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XFL 3.0 Is Here. Why This Time It’s Actually Going to Work.

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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson & Dani Garcia

I’m old enough to remember the original XFL, the one with Jesse “the Body” Ventura touting how it will outperform the NFL in every way in an when the word XTreme was the buzz word for EVERYTHING, Doritos, sodas, toilet paper, water and more was striving to be extreme. It was the early 2000s and it failed, hilariously.

When you think X-Treme, you think Jello.

The XFL from 2001 started with great ratings, pulling 9.5 million viewers on week 1, but plummeted to just 1.5 million by the end of the season, and only 2.1 mil for the championship. Low end football compared to the NFL and few changes promoted as bigger than they were (like picking your name on your jersey) killed the league and placed it in the annals of hilarious failures.

Enter 2020 and my literal first gig in sports coverage was covering XFL 2.0 and specifically the New York Guardians. The league tested well as blue collar football; a league run by WWE mogul Vince McMahon who seemingly learned his lesson from his mistakes 19 years prior. Players connected with fans in a way the NFL hadn’t; taking selfies with fans, chugging drinks given to them by fans, and even creating some of the longest beer snakes sports history, aided by XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck himself and donating his own beer cup to the cause. See if Roger Goodell would ever do that. This was true blue collar football it showed signs of enormous potential, building a human connection between athletes & fans. Then Covid happened and the league was dead after just five games. What could have been now no longer was.

Here we are in 2023 and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dani Garcia. Some teams have changed, some locations as well (EG: My Guardians are now in Orlando) and third time’s the charm. Sandwiched between the week after the letdown that Super Bowl LVII ended up being and USFL 2.0 year 2 this gives fans the steady stream of football this country craves. This is not NFL level football and it doesn’t need to be. It needs to be thought of as minor league football and a chance for players to showcase their skills on a national stage while still making a living doing so, earning up to $6,000 per week during the season.

I love that, and the gratitude of the players showed. Skipping what Covid did to us as a community it was a shame what happened three years ago to the league. The St. Louis Battlehawks pulled better TV ratings head to head against the reigning Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. Will the league pull the numbers last time? Ehhh, don’t think so, not at first anyway. But will it survive and thrive under Garcia and The Rock? ABSOLUTELY YES. And I can’t wait.

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