During the turn of the millennium, Vince McMahon of the then-WWF (now WWE) forged a partnership with NBC to develop a professional football league where all component teams were owned under its single entity. Following a late October 2000 draft, this league, known only as the XFL, would launch on February the following year. Despite epic viewer ratings in the start, interest dwindled and XFL would close after its inaugural season. McMahon would try to revive the league; work restarted in 2018 for a 2020 re-launch. Then COVID-19 scuttled those plans, forcing the would-have-been new XFL to declare bankruptcy after only several games. But it is not entirely ruined yet.
According to Comic Book Resources, none other than Hollywood star Dwayne Johnson – aka WWE superstar The Rock – has purchased the bankrupt second iteration of the ill-fated American football league XFL from twice-frustrated founder Vince McMahon. Johnson partnered with his ex-wife Dany Garcia of The Garcia Company (TGC) and Redbird Capital of Gerry Cardinale to buy XFL for $15 million. This occurred just as the league was to be auctioned off to a potential new ownership.
XFL’s parent company Alpha Entertainment issued a statement on the sale, which must still be approved by the US bankruptcy court at a hearing scheduled for Friday, August 7. If successful, then the transaction with Johnson and his associates could be finalized before August 21. Johnson also had something to say about his purchase of the XFL, which he reasoned to have done out of love for the game (having played college football for Miami) and a promise to take care of the sport’s fans. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football,” declares The Rock.
Vince McMahon’s idea for the XFL in both versions was that this pro league would play in the spring (where the NFL regular season starts September). XFL rules as distinct from the mainstream NFL also espoused a more aggressive form of football play, while TV broadcasts utilized later NFL-adopted tech such as aerial sky-cam and microphones on player helmets. Unfortunately the forced pro-wrestling elements in the original XFL led to gradual disinterest in the otherwise legit unscripted games. The second XFL was more NFL in presentation (different rules aside) but had the misfortune of starting when the COVID pandemic erupted.
The second XFL only managed five weeks of games before calling off the season in March 12, with operations being suspended the following month, April 10, followed by bankruptcy declaration days later, on April 13.
Image courtesy of NY Times