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Everything we know about the XFL as its player showcases ramp up

The XFL season is still eight months away, but the league has been busy hosting showcase events that serve as regional combos for players. The process continues this weekend with a focus on HBCU schools with the participation of Jackson State Coach Deion Sanders. League co-owners Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia will be among the XFL executives in attendance.

The XFL will employ a spring schedule beginning the week after the Super Bowl and ending in late April, meaning it will not compete concurrently with the USFL, which recently wrapped up its season and confirmed plans for a second season in the are in progress.

With that in mind, let’s roll back what we know about the XFL version 3.0 after previous incarnations in 2001 and 2020, with launch scheduled for February 18, 2023.

The league plans to announce its eight teams and venues by the end of this month

The league owns all intellectual property of XFL 2.0, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2020 and was sold to Garcia, Johnson and RedBird Capital Partners in August 2020 for $15 million. In some cases, however, brands and venues have had to be restored and leases have to be negotiated.

This process will likely prompt the league to move some of its 2020 locations. However, industry sources expect the cities that adopted the 2020 teams — specifically St. Louis, Seattle and Washington, DC — to remain in place. Games will again be played in a mix of NFL, MLS and smaller collegiate stadiums.

It is possible that there is one central practice location for all eight teams

XFL 2.0 teams trained and played in their home markets. Had the league weathered the pandemic, plans are afoot for a single-venue “bubble” structure in Spring 2021. For the XFL 3.0, industry sources have suggested a likely combination of these approaches in 2023.

Under this plan, all eight teams would train in one city and then travel to games as needed. Based on social media videos of early league meetings, this central location could be in the Dallas area.

All eight head coaches and directors of human resources were hired, as well as many key assistants

On-field leadership will be a mix of XFL 2.0 veterans and newbies. The list includes former NFL head coaches Wade Phillips and Jim Haslett, as well as longtime Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops, who served in a similar role for the XFL’s Dallas Renegades in 2020. The rest of the coaches are all former NFL players: Terrell Buckley, Hines Ward, Rod Woodson, Reggie Barlow and Anthony Becht.

The most prominent assistant coach hired so far is Gregg Williams, who will serve as defensive coordinator under Barlow. Four of the team’s directors of human resources worked with the XFL in 2020: Randy Mueller, Joey Clinkscales, Dave Boller and Will Lewis.

The owners have taken on public roles but built up an extensive league office

Garcia and Johnson have done nearly all of the league’s publicity to date, and social media videos have shown them reaching out to players at showcase events. Johnson is by far the league’s most marketable asset.

On a day-to-day basis, however, the league is led by President Russ Brandon, a former board member of the Buffalo Bills. Brandon and Garcia, the league chairmen, have held more than a dozen senior positions on business and football platforms.

NFL veterans Marc Ross (executive vice president), Doug Whaley (senior vice president) and Dean Blandino (vice president) are the top football executives. Whaley and Blandino were also part of the leadership group of XFL 2.0.

All 43 XFL games will be televised and/or streamed on a Disney platform

The league plans 10 regular season games per team, followed by three postseason games. All will be televised by ABC, ESPN or FX under an exclusive agreement the sides announced in May. Streaming plans will be announced at a later date.

The XFL is not merging with the CFL

The XFL spent three months in 2021 discussing a potential collaboration with the Canadian Football League to expand its global reach. The sides eventually brought those discussions to the table, but timing forced the XFL to delay their return to the field from 2022 to 2023.

However, the XFL has announced a few other collaborations

In February, the league announced it would work with the NFL to create innovation programs and protect player health. At the time, Brandon said he hoped the league could serve as a “petri dish” for the NFL to experiment with proposed rules, test new equipment, and develop potential officials and coaches.

In April, the XFL agreed to partner with the NFL Alumni Academy to develop future players. All players participating in the program will receive an opt-in contract to join the XFL in 2023.

The XFL has avoided talking directly about competing with the USFL, but…

… Ross and Whaley held a virtual meeting with agents in April to update them on their plans for 2023 and beyond. During the meeting, they said the XFL would offer higher salaries and better benefits than the USFL.

The USFL urged its players to sign two-year contracts in 2022 to keep them away from the XFL in 2023. But as the XFL begins rostering this fall, it will first attack players who have been banned from NFL practice camp.

https://www.espn.com/xfl/story/_/id/34239760/everything-know-xfl-player-showcases-ramp-up Everything we know about the XFL as its player showcases ramp up

Emma Bowman

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