The purchase of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson from the XFL is a source of excitement. At least he’s infinitely more interesting than an anonymous hedge fund manager emerging as the new face of the Spring Football League bankruptcy. But Johnson’s power off the field won’t mean much if the XFL can’t find better talent. Low-scoring games and sloppy play will continue to repel the masses no matter who sits in the league’s executive suite.
Johnson leads a group that agreed to buy the XFL for $ 15 million, according to a press release. His investors include his ex-wife and business partner, Dany García, as well as RedBird Capital Partners. The XFL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 13, citing the financial difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic.
Vince McMahon’s revival of the XFL was supposed to be different from the league’s failure in an inaugural season in 2001. The WWE president says he invested $ 200 million in the revived league, signing the first Commissioner Oliver Luck for a huge $ 35 million contract and for filling the league office with seasoned executives.
The hype was accomplished in Week 1. The XFL was an instant hit for the audience in Week 1, drawing an average of 3.1 million viewers for its four games; but for week three, it averaged 1.61 million viewers per contest. In other words, the league lost half of its audience in two weeks. Starting in week 5, the last week before the coronavirus pandemic forced the successful league to suspend operations, each XFL game drew around 1.5 million viewers.
Despite our nation’s insatiable appetite for soccer, the professional spring leagues have largely failed. American Alliance Football was also an early success in the ranking, but it only fell eight weeks after its first campaign.
The XFL introduced many groundbreaking concepts into its shows, including an exciting kick-off rule that required the kicker to kick the ball in the air and in-between the 20-yard line and the end zone, while having the cover team line up on the 35-yard return line and the return team line up on the 30-yard line. This ensured that the kickoff would be a competitive game and minimized the risk of high-speed collisions. The league broadcasts also included my players and coaches.
But these innovations were not enough to outshine boring football. In five weeks, teams averaged just 20.5 points per game, with 12 of 20 contests below the projected total points. The average completion rate among quarterbacks was 58.6%, and only two pass shooters reached double-digit numbers in touchdowns.
Johnson was an electric wrestling character, energizing exhausted crowds with his increasing microphone command. Although he was initially reserved as a heel, the crowd clung to him and propelled him to the rank of superstar. “The Rock” brought WWE to the end of the successful Attitude era and to the new millennium. Today, Johnson is one of the most successful action movie stars in Hollywood.
In his statement announcing the purchase of the XFL, Johnson says he intends to apply his successes in the entertainment world to the once upstart and now bankrupt football league. “With pride and gratitude for everything I’ve built with my own hands, I plan to apply these tripe to the XFL and can’t wait to create something special for players, fans and everyone involved. for the love of soccer, “he said, through ESPN.
As the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on our country’s economy, the XFL appears to be well positioned to transition to a bubble concept for the 2021 season, if necessary. MLB and NBA are watching their TV ratings soar when a nation trapped at home for five straight months is desperately seeking new entertainment options. But the MLB and NBA are also the best baseball and basketball leagues in the world, respectively. The XFL, or any spring soccer league, is inherently second-rate, and has no built-in fan traditions.
However, the initial success of the XFL ranking shows interest in a second soccer league. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reports that the league plans to pursue younger, more dynamic quarterbacks in 2021, instead of throwing relatively large sums at longtime NFL endorsements like Landry Jones and Matt McGloin, who failed last season. The best quarterback in the XFL was P.J. Walker, a former Indianapolis Colts quarterback coach who threw for 1,338 yards and 15 touchdowns in five games.
Walker is now with the Carolina Panthers. In total, nearly three dozen players have signed contracts with NFL teams.
Even if the XFL bounces back in a second season, these numbers show that it will still be difficult for the league to maintain and recruit talent. But with a better game and better talent, the XFL can develop a brand beyond its owner, be it McMahon or Johnson.
Right now, “The Rock” is the XFL draw. But if the league succeeds under his leadership, he will take a back seat and the players will take center stage. This is the only hope.