Boss moves: The Rock copping the XFL could breathe new life into sports
Dwayne, “The Rock,” Johnson might have a grand trick up his sleeve.
According to a news release on Monday, the former WWE star and his group have agreed to purchase the XFL for $15 million.
With my trail blazing partner @DanyGarciaCo & Red Bird Capital, we have acquired the XFL.
With gratitude & passion I’ve built a career with my own two hands and will apply these callouses to our @xfl2020 brand.
Excited to create something special for the fans! #XFL #fullcircle pic.twitter.com/LprJ6HjglD
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) August 3, 2020
“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things,” Johnson said in a statement. “My passion for the game, and my desire to always take care of the 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.”
With all of the current safety concerns, Johnson and his group are still hopefully planning for play next season.
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I’ll start this post with a heartfelt & excited, THANK YOU for the incredible responses I’ve been seeing from you all day. With my trail blazing partner @DanyGarciaCo & RedBird Capital’s Gerry Cardinale – we have acquired the XFL. With gratitude & passion I’ve built a career with my own two hands and will apply these callouses to building our @xfl brand to create something special for the fans. My dreams of playing professional football never came true, however – this passion venture allows me to create opportunities for other players to showcase their talents, take care of their families and make their own dreams come true. Now, my partners and I go to work – for the love of football. #XFL #Owner #FullCircle
“We’re doing all the steps that need to happen for the execution of that,” Dany Garcia, the first female owner of a major American sports league, told ESPN.
“But we’re also being mindful of what has actually been successful. It has been really interesting to see that when you create a bubble, your players are safe. When you don’t, it’s chaos. We are a league, because of the number of teams we have, that actually can create a bubble environment. Those discussions are active.”
The XFL’s short run is considered by many to be a failure. The league filed for bankruptcy in April of 2020, after previously having a short-lived run in 2001. While the schedule was halted because of the pandemic, it announced that all operations had been suspended during the April staff meeting.
XFL statement pic.twitter.com/JaKq3iNKrr
— XFL (@XFL2023) March 15, 2020
Owner Vince McMahon had invested $200 million into the league’s restart, hoping to generate a return on his cash. The eight-team league, however, couldn’t even make it past the halfway point.
XFL has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy listing both assets and liabilities in the range of $10-50 million.
There is a breakdown of ownership with WWE listed in control of 23.5% of Class B shares with the rest held by Vince McMahon.
Attached are the top eight creditors. pic.twitter.com/BNsgV1NEKt
— John Pollock (@iamjohnpollock) April 13, 2020
Fortunately for the league, Johnson has more than enough social and business capital to jump-start the league for a third time. Operating under an estimated net worth of $320 million, Johnson’s films alone have grossed more than $10.5 billion worldwide.
Johnson played football collegiately for the University of Miami, winning a National Championship in 1991. After going undrafted in the 1995 NFL Draft, he turned to the world of professional wrestling.
Going by the ring name “The Rock,’ Johnson won 8 WWE Championships and garnered countless other league and press awards. His film career started in 2001 with The Mummy Returns and has since seen him take the Fast and Furious franchise, Disney’s Moana, the rebooted Jumanji series, and countless others.
— 90s WWE (@90sWWE) July 31, 2020
Without a doubt, Dwayne Johnson is one of the world’s largest international stars. To breathe new life into a twice-deceased league such as the XFL, a leader of substantial social capital is required.
To gain a strong following for the new league, Johnson has several options that he can take. First and foremost, it might be wise to introduce the league into cities without major sports teams. Portland is a prime example, and other cities with lost NFL teams such as Oakland and San Diego might be in play as well.
Along with this, Johnson could explore the option of offering salaries to college athletes seeking pay. This would take a page out of the NBA’s book with the G-League, but it would be the first alternative medium between the NCAA and pros.
Remember when The Rock cut a promo before a game in the original XFL? Now he’s a part-owner of the rebooted league. pic.twitter.com/0EajcG4vtS
— SI Wrestling (@SI_wrestling) August 3, 2020
Regardless of what direction Johnson elects to take, even if he chooses not to make any major innovations, his presence alone will assuredly make a difference. As his popularity continues to grow across the world, his side-endeavors such as the XFL will most definitely benefit from the much-needed buzz.
We look forward to seeing how the future of the XFL will shape up. One thing is for certain, though: they now have breathing super start at their helm.