For those dying for an alternative to the NFL, I regret to inform you that it’s gonna be a minute until you get your long overdue fix.
On Thursday, the XFL’s newly minted co-owner, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, revealed exactly when we can all expect his embattled league to return to the field.
“XFL returns SPRING 2022,” he tweeted. “It’s an uphill battle—but we’re hungry, humble and no one will outwork us. A league of culture, passion & purpose.”
The original incarnation of the XFL made its promising debut—and unceremonious exit—in 2001. It foolishly branded itself as a direct competitor to the NFL and was much less about football and more so an extension of Vince McMahon’s unique brand of sports entertainment. Players went by undeserved monickers instead of using their actual names, there was an emphasis on bigger hits and nearly non-existent rules and the end product on the field was as outrageous as it was disastrous.
Ironically enough, it also featured promos from some of the biggest names in the WWE—like Johnson’s alter ego, The Rock.
The XFL would resurrect from the dead in 2018 with a renewed focus on actually delivering a quality product and pitched itself as a much-needed farm system for NFL hopefuls and rejects. But sadly, by the time the league kicked off its comeback season in 2020, the coronavirus had other plans.
As we previously reported in The Root, the global pandemic forced the XFL to suspend operations, lay off damn near everybody, and eventually bankruptcy. But right before the league was set to go to auction in August, Johnson, his ex-wife and business partner, Dany Garcia, and investment firm RedBird Capital Partners swooped in and bought the XFL for a cool $15 million.
“With gratitude & passion I’ve built a career with my own two hands and will apply these callouses to our @xfl2020 brand,” Johnson tweeted in August to celebrate the acquisition. “Excited to create something special for the fans!”
After two failed attempts at making the XFL a success story, Johnson has plenty of work ahead of him. But if it demonstrates the same promise and similar innovations that it did before COVID-19 derailed everything, in addition to better players, the XFL might finally get it right.