Internet magazine ScreenRant recently released articles about how much Dwayne Johnson still makes being an actor. This type of influence, mixed with his football history, bodes extremely well for the XFL.
This type of exposure for the league would not have happened if not for The Rock’s influence in Hollywood circles. This will also lead to a larger viewership, many say. Because of his larger-than-life status, many of Johnson’s fans will want to tune in to the new-look XFL, just because of his involvement.
Fans and players know his story, former Miami Hurricane, who’s career was cut short due to injuries, players and coaches alike feel that connection. And when the person that is running the ship can understand what it takes to play football at a high level, it pays dividends on the field.
But this wasn’t the path he had dreamed of as a young man in south Florida. Before he was known as “The Rock”, Johnson played college football at The University of Miami, and played well before injuries started affecting his time on the field. When he left the U to seek a professional route, the NFL largely lacked interest.
He tried for a stint in the CFL, but that was short-lived, and, so, like his father, he turned to professional wrestling. What happened after that was truly a fairytale. He caught on in the Hollywood circles, and now his brand has led to deep-rooted connections with most major studios.
His relationship, now a business one, with Dany Garcia of Garcia Companies, and RedBird Capital set a foundation for this league to have success right out of the gate. And the fact that Johnson is still highly influential in Hollywood doesn’t hurt at all.
In fact, many people from the entertainment industry have already expressed interest in the XFL. Rumors are flying about a reality show similar to HBO’s Hard Knocks, that would follow teams and coaches as they prepare for an upcoming spring season. But the plan right now is not to rush into something unprepared.
Imagine this, if you will; the way the Dwayne Johnson has been able to expand the Fast and Furious franchise far beyond where many think it should have been-with success I might add-and that he is able to pretty much get anything he pitches approved to go to production. This means that his influence in the circles who have the money to finance entertainment goes beyond anything anyone in sports has ever had.
This is not to leave Dany Garica out of the picture at all. Her power in the money industry is enormous. With her background in investments, being the associate VP at Merril-Lynch, and the successes she has had with managing Johnson’s career.
Owning her own production company, Seven Bucks Productions, that has put out movies like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Jumanji: The Next Level, the Hobbs and Shaw spinoff from Fast and the Furious, and many more. The combined interests of these two alone could keep investors emptying pocketbooks for years to come.
It’s something that has been lacking in the other incarnation of the league that McMahon tried to revitalize last year. While McMahon is known as a savvy businessman, his reach is limited. The contract with ESPN was contingent of his involvement, but that was basically because a subsidiary, Fox, had just agreed to broadcast WWE on their network.
Dwayne’s business strength is not only financial, but his influence in Hollywood with guys at HBO (his involvement with Ballers), and other production companies outside of his manager’s Seven Bucks Productions, seems to be without limits.
Now, I know what you’re saying, this could lead the XFL into something that takes away from the sport. But that doesn’t take into account the love Johnson has for the game.
He knows there was success last year, he knows the fans loved the product. And with his background, and influence, don’t expect the league to turn into some Hollywood spectacle. This will be about the onfield product first. Promotion using his influence and money will be outside of football operations.
His reach, both financially and in influence, can pay huge dividends to the type of product we get on the field. He’s known in all the right places. One of which is again, in broadcasting. A big hold up in revenue was the TV deals that the league had in its first year. The plan was to build that into something lucrative for the league.
Those plans can now be bigger, and more fruitful at a higher pace. And there’s already interest in the XFL from networks. Fox Sports has reportedly contacted the new owners about a broadcasting agreement for the 2021 season.
The XFL already had ground-breaking technology, and the ability to take the fan experience right onto the field. But being a fledgling league still meant there were gaps. The Rock and Co can fill those gaps.
McMahon had some influence, but on a lower scale than Johnson. The negative reactions and feelings Vince often had around him are not there for Dwayne.
Recently, Garcia and Rock purchased a tequila company, and it seems to be thriving. I would expect nothing short of that type of focus, if not more, on creating a fan-friendly, lasting experience in the XFL.
Garcia and Johnson are not going into this deal with dollar signs in their eyes. Sure, the idea is to make money, but what they have seen from the shortened 2020 season will make their focus stay on the football.
President Jeffery Pollack had this to say when the new broke about the pruchase:
“I could not imagine a better outcome for the XFL. Dany, Dwayne and Gerry (Cardinale) are the best possible ownership group for the exciting journey ahead. Their collective track-record of success in entertainment, sports and media is stellar, and I think our fans, players, coaches, and partners are in for something special.”
The league couldn’t have asked for a better result from the sale. People in the entertainment industry with almost unlimited reach, and a whole lotta money to put into making the XFL last, and Dwayne Johnson. A man with known love for the game, who knows what the fans loved about the 2020 season, and wants to build on that success.
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