With a new lease of life, XFL 3.0 is born, but what will take for it to last this time.
The XFL will never die. Or at least it appears that way. Not even a pandemic could kill it. Thanks to the league’s new owners, Dany Garcia, Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Capital, and some guy named Dwayne Johnson, the XFL is living to see another game.
Undoubtedly, this is the XFL’s last chance. The new owners are taking a significant risk. The odds and history are against them. The graveyards are filled with the tombstones of failed football leagues from the past. The XFL was one of them…. twice….. kind of.
Credit to the XFL’s new owners for believing in the concept, so much so that they are willing to take a chance during what is the most challenging time to operate a sports league. Right in the middle of a pandemic. The Rock has done some heroic things in the ring and on-screen, but nothing quite matches this.
So what will it take for the league to make it this time? Besides deep pockets and some luck. No, not Oliver. Not this time anyway.
Here are the keys to making XFL 3.0 a success.
RECAPTURING THE MAGIC OF XFL 2020
I thought the XFL did a wonderful job of breaking the barrier between the athlete and fan and allowing you to have that real sense of ownership. They were beginning to tap into that intangible phase, the phase where magic can happen. – New XFL Owner Dany Garcia on what impressed her the most about the XFL. https://www.si.com/xfl/2020/08/05/xfl-dany-garcia-dwayne-johnson-interview
The ‘they’ that Dany Garcia is referring to is a crucial part of this quote. It’s still unknown when the next XFL season will commence but for the league to recapture the magic it had earlier this year. It will need to bring back the people that made the XFL work.
On game days, the XFL had a great thing going. It’s what it took to get there that gets overlooked. As football fans, we tend to focus on the games primarily. The players, teams, and coaches in the XFL worked hard to present a quality product on the field. The level of play improved with each passing week. The broadcasts were engaging and innovative. The XFL provided access to fans like no league before it.
The aspect that tends to be overlooked is the countless unsung heroes in XFL 2020 that worked tirelessly behind the scenes to build the league from scratch. There are too many people to name, but here are a few that XFL 3.0 should go to war with again.
XFL President/COO Jeffrey Pollack
Jeffrey Pollack came on board with the XFL late in the process. He was directly responsible for hiring all of the league’s presidents and handling the league’s business matters. The latter is something that quite frankly needed addressing, and Pollack stepped up to the challenge.
The XFL’s team presidents hired by Pollack like Kurt Hunzeker, Heather Karatz, Ryan Gustafson, and others proved to be worth their weight in gold. If these presidents are ready, willing, and able, they should all be back.
XFL DFO Sam Schwartzstein
Arguably, the best aspect of the entire XFL was their rules. Sam Schwartzstein worked diligently with a strong football operations department on the league’s innovations. From the league’s kickoff to player safety measures to even its football. So much time and effort went into optimizing the league’s product on the field, and it paid off.
XFL Director of Player Personnel Eric Galko
Undoubtedly, this was one of the most challenging and thankless jobs in the XFL. Eric Galko and his team did a great job compiling talent for the league’s eight teams. The process of connecting with agents and players and convincing them to try the XFL was no simple task. Galko’s expertise and knowledge of college and pro players is invaluable.
XFL SVP Communications and Media Relations Stephanie Rudnick
Business, football, and media. Which one of these is not like the other? The latter doesn’t seem as crucial, but it is. The XFL’s entire PR staff was top notch. Rudnick hired and managed each of the league’s PR teams. Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson are excellent in the field of media relations and communications. They know the importance of it in sports and entertainment. Rudnick was an asset to the XFL and could serve that role to perfection again.
In 2020, The XFL dropped the ball in this department. The league had partnerships with FanDuel and DraftKings, but the missing component was season-long fantasy football.
One of the keys to driving interest in your games from start to finish is fantasy football. A fully realized fantasy football element will also aid fans in getting to know all the players in your league. Having a league app that serves this feature is vital for building fan interest.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYERS
A storyline worthy of The Rock’s ‘Ballers’ show on HBO. If change doesn’t come in the form of college athletes unionizing or receiving compensation for their likeness. The XFL needs to step in and create that change.
Kenny Robinson was the start of college players turning pro and getting paid in the XFL before being drafted into the NFL. The XFL doesn’t need to start a full-scale raid of college football talent, but the league does need to explore it in more depth than it did last year. The XFL created that option for college players. It’s time to take it to the next level.
No start-up sports league had it as good as the XFL did with Disney and Fox. Both of those networks promoted the league properly and presented it in the best light.
The partnerships that the league had with their networks was a formidable one. Fox and ESPN/ABC, had the freedom to present elements that they always wanted to with their other sports properties but couldn’t. Like betting lines and unlimited access.
The XFL needs to find a broadcasting package that can equal what they had from an exposure standpoint but also one that will share the same type of chemistry that the league had with Fox and ESPN.
Early indications are that Fox is interested in partnering with the XFL again, but perhaps on different financial terms. Under the XFL’s new ownership group and based on their expertise. The league may expand its reach using multiple platforms like streaming services. The truth is that it may have to if ESPN is not on board this time.
Most fans of the XFL will point out other areas than the ones that I’ve addressed. Expansion and increasing player salaries are usually two popular sticking points. Somewhere in those discussions, the name of Colin Kaepernick comes up. Perhaps all three of those things will become a reality one day.
If the XFL is going to be successful this time around. They will need to continue to build upon what was already started. The good thing is that the league has a solid foundation to start back up with.
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August 18, 2020 at 7:08 pm
while I enjoyed the 2001 XFL and the brief half season of the 2020
XFL, both were somewhat gimmicky….especially the 2001 version. While
I enjoyed the rules of the 2020 XFL, I would much rather see the league
come back and go with a 1980’s or 1990’s NFL rule book. I think more
fans would enjoy seeing old school football being played once again vs.
a new take on the rules the XFL was offering.
August 19, 2020 at 10:50 pm
Thanks for taking the time to check out the site and article.
You are not alone in your stance on wanting to see a more old-school style of football.
As a fan of football for nearly four decades. There are aspects of eighties and nineties football that I miss. I think using technology to your advantage in 2020, as the XFL did with replay and the all player communication system was great. Simplifying the rules for the refs was also very old-school. Like the one foot in-bounds rule.
August 18, 2020 at 9:12 pm
I loved the new rules and hope that returns. I only have one concern about the refurbished league and the current social culture in football. If the league allows the players to kneel during the national anthem, they’ve lost me. I was a 2020 season ticket holder but won’t return to the stadium if disrespect for our country is permitted or encouraged. I’m fine with people expressing their beliefs but not on my dime when it is unpatriotic. Those players are paid to play football and can protest all they want when off duty. I hope the new XFL is listening?
August 19, 2020 at 10:14 pm
And the XFL don’t need gun lovers like you!
August 19, 2020 at 10:56 pm
I don’t like politics mixed up with the games in any fashion. I’m all for people standing up for good causes, but once the games start. It should be all about the players and the games.
Politics can be very ugly. It has a tendency to divide people. Sports are beautiful. It unites people from all backgrounds. I understand where you are coming from.
August 19, 2020 at 11:30 am
The relaunch must be thoughtful; no earlier than 2022. They must have at least $300 Million available 12 months prior to the first game to be fan and player credible. They need to relocate at least four teams and at least change the Dallas stadium to SMU. Ticket sales and marketing needs a complete revamp. XFL will get TV deals only after its new owners have finances in place. Good luck! It is going to be a steep hill to climb and XFL branding could have three lives but don’t count on it. Putting the Rock in the Broadcast booth for color would be a plus.
August 19, 2020 at 11:14 pm
Thank you for checking out the article and your detailed response.
The Business side is essential, and the figure you bring up is a reality. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to fund and operate a pro football league over the long haul. Many over the years have learned that the hard way.
The business model in year one is always a losing proposition. You are merely planting seeds for future growth. The XFL was in the early stages of those seeds growing over time. Unfortunately, the pandemic killed that growth.
The venue deals were incentive-driven and favorable to the league and their partners. Attendance would have gone up with improving weather and the playoff chase on the horizon. In some respects, the league will be starting over, but not completely. There is equity in the brand built up in the markets because of what the league did. However, there’s no question that certain aspects will be revisited and tweaked.
August 19, 2020 at 10:15 pm
How about staying away from places that have an NFL team? Especially L.A.!
August 19, 2020 at 11:02 pm
You are not alone in this thought process. A lot of people questioned the XFL’s decision to go with the top two TV markets in NY and LA. They were chosen because of that reason.
People who argue for non-NFL markets will point to St.Louis in the XFL. It’s a strong argument, but two of the three best drawing teams were in NFL markets. The Seattle Dragons and the Houston Roughnecks. I would love to see more non-NFL team sites a part of the mix in the future, but there’s always a reason that specific markets made it into the league.
August 22, 2020 at 2:45 pm
One of my favorite items that the 2020 XFL did was the viewer involvement the hearing of the replay conversation and the on the spot interviews were fun ….The replay was enjoyable for a fan like me bc I always want to know the reason a call stands/ ooverruled
September 5, 2020 at 7:17 pm
Liked the replay discussion. I didn’t care for the coach calls or player interviews. I don’t mind player interviews at half but I find most of that just fluff and distracting. Coaches should be coaching, not promoting or talking to the media during the game or plays. I want my team to win, not be pulled by TV people and producers trying to make a name for themselves asking worthless questions that don’t enhance the game.
Put helmet cam back in the game if you want on the field impact.
Have real coaches call the game if you want to educate like they do with the NCAA championship game.
Interview celebrities if you want to old school Monday Night Football the game.
Keep football, as football, not as a side show full of distractions.
August 21, 2020 at 7:59 am
It was an exciting and fun League while it lasted. Some really good ideas, loved the uniforms. It was fun… I worked closely with the team you mentioned (I created the still photo division for the league and the teams), and they were as great to work with as you described. Especially Stephanie Rudnick and the PR group. The XFL did a great job in hiring. Best of luck to the next incarnation.