Posts Tagged ‘2023 XFL Season’

The XFL is giving it another go, again, and this time it will have Brian Westbrook in an executive role. 

The former Eagles running back was announced as the rebooted league’s Director of Player Engagement on Wednesday, serving as a liaison for its players in media, education, and business opportunities. 

“Brian is an incredibly important hire for the XFL as he will be a key driver behind the League’s commitment to holistic player development,” said XFL President Russ Brandon in a statement. “Following his impressive career in the NFL, Brian has done a phenomenal job building his brand while also committing himself to help other athletes reach their maximum potential on and off the field. We’re excited to have him on our team to create a new, unmatched opportunity for player success.”

Coming out of Villanova, Westbrook played for the Eagles from 2002-2009, becoming a fan favorite, the franchise’s all-time leader in yards from scrimmage, and arguably its greatest running back ever

After officially retiring in 2012, he’s had stints in broadcasting, got a business degree from the Wharton school over at the University of Pennsylvania, and recently published a children’s book, all while remaining a beloved figure around the city.

“I was the Director of College Scouting for the Philadelphia Eagles when he was drafted in 2002 and he remains one of my favorite players,” Marc Ross, the league’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations, said. “We’re thrilled to have him join the team. His experience across the industry leads to a deep understanding of the game and what it takes to succeed both on and off the field. We’re confident that Brian’s expertise will enhance the League as we create a new standard of player empowerment.”

The XFL, undergoing its second relaunch, is expected to begin play again in February 2023. 

In its original form, it lasted only a season in 2001 as an infamous combination of football and pro wrestling under now former WWE chairman Vince McMahon. 

In 2018, McMahon assembled a group to revive the league, but with new intentions of offering a purer and more experimental brand of football, one that did capture an audience when its season kicked off in early 2020 (shoutout to Temple alum and Roughnecks legend P.J. Walker), but was derailed into bankruptcy after just a few weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now the next iteration of the XFL will be headed by an ownership group led by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with big-name NFL alumni like Hines Ward, Rod Woodson, Jim Haslett, and Wade Phillips on board to coach four of the league’s eight teams

Now B-West has joined the fold too. 

Recently, The Rock appeared as a guest on the popular show “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The Brahma Bull was asked about the upcoming XFL American Football League next year, a company he acquired along with a group of other investors in 2020, after former owner Vince McMahon filed for bankruptcy. 

“We wanted to take our time, do it right- this is the third iteration of XFL.” The XFL ran for one reason in 2001, where the league attempted and failed to be a competitor to the NFL. In 2017, it was announced that the XFL would be returning, this time as a spring league, after the NFL ended its season with the Super Bowl in February. In 2020, the XFL would run its first season after the rebuild, though stopping ultimately halfway through the first season after the COVID-19 Pandemic hit the world. This resulted in the eventual filing for bankruptcy.

The Rock went on to say that the NFL and XFL have partnered in a unique way. “The NFL has an Alumni Academy, that if you don’t roster throughout the NFL season, you automatically get a contract to go to the XFL, to play there,” said Rock. The Rock also said that NFL coaches will be able to come to watch and evaluate players in the XFL and that if the players are deemed ready, they will be able to move on to the NFL in the following fall season.

“My goal and my dream was to play pro football. I went to the University of Miami, played with some great players, great teams,” Rock said about his early football career. Before eventually joining the WWF in 1996, The Rock attempted to pursue a career in pro football; however, it wasn’t to be. “There are 53 men on an NFL Roster. I was always number 54. I was that guy the coaches always said, ‘DJ, you’re good, but not good enough.’”

The XFL, the spring pro football league fronted by Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia, took a big step toward finalizing its plans Sunday with a press conference that revealed the cities, venues and head coaches for its upcoming 2023 season.

The regular season is set to kick off February 18, 2023 with eight teams. Those include in newly announced cities — Las Vegas, Orlando and San Antonio — which are replacing existing teams in Los Angeles, New York and Tampa, FL. ESPN says those were the three cities with the lowest turnout in 2020, the league’s most recent season, which was halted midway through because of the Covid pandemic.

Two other XFL teams on the 2023 slate reside in Texas (Arlington and Houston), with other franchises in Seattle, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

All 43 XFL games will air on Disney platforms in a carriage deal announced in May by Garcia, the league’s chairwoman and owner, and her movie and TV producing partner Johnson, after the duo with RedBird Capitol Partners acquired the league for $15 million from Vince McMahon in 2020 after it had started bankruptcy proceedings.

McMahon originally bankrolled the return of the league, which he resurrected after a 20-year absence. It had played just one season previously, in 2001, as joint venture between McMahon’s WWF (now the WWE) and NBC.

This year’s games will air on Disney platforms ABC, ESPN and FX.

“We’ve had a clear vision for the XFL – the values to instill, the diversity of our leaders, the innovation of the game and how we want to deeply engage with our communities so they can help bring this vision to life. Today, our league takes another step closer to 2023 kickoff as we officially announce where our teams will play,” Garcia said today during a press conference livestreamed on the XFL’s YouTube channel. “What brings a league to life is the passion of the fandom behind it. In each of these cities we will co-create with our fans and build these teams from the ground up so that they represent the unique fabric of our communities. We welcome all football fans to join us as we get ready for kickoff in February.”

Along with the cities, the league revealed its head coaching assignments with most names familiar to football fans: former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops (Arlington), Wade Phillips (Houston), Terrell Buckley (Orlando), Rod Woodson (Las Vegas), Hines Ward (San Antonio), Jim Haslett (Seattle), Anthony Becht (St. Louis) and Reggie Barlow (Washington, DC).

Said Johnson, who was coming off his appearance at Warner Bros’ Black Adam panel at Comic-Con in San Diego, added: “I’m psyched to reveal the cities that our players will have the chance to represent and compete in. This is another massive moment for the XFL, and I’m ready to feel the electricity our dedicated fans will bring to these iconic venues.

“There is great energy building within our league and there is still much more to come… and I can promise it’s going to be worth the wait. We have been working on fresh, new logos and uniforms – even working with some of the team names you already know – that will match the dynamic and innovative vision of our league. We see you, we hear you and your excitement fuels us to continue to bring you the absolute best. We have just under seven months until kickoff and the countdown is officially on.”

The XFL has cemented the cities it will play in upon its return to play in 2023 and assigned coaches to the teams, Pro Football Network reported Sunday.

XFL teams are set for three Texas cities — Houston, Dallas and San Antonio — as well as Seattle, Las Vegas, Orlando, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

The XFL named the coaches in April and still have not officially announced the cities. The league also has not confirmed where each coach will be assigned.

Per Pro Football Network, Wade Phillips is heading home to Houston, where he went to college and once was an assistant coach with the NFL’s Texans. He also was the head coach of the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys.

Joining him in Texas are former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who will lead the Dallas team, and Super Bowl-winning wide receiver Hines Ward, who will be the head coach in San Antonio.

Stoops was the head coach of the Dallas Renegades in the XFL in 2020 before it ended the season prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Haslett will coach the Seattle team.

The four other teams will be led by first-time head coaches at the pro level: Reggie Barlow in Washington, D.C., Pro Football Hall of Fame member Rod Woodson in Las Vegas, Terrell Buckley in Orlando and Anthony Becht in St. Louis.

Ward also is a first-time head coach.

The rebooted XFL is scheduled to begin play Feb. 18, 2023, less than a week after the NFL plays Super Bowl LVII at Phoenix.

Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella admitted during his introductory press conference Friday that his team has a long way to go after a tough 2021-22 season.

“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to be Stanley Cup contenders next year. I get that,” he said. “I know there’s some work to do. … That’s what I want to do, that’s what coaches do. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

He continued: “I’m not afraid of what people are saying about the team. I get it’s out there. It fuels me. … I’m looking forward to getting to the bunker in that locker room with all the Flyers and (going) about our business.”

Despite winning six of their first 10 games, the Flyers finished last in the Metropolitan Division with a 25-46-11 record under Alain Vigneault and interim bench boss Mike Yeo. Philadelphia missed the playoffs for the third time in the past four years.

Tortorella believes his first order of business is to improve the team’s play around the puck to make life easier for young netminder Carter Hart.

“I think we need to give Carter a little more support as far as how we play around him, allow him to really get himself into the National Hockey League. … This is how you go about it,” Tortorella said.

The Flyers ranked in the bottom third of the league in shot attempts for (46.6%), expected goals for (46.5%), and scoring chances for (44.9%), per Natural Stat Trick. They also gave up the seventh-most high-danger chances at five-on-five this season.

Tortorella added that, though he isn’t a fan of the term, Philadelphia’s “culture” needs to change.

“Bottom line is, I want the team to be hard,” he said. “I think we need to present ourselves, look harder coming off the bus, coming into buildings. I want other teams to say, ‘You know what? We’ve got our hands full tonight.'”

A two-time Jack Adams Award winner, Tortorella spent the 2021-22 season as a studio analyst for ESPN.

Now that the XFL has a significant broadcasting agreement in place with Disney/ESPN, one of the next tasks for the league is to nail down in which cities their planned eight teams will be playing.

There seems to be some tough decisions ahead for the league. Of all the XFL teams that played in 2020, the one that everyone is convinced is a no-brainer to return is the BatttleHawks from St. Louis, MO.

With the success the XFL had in the St. Louis market in 2020, they would have to be bonkers not to work out a deal to return to the Gateway City.

The rumor mill has been talking about the league looking for a stadium deal in St. Louis for weeks. More recently, Frank Cusumano of KSDK, reported that The Dome at America’s Center had reserved five weekend dates for next spring, for possible XFL home games.  It was an odd rumor to hear they had reserved five dates, which led to the thought, “Which dates?” However, it is possible they penciled in some flexible spots for use by the XFL.

One important factor that seems to be coming up more and more lately is the time remaining until the XFL’s 2023 season. It seems there is much to do, such as getting sponsorship and selling tickets. However, all of these things have to wait until the league decides in which cities it will commit to playing.

Rumors of an XFL Announcement

Earlier today, Randy Karraker, co-host of Karraker & Smallmon, 101 ESPN, posted an outright announcement on Instagram that the St. Louis team would be announced on June 1st.

Details are sketchy, perhaps we will hear more next week, and hopefully an official announcement from the league. As well, we don’t have confirmation that the team would retain the name “BattleHawks.”

But why wouldn’t they? There does not seem to be any reason to rebrand such as successful organization as the St. Louis XFL team.

It was announced on Tuesday at Disney Upfront, that the XFL has reached a multi-year agreement with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN.

The multi-year agreement is from 2023 to 2027. Each season’s 43 games will air on ABC, ESPN networks, and FX.

The 2023 season will kick off on Saturday, February 18, 2023.

Below is the full press release:

NEW YORK – May 17, 2022 – The XFL today announced a new, global multi-year agreement with The Walt Disney Company (“TWDC”) and ESPN, which includes exclusive broadcast rights for all gameday content, tentpole events and more, for its upcoming 2023 season through 2027. Each season, all 43 games (40 regular season games, two playoffs, one championship) will be featured on a combination of ABC, ESPN networks and FX. Additionally, the agreement includes exclusive content rights across TWDC and ESPN’s digital, social and direct-to-consumer outlets such as ESPN+. The XFL is excited to officially announce its 2023 season will kick off on Saturday, February 18, 2023.

The announcement was revealed today at the Disney Upfront, where XFL owners Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson were in attendance and presented the news.

“Without question, we have long admired Disney’s distinct ability to engage an expansive consumer fanbase across verticals, while also maintaining a deeply authentic, nuanced and heartfelt approach to storytelling much like our own,” said Dany Garcia, Chairwoman of the XFL. “To find a partner that honors our foundation and to be able to root our vision of unwavering passion, accessibility and the future of football with Disney as our home, is a dream come true. We are extraordinarily excited to explore the endless possibilities of this partnership – today is surely just the beginning.”

“The XFL will tap into sports fans’ deep love of football by emphasizing competitive action while dedicating itself to innovation and entertainment,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “You can see a great path to success when you combine the reach and influence of ESPN and Disney with the collective vision of XFL leadership led by Dany, Dwayne and Gerry.”

Dwayne Johnson added, “This is a definitive moment for the XFL and the beginning of an incredible, long-term partnership for the league, building on my longstanding, very successful legacy relationship I’ve had with Disney throughout my career. We’re excited to be working with global visionaries that are aligned with the XFL’s values, are true team players and share our ambitious goals to grow the XFL as a global sports and entertainment business. Through the combined power of Disney, ESPN and the XFL, together we will create a new powerhouse on the sports calendar and bring a dynamic game of football to fans everywhere. Time to ball out.”

Gerry Cardinale said, “With today’s announcement, the XFL has launched a truly innovative partnership with The Walt Disney Company and its world-class platforms across media, culture, sports and entertainment.  It is a privilege to join forces with the incredibly talented team at Disney and ESPN and bring Dany and Dwayne’s vision for world-class football and live event entertainment to our fans and players.”

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As we’ve noted, the XFL went into bankruptcy after the COVID-19 pandemic brought an early end to their return season in the spring of 2020. WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon had sold the league to The Rock, along with business partners Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital in August of 2020, for $15 million.

The XFL snagged some high-profile coaching names for its 2023 return.

Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips and ex-Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward are among eight XFL head coaches, the league announced Wednesday.

Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, former Virginia State coach Reggie Barlow, ex-NFL tight end Anthony Becht, former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Haslett, and ex-NFL cornerbacks Terrell Buckley and Rod Woodson round out the XFL’s coaching group.

Stoops is the only returning coach after guiding the Dallas Renegades for the league’s ill-fated comeback season in 2020.

“This is yet another huge moment for the XFL,” said league co-owner Dwayne Johnson. “I have experienced firsthand the positive influence and impact that coaches can have on a player’s life, and with our group of smart, accomplished, and motivating head coaches, I expect nothing less.

“Not only will these coaches be mentors to our players, but they will be a big part of the cities in which we will operate.”

The XFL didn’t announce which teams the coaches will lead. The 2020 lineup of clubs included the Renegades, St. Louis Battlehawks, Tampa Bay Vipers, New York Guardians, Seattle Dragons, Los Angeles Wildcats, D.C. Defenders, and Houston Roughnecks.

COVID-19 forced the XFL to end its first campaign since 2001 after completing half of its scheduled 10-week season. The league filed for bankruptcy, and Johnson, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital purchased it for $15 million later in 2020.

The XFL is set to kickoff in February 2023.

The XFL continues to connect themselves with the NFL.

XFL has announced a partnership with the NFL Alumni Academy, which will see the NFL help the returning league with scouting and training resources and will see members of the NFL Alumni Academy, automatically receive XFL deals at the end of the season.

From XFL:

NEW YORK – April 11, 2022 – The XFL today announced it has entered an exclusive partnership with the NFL Alumni Academy, an elite in-season training program for “NFL Ready” players led by former NFL coaches and players. Together, the XFL and the NFL Alumni Academy will enhance the football ecosystem by combining their scouting and training expertise to develop the next best players in the game and offer more opportunities to play professional football.

“This is a monumental partnership not only for the XFL, but for the entire football ecosystem,” said Russ Brandon, XFL President. “The NFL Alumni Academy has found great success over the past two years training and mentoring up-and-coming players, many of whom have gone on to play in the NFL, and we are collaborating to create another avenue of opportunity for players to showcase their talent. We are completely aligned in our player-centric philosophy and we’re eager to continue to explore the bounds of this partnership.”

The XFL and the NFL Alumni Academy will work together to identify the highest caliber players to train at the NFL Alumni Academy, leveraging combined resources and expertise to seek quality talent. Upon completion of the NFL Alumni Academy at the end of the NFL season, each player will automatically receive an opt-in contract with the XFL. The goal of this partnership is to enhance the entire football ecosystem by extending player cycles and expanding professional playing opportunities that are also complementary with the NFL season and off-season.

“What makes a league successful is its players, which is why we take a holistic approach to player development at the NFL Alumni Academy, ensuring they have skills and resources needed to excel both on and off the field,” said Dean Dalton, Executive Director at NFL Alumni Academy. “We are really excited for this strategic partnership with the XFL, which will have a positive ripple-effect across the entire football landscape.” Dalton added. “We want to thank our marketing agency, WaV Sports and Entertainment, for bringing The NFL Alumni Academy and XFL together for this unique initiative”.

The NFL Alumni Academy develops and trains the top available free-agent football players during the NFL season in preparation to sign an in-season contract with NFL teams looking to replace 500+ active roster players lost each season due to injury. The Academy has successfully placed players on NFL team rosters each season. Entering its third season in 2022, the NFL Alumni Academy is increasing the number of players and expanding the positions welcomed into its program, providing even more players the opportunity to train at the highest level. In addition to providing an elite football training forum, the NFL Alumni Academy offers off-field development opportunities including life skills, cognitive training, and mind-body wellness programs.