Directed by Peter Berg, the ESPN+ Original series chronicles the building of the XFL and follows the unique stories of players and coaches throughout the inaugural season
Series to debut on Thursday, February 16 at 5pm ET on ESPN2; will also air on ABC on Saturday, February 18 at 2pm ET
ARLINGTON, TX,– February 15, 2023 – The XFL today announced the debut of its original, nine-part docuseries, Player 54: Chasing the XFL Dream, in partnership with its exclusive broadcast partner, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN. Directed by Peter Berg, the series follows the creation of the League under new ownership and highlights the unique stories and development of its players and coaches throughout the entire season.
Player 54 will have its linear debut on Thursday, February 16 at 5pm ET on ESPN2. It will also air on ABC on Saturday, February 18 at 2pm ET leading into the XFL’s opening game between the Vegas Vipers and Arlington Renegades. Episodes will be available to stream exclusively on ESPN+ immediately after each debuts on ESPN2.
With eight teams, 400 players, 40 coaches, and a new ownership group, Player 54 is a visual manifestation of the League’s motto: where dreams meet opportunity. The original series takes fans behind the scenes of what it takes to build a League and its eight teams from the ground-up, showcasing the human stories that exist within the XFL on and off the field. It is a character-driven look at the inspiring, unconventional, and even heartbreaking journeys of the players and head coaches whose professional aspirations are just beginning – or getting a second chance.
“The opportunity to use our partnership with Disney and ESPN to showcase these dynamic stories and demonstrate the XFL’s potential is a pivotal aspect of our mission,” said Dany Garcia, Chairwoman and Owner. “Player 54 is the culmination of many of the things that make the XFL special, but, most importantly, it focuses on our players and coaches – the soul and heartbeat of our League. Since the beginning, we’ve been committed to elevating these players, providing them with a platform to share their stories, cultivate their individual brands, and establish themselves as professional athletes. This docuseries is a powerful tool in telling these athletes narratives, connecting with our fans, and building a ‘League of Tomorrow’.”
“Player 54 is a deeply personal reality for me,” said Dwayne Johnson, Owner. “There are 53 players on an NFL roster – I was number 54. I was good, but not good enough. I was ready, I was hungry, and I waited for that NFL phone call that never came. I never got that shot to prove myself. And that seminal moment in my life put a chip on my shoulder that has never and will never go away. Years later, life has brought me to the XFL today, and I’m grateful to share my experience with our players – all of whom have that same chip on their shoulders. I hope everyone enjoys watching our XFL process as much I’ve enjoyed this ‘life comes full circle’ ride.”
Filming takes place primarily at the XFL Hub in Arlington, capturing unprecedented access into the day-to-day lives of the players and coaches – from the Draft and roster cuts to season kickoff and the Championship – immersing viewers in the competitive environment as players prove that they deserve a chance to win with the XFL.
“The passion and determination from Dany and DJ are utterly infectious,” said Peter Berg, Filmmaker. “They are playing to win, and I am honored to be a part of this stellar team. The love of the game is real!”
“The Player 54 docuseries greatly complements our robust slate of live games,” said Tim Reed, ESPN Vice President, Programming & Acquisitions. “The powerful storytelling will help fans better understand the motivation and inspiration of the XFL players they’ll watch throughout the season. We’re thrilled to provide another dynamic offering to football fans on our platforms, providing unprecedented access on the field and behind-the-scenes stories.”
Up-to-date league, team, and player information is now available on Twitter from the XFL communications department at @XFL_PR.
The XFL’s ownership group, led by Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, and Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners, is building a fan-first, fast-paced global professional football league with innovative rules and enhanced 360 game experience. The XFL will bring entertainment to world class football, with the goal of advancing the game of football and expanding player opportunities when it launches in February 2023.
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