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XFL Co-Owner Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Respects CFL Argos Owner Larry Tanenbaum

Finally, after the CFL offseason passed, it’s three-down vs. four-down chatter. The CBA is signed, and the season is underway. All seemed well in the Canadian Football League. 

Before the season started, MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum talked with the Globe & Mail about various topics, including the CFL. Tanenbaum was rumored to be high on the XFL/CFL partnership/merger talks. 

MLSE owns the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. They also own the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), the Toronto Raptors (NBA), the Toronto Marlies (AHL), and Toronto FC (MLS). All those franchises have gone up in value since MLSE has purchased them. The Argonauts have not.

When asked about the current CFL business model and prospects, he said.

“The community-owned teams seem to be satisfied with what’s happening in the CFL, so we’re working to see how the Argos fit into that scenario. I’m not happy with it. I’m not happy with the structure of the league. 

My concern is, in the major cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, it’s not attracted the younger fan engagement. You look at value creation and, you know, quite, unfortunately, these teams are not worth that much money. 

The hockey, basketball, or soccer teams are trading at hundreds of millions of dollars, in some cases billions of dollars. And you see the Argos, you know, a 106-year-old league, and what value creation are these franchises trading at? You’ve got to look at that and say, Is that success?”

There had been rumors that the Argonauts could join the XFL or MLSE would sell the team and start a new one with the XFL. XFL Chairwoman and Co-Owner Dany Garcia has repeatedly mentioned that the 3.0 era is looking to go global.

The XFL and CFL formally announced their talks were underway in March of 2021. The talks were held under tight wraps with NDA’s. 

XFL News Hub heard about the talks in February. Later we learned that talks began months earlier, in October. These two sides talked about everything under the sun. Larry Tanenbaum was very much interested in shaking things up with the XFL. There was mutual respect from both the MLSE and the XFL sides with Garcia, The Rock, and RedBird Capital.

TSN Insider Dave Naylor was asked about Tanenbaum’s comments on a recent radio appearance. CFL News paraphrased his remarks.

@TSNDaveNaylor says Larry Tanenbaum’s comments were aimed more at differing opinions about “XFL option,” & joining forces with @TheRock, & 4 downs, N. American football. Tanenbaum sees it one way, the league went in another direction. #CFL #Argos via @FirstUp1050

To the fan’s surprise, The Rock was paying attention and chimed in.

“Love the grammar citations, which I have received many over the years Larry was a great partner & advocate who I found to be a gutsy visionary who saw an amazing opportunity to grow the game of football that we all love – in a very exciting & electrifying way for the FANS.”

What does this all mean? Probably nothing more than admiration in working with Tanenbaum from Dwayne Johnson. But, if you haven’t figured it out by now, nothing put in the press, or social media doesn’t have some thought or strategy behind it. 

This is something to keep an eye on in the months ahead.

Mark is the founder and editor of XFL News Hub. The site was started in January of 2018, within days of the announced return of the XFL. Contact him directly by emailing mark.perry@xflnewshub.com

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