Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson envisions a world where the XFL is a viable and competitive professional football league. Much like hoping for world peace and Tom Brady finally retiring after the 2021 season, football fans may want to re-assess those being realistic ideas.
The scoreboard hasn’t hit triple-zeroes yet, and Johnson seemingly remains optimistic about his goals. But it’s also getting late early for “The Rock” and his team, especially after receiving some unfortunate news from Canada.
The XFL and CFL will not have a formal partnership going forward
Ever since the XFL announced its intent to re-launch for a third edition, there has naturally been plenty of skepticism and doubt. Not even “The Rock” and his charming smile could alleviate those concerns.
However, the Canadian Football League is now playing heel to Johnson’s face. The CFL issued a statement on Wednesday, July 7, announcing that any potential partnership between both sides will not happen.
“Our talks with the XFL, exploring the potential for collaboration and innovation, have been positive and constructive. While we remain open to finding new ways to work together in the future, we and our XFL counterparts have jointly decided to not pursue any formal arrangements at this time.”CFL
As a result, the XFL announced it would not begin playing until 2023. Johnson initially hoped the XFL, which ended its 2020 season prematurely because of the pandemic, would resume games in 2022. The CFL did not play in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although rumors involving a potential partnership have persisted since March 2021, credible details about what that would entail never emerged. Now, we may never know.
Johnson might need to throw the white flag on the XFL
Johnson has done more than enough in his life to warrant respect and faith. Some football fans may even be willing to forgive Baywatch (to an extent) if it means placing their trust in Johnson to deliver on the XFL.
But much like Baywatch, some things are destined to fail. And in the case of the XFL 3.0, there’s not enough happening to raise any sort of legitimate optimism about the league’s future.
At this point, we still have no idea what the new-look XFL will look like or who will make up the teams. For a league that is now two years away, that may not sound like a problem. But we didn’t know the answers when the league intended to play in 2022, either.
If the XFL is already pushing back to 2023, one must wonder how realistic the league’s time frame is. Why not try playing in the fall of 2022? Remember, Johnson bought the XFL in October 2020 and immediately made it clear they planned to play in 2022. Who says the league needs to play in the spring?
But can the league survive without the CFL, and should Johnson have been so bold about time frames? These are questions that need to be answered in the coming months. If Johnson’s plan is to field an eight-team spring league with undrafted college players and players whose lone NFL experience comes from practice squads and training camps, we advise him to look back at the AAF and the XFL 2.0, and how well those leagues were doing financially and ratings-wise when they shut down.
The USFL is another league that could fail
If Johnson wants positive news, he should check his bank account. Oh, and he can feel better knowing the XFL isn’t the only potential secondary league destined to fail.
Now, we say this with all due respect to the USFL 2.0, a league that likely will not have Steve Young or Donald Trump involved this time. But the modern USFL is expected to launch play in the spring of 2022 and possibly follow the same strategies that doomed the AAF. (And, if not for the pandemic, the logic which may also have doomed the XFL 2.0).
Enough with the spring leagues, and enough with filling rosters with Division II All-Americans and Johnny Manziel. People watch on Opening Night, maybe again in the second week, and then quit because there aren’t enough marquee names to warrant their interest.
If these leagues want to work, they need to consider playing in the summer or fall and add as many proven, experienced NFL players as possible. Imagine a Wednesday night matchup in mid-October 2022 with Josh Gordon and Larry Fitzgerald — supreme talents who might not be playing at that time for far different reasons — trading touchdowns in the XFL or USFL. Let Todd Gurley suit up and try convincing an NFL team that he can be a starting running back again.
This all sounds cynical, but the numbers and history are against the current secondary league strategies. If Johnson doesn’t see the light and attempt doing something different, then it’s time to let someone else handle the XFL and fail trying.