On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams speak with XFL president Russ Brandon about the launch of the new football league later this week. XFL 3.0 kicks off Saturday with a pair of games, the first on ABC and the second on ESPN.
Brandon, who spent 25 years working in the NFL, said the group’s vision is to be “a league of innovation, not a league of gimmicks.” That includes taking successful parts of the existing professional football model, and then adding XFL-specific variation, particularly for new technology and new media.
“We’re not incumbered by 100 years of tradition,” Brandon said. “We’re trying to think of things differently, but always about advancing the game in a meanigful way.”
The XFL had about a dozen employees at this time last year, and now has more than 820. Brandon talks about getting the players and executives organized for Saturday’s kickoff, the XFL’s revenue outlook and how the specific franchise cities were chosen. Some (Las Vegas, Seattle, Houston) are NFL markets, while others (St. Louis, Orlando, San Antonio) are not.
The XFL was purchased for $15 million in 2020 by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, his business partner Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital. Brandon talks about what each of them brings to the table regarding celebrity, marketing experience, operational expertise and financial knowledge.
This will be the third go-around for the XFL, which originally lauched with a single season back in 2001. The brand was rebooted by Vince McMahon three years ago, but the eight-team league only made it though half a season before the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a bankruptcy.
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