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The Rock Comments On The XFL’s Decision To Pass On New York

In a candid moment with a heartbroken fan, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson took to social media to explain why the New York Guardians weren’t returning for the XFL reboot in 2023.

Changing Of The XFL Guardian

Unless you have been living under a Dwayne Johnson, it’s been public knowledge since early this year that the latest iteration of the XFL would not have the New York Guardians returning. Three XFL cities from 2020 are gone, New York, Tampa, and Los Angeles, and in their place are Orlando, Vegas, and San Antonio.

Despite the report here at XFLNewsHub. Many XFL 2020 devotees were in denial or dismissive of the idea that New York, in particular, wouldn’t return to the league. However, Guardians’ loyalists got hit with reality when the XFL officially announced their cities on July 24th, 2022. New York was now hundred percent confirmed as out by the XFL.

Three months later, on Halloween, after much delay, debate, and an accidental website leak by the league. The XFL officially released the team names and logos for their eight cities. The now Arlington Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, St. Louis Batttlehawks, DC Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, Vegas Vipers, San Antonio Brahmas, and the Guardians of Orlando.

Gotham’s Gargoyle has gone Neon and, like most lifelong New Yorkers, has retired in Florida.

Goodbye, New York Guardians

The New York Guardians, in 2020, had a contending team, a passionate fan base and drew good ratings in the country’s biggest TV market.

On FOX, New York’s game with Tampa on February 9th, 2020, was the high-water mark for XFL viewership two years ago. It wasn’t the league’s opening game on ABC, which typically produces the highest sample audience for these types of entities.

The Sunday afternoon 2/9 Guardians-Vipers game averaged a 2.1 rating and 3.39 million viewers—the largest audience for a non-NFL pro football game since Week 6 of the original XFL in 2001 (3.67 million).

However, ratings aside, the Guardians’ attendance figures were modest at best. In only two home games, New York averaged 14,875 fans per game. Second to last in the XFL in 2020, only ahead of LA (13,124).

A 14k average is a decent number for a brand-new team in an upstart league with largely unknown players. Especially considering the drawback of bitter cold Northeast weather in February. But the ginormous confines of MetLife Stadium, which seats over 82,000 fans, made Guardians games an eyesore for the XFL. It provided a poor visual representation to the mainstream sports audience who sampled the league.

There was no doubt that the XFL had made the incorrect choice of playing at MetLife. An overriding decision that came from then-XFL owner Vince McMahon.

Some naysayers staunchly believed it was foolhardy to lure tri-state area football fans to embrace a non-NFL product. The lack of attendance helped fuel their beliefs.

Notwithstanding all that, there was hope that the New York Guardians would find a new playing home in future seasons. But the task of accomplishing that was easier said than done. And the economics of fielding the biggest of big city teams was certainly a deterrent for the league’s new ownership group headed by Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Capital Partners, Dany Garcia, and Dwayne Johnson.

In an exchange on Twitter with New York Guardians fan Eric Francisco, The Rock revealed the reasoning behind the XFL not taking up shop in New York in 2023. Dwayne Johnson cited economics and stadium issues as why New York wasn’t chosen for the reboot. But he promised that the XFL would revisit New York down the road.

The door might be open for XFL expansion into NY in the future. But it has closed on the New York Guardians forever, with Orlando adopting the brand as its own.

Centuries carved of stone. Watchdogs over the metropolis. A prehistoric predator. A beast evolves, turned loose in a new kind of jungle. All teeth and talons, eyes unblinking. They know fear because they feed off it. They were the first line of defense, and there was no need for a second.

Goodbye, New York Guardians. You are officially off duty.

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years. I started covering the XFL back in 2001. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell



  1. Rob

    November 4, 2022 at 7:28 am

    I could deal with NY not coming back due to the logistics,, but stealing the brand for another city where it doesn’t even make sense is a bridge too far. He can apologize all he wants, but it rings hollow. They ruined a good brand and should’ve named Orlando something else

  2. Smackdown!

    November 4, 2022 at 10:13 am

    They should have brought the Rage back or even the Apollos for Orlando.
    Also, did you people forget about the USFL’s NEW JERSEY GENERALS!?! Competing with the Jets and Giants is nightmare enough. But when you throw in the Generals, you ain’t going to succeed.

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