News surfaced in early August that Dwayne Johnson and his business partner Dany Garcia were purchasing the XFL. Having new ownership created questions about whether the football league would return for a third outing, but the XFL has remained on hiatus. Now there is an opportunity for the league to partner with the Canadian Football League for the future.
The XFL and CFL both released statements on Wednesday and revealed that the two leagues are in talks about how to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football. These statements did not reference the possibility of a merger in the near future. Instead, they highlighted how the XFL could blend "fresh thinking" and the ownership's vast reach with the rich heritage of the CFL. The XFL then confirmed that the 2022 season is on hold while the talks continue.
An update on the 2022 Season: pic.twitter.com/AnTvrKZd24— XFL (@XFL2022) March 10, 2021
"Since we first acquired the XFL, we have focused on identifying partners who share our vision and values on and off the field," Garcia said. "A vision filled with opportunity, innovation and the highest level of entertainment value for the benefit of our athletes, fans and communities. The CFL has expressed that similar sentiment and jointly we recognize a great opportunity to build exciting innovative football experiences that make the most of each league's unique strengths."
The XFL returned in February 2020 and sparked excitement among viewers. There were wild moments on the field and the sidelines, especially with players cursing during the broadcast. However, the COVID-19 pandemic completely disrupted the season and brought the games to an early end.
Vince McMahon's league canceled the 2020 season after a mere five weeks of games due to the coronavirus disrupting the sports world. McMahon then put the league into bankruptcy proceedings. Garcia, Johnson, and RedBird Capital Partners ultimately paid $15 million for the league.
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The CFL was similarly hit hard by the pandemic. The league canceled the 2020 season after failing to secure $30 million in aid from the Canadian government. The league is set to return in late May with preseason games, but questions remain about attendance, the league's primary revenue stream.
If the leagues do collaborate in the near future, there are questions about whether the teams will play each other and if some rules will change. The CFL relies on three downs instead of four while incorporating 12 players on the field. The XFL is far more similar to the NFL and college football — although the league added a unique twist with new three-point conversions after touchdowns.