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The XFL’s New Executive Leadership Team Gearing Up For 2023 Return

The XFL has officially announced the hiring of former NFL and XFL executives for their 2023 return to the field.

Several of the hires have been chronicled here at XFLNewsHub in the last year. The most significant hire is former Buffalo Bills CEO Russ Brandon as league president, as reported here when former league CEO Jeffrey Pollack departed. Russ Brandon was one of the XFL’s top candidates to assume a similar role that Pollack had with the league since 2019.

Jay Rothman is also a hire that XFL officially announced on Monday morning. XFL News Hub covered this story months ago. For many years at ESPN, Rothman has been one of the top broadcasting executives in the industry. Rothman will be the XFL’s Senior VP of Broadcast Operations. Jay Rothman figures to play a pivotal role in how the league is presented and in its broadcasting strategy, which could very likely include a streaming and documentary component.

The XFL’s new executive team will have a mini-reunion from executives who already worked for the league in 2019/2020 and a Buffalo Bills reunion of sorts, where three of the execs have spent time in upstate New York. In Brandon, new VP of Football Ops Marc Ross and the returning Doug Whaley as Senior VP of Player Personnel.

Ross and Whaley will be key figures in putting together the football aspects of the XFL. From the team’s coaching staffs to the players. All of the XFL’s teams will be restocking their rosters. But before any of that can happen. A whole new scouting process will come into play, and along with it, potentially new coaches and front offices than the ones that existed in 2020.

Doug Whaley’s return could lead to more XFL 2020 reunions. Both on the coaching and team executive side.

But one of the key missing figures from the current XFL group is Sam Schwartzstein. The former top league executive helped create the innovative rules of the XFL back in 2020. Many of which are being implemented in college football and the NFL now. It remains to be seen what route the current leadership group will take in adopting the XFL rules and innovations from 2020. Schwartzstein and his team helped develop the XFL football that the league’s new owners have taken pictures with on social media.

Sportico.com recently interviewed XFL Owners Gerry Cardinale and Dany Garcia. You can find that interview here.

The XFL is expected to make huge announcements in the coming months, particularly in 2022, as the entire year will be used as a rampway towards getting back on the field in 2023. Expect Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to play a significant role in the league’s marketing and promotion. With the genuine possibility that the league’s new ownership group will have their journey chronicled on film until kickoff in presumably the Spring of 2023.

Here’s the full press release and list released by the XFL of their new executive team on Monday morning.

New York – November 8, 2021 – The XFL and its ownership group, consisting of Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, and RedBird Capital Partners, are excited to announce the addition of nine executive hires as the league prepares for its highly anticipated return to the field in 2023. Joining and returning to the league are:

  • Russ Brandon, President, League and Football Operations
  • Rob Gerbe, Chief Financial Officer
  • Jordan Schlachter, Chief Business Officer
  • Janet Duch, Chief Marketing and Content Officer
  • Marc Ross, Executive Vice President, Football Operations
  • Doug Whaley, Senior Vice President, Player Personnel
  • Scott Harniman, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Technology
  • Jay Rothman, Senior Vice President, Broadcast Operations
  • Cindy Wagner, Senior Vice President, People Operations

“These exceptional and talented executives encompass a deep skillset that aligns with our commitment to delivering an exceptional football universe experience, as well as our shared passion for bringing the XFL back stronger than before,” said Dany Garcia, XFL Chairwoman and Co-Owner. “Our team’s experience across varying professional sports leagues and brands will enable us to deliver an experience for our fans, athletes, and partners that represents today’s evolution of ‘best-in-class. A tremendous amount of work has already been done with more exciting news to come as we prepare for 2023.”

You can find brief bios of the executives below:

Russ Brandon is a longtime NFL veteran, holding various positions within the Bills organization for over 20 years. Before joining the XFL, Russ worked as an executive advisor to RedBird Capital Partners for its investment in the XFL. Before that, Russ was most recently Managing Partner and President of the Buffalo Bills, President and Alternate Governor on the Sabres, and COO of Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE), managing all aspects of the day-to-day business administrative operations of the three entities. Russ will manage the league’s day-to-day operations in his new role as president while directing strategic planning for business and football operations on both the league and team levels.

Rob Gerbe joins the XFL as Chief Financial Officer, where he will oversee the financial operations of the league and its teams to provide strategic financial insights on all facets of the business. Rob will lead all financial and accounting matters, including reporting, planning, and forecasting, to drive analytical decision making, support revenue growth, cost management, and profitability metrics. Rob joined the XFL most recently from the NBA, where he served as Senior Vice President, Team & Labor Finance. Rob will report to Russ Brandon.

Jordan Schlachter is returning to the XFL as Chief Business Officer, overseeing business partnerships, sponsorship revenue, relationships, licensing, merchandising distribution, and media partner business and sales.  Schlachter joined the XFL in April 2019, where he served as the Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer. In this role, he managed nearly all revenue sources (non-ticketing), marketing functions, and communications for the league and its eight teams. He negotiated the league’s most significant partnerships, including Bud Light Seltzer and Progressive Insurance, creating the first-ever football helmet sticker sponsor program.  Jordan will report to Russ Brandon.

Janet Duch returns to the XFL as the league’s Chief Marketing and Content Officer, leading marketing, digital, and business intelligence functions.  She is responsible for developing campaigns, content, and experiences across all platforms and the data insights used to enhance fan engagement and maximize opportunities for business growth. Additionally, Duch oversees the XFL’s ticketing strategy and gameday operations across each team market while also building out the league’s team services function. Janet joined the XFL in 2019 as the President of the New York Guardians while also overseeing performance marketing for the league and its 8 teams. Janet will report to Russ Brandon.

Marc Ross joins the XFL as Executive Vice President of Football Operation. Hee is responsible for all aspects of football operations, including rules and gameplay, logistics and league planning, innovation, data, and analytics. Marc has over 20 years of professional football experience working across league and team levels within the NFL. He is also a current analyst on NFL Network. Marc will report to Russ Brandon.

Doug Whaley returns to the XFL as Senior Vice President of Player Personnel, where he will oversee player scouting, recruiting, compensation, growth, and career development. Doug first joined the XFL in 2018 as Senior Vice President of Football Operations, where he assisted in all aspects of creating the eight-team spring football league and rules innovation.  Doug brings over 20 years of NFL player personnel and football executive experience. Doug will report to Marc Ross.

Scott Harniman returns to the XFL as Senior Vice President, Enterprise Technology. He is responsible for all functions of Information Technology, overseeing the XFL’s technology strategy, infrastructure buildout, and delivering best-in-class systems to support the entire league. In addition, Scott will shape the football technology program by promoting innovation across emerging platforms. Scott will report to Russ Brandon.

Jay Rothman joins the XFL as Senior Vice President, Broadcast Operations, where he will oversee all broadcast operations with our partners, administration, and game productions including, original programming, studio production, and event coverage. He brings over 30 years of live event and studio production experience to the league, most recently working at ESPN as Vice President of Production. Jay will report to Russ Brandon.

Cindy Wagner returns to the XFL as Senior Vice President, People Operations. She is responsible for establishing Human Resources and administrative functions while also providing strategic leadership to develop a world-class organization that promotes a culture of inclusivity, growth, and innovation. She first joined the league in 2019 as Senior Director of People and Culture; Cindy will report to Russ Brandon.

I am a credentialed reporter and writer. Over time, I have covered and followed the NFL, NCAA, and multiple football leagues intensely. Like the USFL, CFL, WLAF, NFL Europe, AAF, UFL, and of course, the XFL. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Dude

    November 9, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    This is the “boring” important stuff that can break a league if they’re not good hires. I don’t know much about Brandon but it sounds like a solid bunch. RedBird will likely be the real overlords of this though. I think a fan friendly and pro like Oliver Luck helped the XFL with the fans and media. Hopefully they find that same type of commissioner that promotes the league and appeals to the working class fan.

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