At the moment, the official message from the XFL is that their 2022 season is on hold, pending the outcome of their ongoing conversations with the CFL.
But the writing is on the wall right in front of us. It’s right there for everyone to see. For some loyal and hopeful XFL supporters, the league’s current pause is a blind spot.
THE XF-ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
There’s a phenomenon that psychologists call “change blindness.” The definition of that is our visual system’s inability to detect alterations to something that is staring right at us.
What’s staring all of us in the face right now is the reality that the XFL will not be returning to the field in 2022. It’s the elephant in the room that everyone knows is there but doesn’t want to acknowledge.
The XFL is not returning to play until 2023.
The XFL pushing back their on-field return to 2023 is not official from the league yet, but it’s a logical conclusion to make once you take a good step back, reassess the situation, and see clearly.
For XFL supporters, prospective coaches, players, and employees. The cancelation or delay of yet another season is an extremely bitter pill to swallow. They have been down this road of faith so many times.
From 2018-2020, a two-year wait for the league to launch ( a logical and sound decision), then the season ends abruptly due to the pandemic, the league is miraculously resurrected through bankruptcy but then delayed as a result from 2021-2022. (another logical and sound decision).
But now, XFL supporters may have to wait until 2023. With their hopes and dreams dashed yet again, it’s fair to question whether or not loyal backers of the league will be willing to go down that road again.
The same holds true for the former employees, coaches, and players of the XFL in 2020. Some have already moved on to other ventures. The ones that remain have been on the sidelines, praying for their chance to get back in the game. Another delay of the XFL would be difficult for them to digest.
It’s harsh at the end of the day, but the XFL pushing back the launch of their league will challenge people’s faith and interest in the league. Despite the wonderful possibility and potential of what Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson can bring to a league, and the enormous financial prowess of RedBird Capital Partners.
The XFL not returning in 2022 will further challenge the faith and patience in many who, up until this point, had not lost it, despite all the trials and tribulations.
Now that we have acknowledged the elephant in the room. Let’s get into the reasons why all the signs are pointing to there being no XFL season in 2022.
TIME IS NOT ON THEIR SIDE
The most logical reason that the XFL won’t be able to get back on the field in 2022 is time. A luxury that benefitted the XFL from 2018-2020 that the current ownership group doesn’t have.
Back in January, in an article, I wrote for this site. ‘The Race To Relaunch The League In 2022′
I outlined all the steps that the league needed to accomplish to relaunch the league. Using the template and example of what the XFL did from 2018-2020.
At the time of my relaunch article back in January, the XFL was searching for a Chief Football Officer.
The hiring of someone to run the football operations for the league was the first crucial step in building the XFL back up from bankruptcy. It would be the first of many steps required to set the XFL on a course for 2022.
The truth is that the present-day XFL’s path to the field would be a lot more challenging than that of the 2018 iteration. After all, the new ownership group inherited a bare-bones league stripped down due to bankruptcy in the middle of an uncertain world due to the pandemic. On top of that, the situation afforded XFL 3.0 less time than its predecessor.
To get to their desired destination of 2022 on time, the XFL would have to get moving quickly. To that end, the league enlisted a CAA Sports’ executive search team, led by Joe Becher, late last year.
With RedBird founder Gerry Cardinale at the helm overseeing the entire search. Also included were RedBird partner and former Browns President Alec Scheiner, who was also heavily involved in the process. Former Buffalo Bills president Russ Brandon was also brought on to advise RedBird on XFL matters.
The key word repeated in that last paragraph is WAS. In recent days, I have been in contact with sources close to the league, who are indicating that the CFO search is off.
As far-fetched as it may seem to many. There are people in the know suggesting that the future power structure of the XFL may come from within the very league that the XFL will be collaborating with in the future.
The reasoning behind the XFL changing course on their CFO search is directly connected with what they revealed publicly on March 10th. And it may ultimately be the reason why the XFL doesn’t return in 2022.
The Canadian Football League (CFL) and XFL have entered into formal talks to identify potential opportunities for the leagues to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football.-XFL Statement- March 10th
On their path towards playing in 2022. Everything changed for the XFL when the CFL came into the picture. The original vision of the XFL relaunching as they were in 2020 has shifted dramatically now, with the CFL in talks to partner up with them.
The overall plans and vision may not be finalized at the moment, but it’s quite clear that the XFL is cooking up something on a grand scale with the CFL. It goes beyond a standard working agreement between two leagues.
To get a hint of where the XFL’s partnership with the CFL is likely headed. As the old saying goes, follow the money.
RedBird Capital Partners has been aggressively expanding its sports portfolio, which already includes stakes in the Yes Network, Toulouse FC, OneTeam Collective, and the Wasserman Media Group. Recent reports have Boston Red Sox majority owner John Henry agreeing to sell an 11% stake in the team’s parent company to RedBird.
It’s reasonable to assume that the XFL’s relationship with the Canadian Football league will entail RedBird taking some form of financial stake in the CFL. To what extent, remains to be seen.
The truth is that despite the pandemic and all the hurdles, that the CFL still has to clear in their own country in regards to safety and pandemic protocols. And all that entails.
The CFL is in a much better position to get on the field and play than the XFL is.
After all, the CFL is a fully constituted league, from top to bottom. Complete with an entire team of employees in the league offices, nine complete rosters, and coaching staffs. A TV deal, sponsorships, stadiums to play, a full schedule, etc
The XFL right now has none of those things. They have Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, Gerry Cardinale, and RedBird Capital Partners as their owners. Jeffrey Pollack as their CEO. And a handful of league employees. That’s it. The XFL is still tying up loose ends from its bankruptcy and dealing with the residual effects.
So the clearest path right now to the field for the XFL’s new ownership group, specifically, RedBird, is the CFL.
If anything, RedBird’s best chance to get on the field and have a stake in a football league playing will be with the CFL first, in whatever equity or financial deal that will be agreed upon between both leagues.
The CFL is ready to play. The XFL isn’t. RedBird can provide the CFL with financial security and stability, with an improved and updated business model.
So how does the XFL factor in all of this? A lot of that will depend on the type of merger that the two leagues agree upon. A full scale merger between both leagues will require that the XFL build itself up to get to the point where the CFL already is.
For a hypothetical merger to happen, the XFL’s intended February 2022 timeline has to shift dramatically. The upcoming CFL season runs until November. The turnaround for both leagues to start a merger in 2022 would be very difficult to pull off in that timeframe.
Based on the CFL’s TV contract with their partner TSN, which runs through 2025, and the requirements that the games take place in July and August. The XFL and CFL running side by side would require long term planning and execution.
Because a lot of the particulars haven’t been decided yet. It’s going to take a considerable amount of time and planning to execute this grand vision. A plan that would include deciding on rules affects when and where the games are played. And in what venues and fields that they are played on.
So in summation, it’s entirely plausible that we could get two CFL seasons in 2021 and 2022 before the XFL is ready to begin to play with the CFL in 2023. Presumably sometime in the late spring. April perhaps?
So what becomes of the XFL in 2022?
The entire year can be used as a vehicle by Dwayne Johnson and the league through reality programming dedicated to the merger. The Rock’s massive reaching social media platforms can also promote and document the entire process heading into 2023. Think of a real-life Ballers with the entire CFL and XFL league as the main characters.
One league, resserected from the dead in the XFL, back to save another league the CFL from dying. And as a result, giving new life to one another.
Ironically, the XFL and RedBird stepping in and stepping up to ensure that the CFL keeps playing is the very reason that the XFL most likely won’t be in 2022.
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