With only one qualified buyer seeking to buy XFL assets out of bankruptcy, ownership of the innovative spring football league goes to Gerry Cardinale, actor Dwayne Johnson and his former wife, producer Dany Garcia.
The investment group paid $15 million for the XFL assets. The football league relaunched last spring under the ownership of wrestling titan Vince McMahon, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States McMahon shut down the league and filed for bankruptcy. That was the second incarnation of the XFL; we will see what Garcia, Johnson and Cardinale have in mind for XFL 3.0.
Even though the XFL went into bankruptcy, a core operation was maintained, led by president and chief operating officer Jeffrey Pollack. A goal of the XFL was to reimagine football, and the game played in the XFL was certainly unlike the NFL or college football: kickoffs ensured returns while being designed to be safer; game broadcasts were freewheeling and gave unprecedented real-time access to players and coaches; and gambling was openly embraced.
One aspect of the XFL, and one that Garcia points to in press coverage, is that the league was a much more diverse endeavor than the NFL or many college programs, per ESPN:
Garcia said that diversity and inclusion will be “a relevant and accountable conversation” throughout the league. In truth, she noted, the XFL was on its way to building a strong record in this space. Two of its eight team presidents were women, and each officiating crew included at least one woman. Three of its eight head coaches were Black.
“Our expectation is that we will just continue that and continue that with intent,” Garcia said. “We will have the best people in the best positions, and it will be diverse and inclusive and that’s how it should be.”
In the short term, it’s not been announced the league would proceed with a potential 2021 relaunch: a bubble tournament is not out of the questions. In the broader picture, we are at a time when the football landscape shows signs of changing dramatically, with many players seeking more out of their college careers than just a four-year free ride, and other opting out of college football to prepare for a pro career. Can a spring league serve as a transition between college and the NFL?
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