com and posted on Instagram.

The cities captured in the screenshot are Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Tampa Bay and Washington D.C., and included phone numbers for each franchise. In addition to the markets, the sites for each team began trickling out shortly after the leak.

The Tampa Bay franchise was confirmed by Thomas Bassinger of The Tampa Bay Times, which called the number associated with the team and received a recorded message from XFL commissioner Oliver Luck stating:

“Hello, this XFL commissioner Oliver Luck. Thanks for calling XFL Tampa Bay. We’re excited to call Raymond James Stadium home when the league launches in 2020, and we appreciate your support.”

Raymond James Stadium, of course, is the current home of the Buccaneers, who declined to comment on the situation.

The Washington franchise will reportedly play its games at Audi Field, Rick Maese of the Washington Post writes. As the league is expected to kick off its 10-week schedule in February 2020, the field will serve both football and soccer for a time due to the stadium’s main tenants, MLS franchise D.C. United, beginning their schedule in March.

The Dallas franchise could potentially wind up playing its home games at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas Rangers beat reporter Evan Grant writes for the Dallas Morning News. The park will host its final game at the end of the 2019 season, leaving it vacant for a potential XFL team for the following February.

The league has declined comment since the leak.

The original XFL operated in 2001, when World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon partnered with NBC to form the league. The broadcast corporation pulled out after one season and the league folded soon after.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Alliance Of American Football To Launch In 2019

WWE boss Vince McMahon is planning to re-launch the XFL in 2020, but he’ll have some serious competition in his bid to become the nation’s top competitor to the NFL. Charlie Ebersol, who directed a documentary on the XFL last year, has founded the Alliance of American Football, a league that will debut on Feb. 9, 2019. 

Unlike the XFL, Ebersol’s league already has a television deal in place. The league’s first game and championship games will air on CBS, while the CBS Sports Network will carry one game per week. Other games will be available via the AAF’s app.

The league, which will host its first game one week after Super Bowl LIII, will have a 10-week season and 50-man rosters. The players will be cast from the NFL’s scraps, meaning that it can be a way for those on the fringes of the league to showcase themselves for 90-man roster spots in the NFL.

Former NFL GM Bill Polian and Steelers safety Troy Polamalu are involved in the operations side while former NFL players Hines Ward and Justin Tuck will serve as advisors. Charlie’s father, famed television producer and former XFL partner Dick Ebersol will also serve on the advisory board.

Many football leagues have come and gone over the years, but the younger Ebersol says that he is taking a long-term approach.

I think where businesses like this fail is that they expect to have ludicrous and unrealistic ticket and media deal projections in Year 1,” Ebersol said. “Our investors here understand that it’s a seven- to 10-year plan.”

Vince McMahon Announces XFL Reboot

The XFL is back. Roughly 17 years after its closure, WWE boss Vince McMahon announced that he is making a new foray into professional football.

In a press conference, McMahon declared that the XFL will return in 2020. Much like the first incarnation of the XFL, the introductory presser was sparse on details. However, as McMahon noted, the league is giving itself significantly more time to plan for the launch.

The league, McMahon says, will have fewer commercial breaks and move faster than the NFL’s version. The XFL will “start conservatively” with eight teams and 40-man rosters, but host cities for the teams have not yet been identified.

Surprisingly, McMahon’s “re-imagined” brand of football will not feature him as a brand ambassador. The WWE CEO vowed to bring in experienced football executives to run the show and said that the press conference might be the last we see of him with regards to the league. He added that there will be no crossover of talent from the wrestling organization to the football league, a stark difference from 2001 when Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler served as a commentary team.

There was some speculation that McMahon could position the league as a more patriotic alternative to the NFL, but he says the league “will have nothing to do with politics and nothing to do with social issues.” Instead, McMahon says the league will focus on its on-field product, though he was non-committal when asked if standing for the anthem will be mandatory.

Already, former University of Kentucky star Jared Lorenzen has volunteered his services for the XFL. “Well well well, how are you doing over there [Vince McMahon] and [Alpha Entertainment]?,” the Hefty Lefty wrote (on Twitter). “I see you may be looking for some athletes. I got ya. May be I do have 1 more comeback left me. #HeAteMe

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vince McMahon To Launch Football League

What a time to be alive. On Thursday afternoon, WWE chief Vince McMahon will announce the formation of a new football league, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com (on Twitter). XFL (featured)

Of course, McMahon has done this before. In 2001, he partnered with NBC to launch the XFL, a league with no rules and no viewership to match. McMahon’s experiment drew phenomenal ratings in its debut, but fans tuned out over time, leading to the league’s closure after one season.

It’s presently unclear whether McMahon will use the XFL moniker for his new league. McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment offshoot has filed trademarks for “XFL,” but the company has also earmarked “UFL” and “United Football League.”

Given the current political climate and the backlash against National Anthem protests during the 2017 season, McMahon may look to brand his league as a patriotic alternative to the NFL. He might be able to tap into something on that front, but his venture will not succeed unless he can field a better talent pool with bigger stars than last time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.