Updated: The Rock Bidding On the XFL

In a surprise move, Duane “The Rock” Johnson is bidding on the XFL According to sports site Sportico:

The XFL has been sold to a group that includes former WWE star Dwayne “The Rock’’ Johnson, giving the bankrupt football league the kind of star power that may draw even non-sports fans.

Johnson, an actor and producer who played college football at the University of Miami, teamed up with Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital to buy the league just hours before a planned auction was scheduled to begin.

They paid $15 million, splitting it evenly. Johnson’s business partner, Dany Garcia, who is also his ex-wife, will be a stakeholder as well.

Who would have thought that nearly 20 years later, the Rock would buy a major part of the XFL?

This is huge news for fans of the defunct football league, which returned this year only to fold following the onset of the coronapocalypse. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Chavez highlighted the league’s failure:

The XFL shut down its operations during its inaugural season on April 10 and laid off its entire staff. The league cited the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic as its main reason and then filed for bankruptcy three days later.

In May, Vince McMahon said that he had no plans to attempt to buy back the league. He first announced its return in 2018 and reportedly spent more than $200 million on it.

The 2020 XFL season only made it through five of its 10 scheduled weeks. It averaged about 1.9 million viewers on FOX per game,

It is important to remember that this is only a qualified bid. As Sportico made clear in their exclusive report on the prospective sale:

According to a court filing, this was the only qualified bid. The transaction is subject to bankruptcy court approval at a hearing this Friday, August 7 and, assuming that closing conditions are satisfied, is expected to close on or shortly after August 21.

Although the second incarnation of the XFL had seen a decline in viewership numbers, it seemed to be doing much better than the original version which crashed and burned in its debut season, becoming a financial failure for Vince McMahon and NBC Sports. Whether or not the second version of the XFL might have worked had it been able to continue running live events will likely become the source of speculation when people write about its failure.

The original XFL became the subject of several articles analyzing its failure as well as the book Long Bomb which reviewed its rise and fall.

The Rock discussed his prospective purchase of the football league, with TMZ Sports reporting:

“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 – 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.”

ESPN’s This Was the XFL imagined the first league’s failure. Will there be a sequel? If so, will there be a sequel to the sequel?

Do you think the Rock will be able to apply his golden touch to the snake-bitten football league or will this be yet another financial flop for football leagues that aren’t the NFL?

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About the author

Mike Rickard II

Retired bank robber and author of "Wrestling's Greatest Moments", "Laughing All the Way to the Bank Robbery, "Flunky: Pawns and Kings," and "Don't Call Me Bush Beans: The Legend of a Three-Legged Cat." Pro wrestling and hockey fan. Hired gun for several pro wrestling sites and a top 10 YouTube wrestling channel. Available in regular and extra-strength.

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