Can Russ Brandon Help XFL Emerge As Competition To The NFL?

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19 years after its well-documented failure, WWE chairman Vince McMahon relaunched the XFL in 2020.

In Jan. 2018, McMahon announced his plans to bring back the league that lasted one season in 2001. Former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck was named the Commissioner and CEO of the XFL, and Jeffrey Pollack was hired as the league’s President & Chief Operating Officer.

The games were broadcast on ABC, ESPN, FOX, FS1 and FS2. But the relaunch lasted just five weeks in 2020 before the league was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The XFL ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Before the league could go up for auction, Hollywood actor and former WWE superstar Dwayne “The Rock” and his business partner Dany Garcia teamed up with RedBird Capital to purchase the XFL for $15 million.

The CFL and the XFL held discussions regarding a possible collaboration. However, the two leagues ceased talks and wound up commencing their own 2021 season; the entire 2020 campaign was canceled due to the pandemic.

Initially, the XFL hoped to come back in the spring of 2022, but the league is now eyeing a return for 2023.

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The XFL has a betting central section on its website. So when the league reopens its doors, fans will presumably be able to bet on XFL games and you can find the best sports betting apps for football are listedEarlier this month, the XFL hired former Buffalo Bills CEO Russ Brandon to serve as their new President. Brandon worked with the Bills for 21 years, and he briefly served as the Buffalo Sabres team President under owners Terry and Kim Pegula. Brandon resigned from the Bills and Sabres in 2018.

With new ownership and a new president, can the XFL realistically emerge as competition to the NFL? 

The NFL IS The King Of North American Sports Leagues

Simply put, the XFL shouldn’t even think about emerging as serious competition to the NFL.

The NFL is an industry that brings in billions of dollars a year. This spring, the league signed a new 11-year television deal worth $110 billion, a clear indicator that the league’s popularity isn’t about to wane.

The NFL makes billions of dollars annually in ticket revenue as well; all 32 clubs bring in hundreds of thousands of fans each year.

Television numbers from the first half of the 2021 season alone are further evidence that the NFL’s national following is only rapidly growing. No other professional sports league in the country is anywhere close to matching the NFL when it comes to weekly viewership.

This league remains far-and-away the most popular in America. Not to mention that the Super Bowl draws well over 90 million American viewers annually.

At this time, there is no evidence to believe that the NFL is about to undergo a decrease in terms of national following, viewership and ticket sales/revenue.

The XFL Needs To Focus On Surviving

When it comes to competing with the NFL, other leagues haven’t experienced any success whatsoever.

The XFL has already closed its doors twice, and we don’t even know yet if the third launch is here to stay long-term. The AAF couldn’t even complete a full season before folding. And the USFL (1983 to ‘85) only made it to three seasons before folding.

So for the XFL, the goal shouldn’t be to try and compete with the NFL. That’s a pipe dream.

The simple goal here should be to actually sustain itself. Commencing the XFL regular season after the Super Bowl (held annually in February) is a wise decision. 

It gives football fans a nice secondary option during the NFL offseason, and it increases the chances of the audience coming to love the XFL. It’d be another story if the XFL tried competing with the NFL during its season, which spans from September to February.

This is the last stand for the XFL. Having failed twice before, it’s a three-strikes-you’re-out-situation.

With deep-pocketed owners and an experienced executive in Brandon leading the way, the XFL has most of the resources needed to last long-term. That has to be the main focus, because as history has shown, no other football league is realistically going to compete with the NFL.

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