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USFL will return for second season, will play in multiple hub cities with no expansion in 2023

The USFL will accomplish a feat no spring football league not affiliated with the NFL has reached since the original the league that bears its name — have a second season. Executive producer Eric Shanks told Sports Business Journal the USFL will return for a second season and all eight teams from its inaugural season in 2022 will also be back.

The league will continue to hold office in Birmingham, the city where the USFL played all of its regular-season games in 2022. The central hub of Birmingham won’t be the only city where USFL teams will play next season, as the league plans to have all eight teams play in two to four markets in 2023 — with the eventual plan for all eight teams to play in their respective market.

While the USFL does have plans to expand, that isn’t expected to happen until 2024 if the league gets to a Year 3. The USFL will be competing with the XFL — which will have a relaunch in 2023 after two attempts where the league didn’t last a full season.

“We have a multiyear plan to build this football business,” Shanks said to Sports Business Journal. “If anything, the success of season one makes me even more excited than we were before going into Season 2 and beyond.”

The league will also start the week after the Masters and end July 4 weekend, same as this season. The XFL plans to begin play in February 2023 — one week after the Super Bowl — and end in early May of that season. The USFL and XFL will go head-to-head for a few weeks in late April and early May.

The USFL is the first spring football league to play a second season since the original USFL existed between 1983 to 1985. The XFL lasted just one season in 2001 while the Alliance of American Football failed to finish its season in 2019 and XFL 2.0 suffered the same fate in 2020. The United Football League lasted four seasons from 2009 to 2012, but that was played in the fall. NFL Europe lasted from 1991 to 2007, but that was affiliated with the NFL.

The next step for the USFL is to establish a fanbase across the United States, especially since there will be competition from another league in established markets.


Who we’ve got as Philadelphia Stars, Birmingham Stallions battle for crown

The 2022 USFL Championship is upon us, and the final matchup of the year will feature one team that was the favorite all season, and another that rode a late surge all the way to the “Spring League Super Bowl.” It’s the Philadelphia Stars vs. the Birmingham Stallions.

The Stars upset the New Jersey Generals in the first round of the playoffs thanks to a Maurice Alexander Jr. punt return touchdown late in the fourth quarter, which handed Mike Reilly’s team their first loss since Week 1 of the regular season. As for the Stallions, they ended a four-game, against-the-spread losing streak to down the New Orleans Breakers, 31-17.

The Stars and Stallions last faced off in Week 5 back on May 15. The Stallions escaped with a 30-17 victory, but it was a one-score game entering the final quarter. In fact, the Stars actually held a three-point lead at halftime! The contest was very even. Both offenses averaged about five yards per play, both scored two red zone touchdowns and both turned the ball over two times. Should we expect another close game on Sunday?

Congrats to the USFL for completing a successful season. Below, our CBS Sports staff will give their picks for Sunday’s matchup. Before we jump in, here’s everything you need to know about the final game of the 2022 USFL season. For a full breakdown of this matchup, check out Tyler Sullivan’s piece, here.

All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

Birmingham Stallions (-4.5) vs. Philadelphia Stars
Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (Canton, Ohio)
ATS records: Stallions (7-4), Stars (6-5)
Over/Under 45.5 (-110)

Jared Dubin: Stallions -4.5

“Stallions is a cooler name than Stars and that’s all I know about either team.”

John Breech: Stallions -4.5

“I watched two USFL games all year, so I don’t think I qualify as an expert here. However, I am an expert in marital relations and my wife is from Birmingham, so I’ll be going with the Stallions to win and cover.”

Patrik Walker: Stars +4.5

“This one’s for all the marbles, folks. It’s been an intriguing maiden voyage for the USFL, to say the least, but it all comes down to who wants it more — to be the first-ever champion of the league. On one side, you have a talented team from Philadelphia who has shown an ability to win in multiple ways, but they’re up against a gritty, hard-nosed squad from Birmingham who often looks to impose its will on opponents. This could go to the wire, but I don’t expect a high-scoring game, and if that prediction holds true, I believe the Stallions ride off into the sunset with the victory after having used their punishing run game to set up the critical big play downfield. 21-17, Stallions.”

Tyler Sullivan: Stallions -4.5

“Birmingham has been the team to beat all season and for good reason. They can put up points in all three phases, which was on full display last week against the Breakers when the offense, defense, and special teams all scored touchdowns during a 21-point second quarter. The Stallions defense has arguably the best pass rush in the USFL, which could pose similar problems to what Stars QB Case Cookus faced last time out against the Generals. In that win, he only completed 50% of his throws. If Birmingham forces him into similar production, Philadelphia won’t have a shot. While a lot of the attention will be on Birmingham’s stout defense vs. the high-flying Philadelphia offense, the Stars defense could be their demise. During the regular season, they were tied for the most points allowed per game. Birmingham is the more well-rounded club and should be able to win the title by a touchdown.”

Brett Anderson: Stars +4.5

“The Stallions were the best team in the regular season, but here’s the thing — they were the ONLY HOME TEAM. I’m not saying the 15,000 or so Birmingham fans that came to cheer them on (at least early on) swayed things tremendously, but that was still 15,000 or so more than any other team had. In Canton the Stallions don’t have that advantage, and now they’re playing the red-hot Stars, who have won five of their last six and have scored the most points in the USFL. Birmingham was the only team to beat Philly by more than one score all season, but in the title game the Stars should not only keep it within 4.5, they could win outright.”

Jordan Dajani: Stars +4.5

“Last week was a trip. With 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Generals up four points on the Stars, I was feeling pretty good about our chances of covering 4.5 points. Then, Alexander returned a punt 87 yards for a touchdown right after the two minute warning. Luis Perez was unable to engineer a game-winning drive, and that was that.

We also missed on the Breakers-Stallions game. New Orleans was down just four points entering the fourth quarter, but Birmingham scored 10 unanswered in the final stanza to put the game away. Bottom line, it was the worst week of USFL betting for me this season. Looking forward to this week, don’t the Stars have a bit of “team of destiny” feel to them? This is a club that went through some ups and downs, and even had to replace their starting quarterback early in the season. I was very impressed that Philly jumped out to a double-digit lead last week, and then scored what was the game-winning play on special teams. This team is hungry in all three facets of the game.

For my Super Bowl pick earlier this year, I took the Los Angeles Rams to win, but the Cincinnati Bengals — the supposed team of destiny — to cover 3.5 points. I’m going to do the same thing here. Give me the points with the Stars, who are very much live to win this game.”


Why start-up league should feel confident about returning in 2021 despite coronavirus shutdown

Not even larger-than-life Vincent Kennedy McMahon could do anything about the spread of the coronavirus. Following massive cancellations and postponements across the sports world on Thursday due to COVID-19 fears, the XFL followed suit and canceled the remainder of its 2020 season.

Unlike other sports — NCAA college basketball, for example, canceled all of its tournaments in a matter of hours early Thursday afternoon — the XFL took its time, finally releasing a statement a little after 7 p.m. ET. The day-long radio silence was frustrating, but it made sense. This is a start-up league we’re talking about here and there is one major consideration many other sports didn’t have: if the XFL ended its season early, would it be able to come back for a second one?

The league says it is committed to playing a full season in 2021. If nothing else, Renegades coach Bob Stoops plans to be back.

I just met with @XFLRenegades coach Bob Stoops. He said today felt like the end of a season and not a goodbye. I also asked him if he plans to be back in 2021. “That’s what I anticipate. That’s what I’m intending to do, but you don’t know where you’ll be at this time next year.”

— Joseph Hoyt (@JoeJHoyt) March 13, 2020
While there are no guarantees that “there’s always next year,” surely the league would not have said as much if it didn’t feel confident in the longterm relationship with its partners — in broadcasting and beyond. That includes betting. Remember after Week 1, when bookmakers boasted massive betting handles roughly 20 times greater than the AAF’s opening weekend in 2019?

Attendance was up, as well. AAF games averaged about 15,000 fans per home game. Through the first four weeks, XFL home teams were averaging about 18,600. That’s not a massive difference, and keep in mind the AAF lasted three more weeks before folding. Still, even though the XFL was not banking on attendance to stay afloat financially, it was outpacing its spring football counterpart.

Above all, the XFL was drama-free. It was enjoyable and, by and large, well-run. The in-game access separated it from a lot of other sports. The entertainment value was always there, even if there were stretches when the football itself hadn’t quite caught up. The biggest controversy was an officiating gaffe at the end of the Week 5 game between Houston and Seattle, and even that was solved efficiently and transparently.

Conversely, the AAF was dealing with some issue — mostly about money and control — practically every week. Hardly anything was ever business as usual. And therein lies the biggest reason why the XFL has more than a puncher’s chance to come back in 2021: the AAF folded because control owner Tom Dundon didn’t share the same vision as CEO Charlie Ebersol; the XFL season ended because of an act of God. Nobody — not the NBA, not the PGA, not even late-night talk shows — have been immune to that.

None of this has been fair and at first this feels like a spring football league just isn’t meant to be, but there are obviously bigger concerns at hand. The XFL did the right thing by canceling the season, giving fans a refund, paying out its players and allowing them to be picked up by the NFL in free agency. One XFL front office source also told CBS Sports that since they are salaried, many people behind the scenes still have jobs. But that was McMahon’s M.O. when his league failed the first time around. One former AAF and coach told CBS Sports last year that McMahon paid out every coach for the remainder of their contract when the first edition of the XFL fell through.

That’s not to say there won’t be hard-working people affected by the XFL’s cancellation. Stadium workers all across the country are out of luck. That’s true across a lot of sports. There’s a wider economic problem this country will be facing in the coming months as a result of the coronavirus. Retail, service and public events industries could take massive hits. And with school cancellations across the country, healthcare workers, teachers and students are being hurt. But what matters most during this pandemic is the health and safety of everyone. The XFL may have come to that official conclusion later than others, but it came to it all the same.

The foreseeable future will be tough on a lot of people. Sports are often used as a form of escapism during hard times and now those have been taken away, too. Social distancing will be difficult for long stretches of time. But this is a serious matter — it’s not “just the flu.” And the massive number of event/sports cancellations shows that people get this. If people are smart and take the proper precautions, though, we can get through it together. It will be a great day when life as we know it returns to a semblance of normalcy.

When that day comes, I remain confident the XFL will be there.


League balances mixed emotions after sudden halt to 2020 season

It was Thursday, March 12, around 5:30 p.m. ET, when XFL players started calling their agents to pass along the news.

Their league had been canceled.

About two hours later, when the startup professional football venture made the official announcement, the terms were less harsh: “Currently, the XFL will not be playing its regular season games” — with a promise to play “a full season in 2021” and beyond.

That may very well be true. There is general optimism among the XFL and its players that things will, eventually, return to normal. Pretty much the entire professional sports landscape has been forced to adopt the same hope, all while shuttering — literally — almost every major league in the wake of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

March Madness? Gone, at least until next year. NBA games? Postponed indefinitely. MLB Opening Day? Pushed back until mid-April, at the earliest. NHL games? Suspended indefinitely. The Masters? Pushed out of April for the first time since World War II. The 2020 Summer Olympics might be next.

The difference is the XFL was just getting started. Five weeks earlier, most people couldn’t have named half, let alone all eight of the league’s inaugural teams. On the flip side, in just those five weeks, the XFL had also grown to resemble the kind of genuine career stepping stool that so many of its players, coaches and staff failed to find elsewhere.

Put simply, when the XFL closed doors on March 12, it may not have closed only its own.

Any discussion of COVID-19’s impact on the world at large has to start there: with the world at large. Regardless of personal opinion about advice for the general public (embrace “social distancing”) or large-scale industries (from airlines to colleges to concerts to movies) suddenly valuing caution over convenience, the fact is the virus has spread rapidly, with more than 150,000 global cases and 5,700 deaths as of mid-Saturday.

In other words, no matter how unfortunate the XFL’s shutdown may have been for fans, players and everyone in between, most understand that it was inevitable.

Some of the league’s biggest names — quarterbacks P.J. Walker and Jordan Ta’amu among them — took to social media after the official announcement to share their gratitude for the abbreviated 2020 season and cast optimism on the future. Plenty of lesser-known teammates did the same. As a whole, one source told CBS Sports players think the XFL has been “extremely professional about communicating” during the abrupt process, especially about paying out salaries for games no longer on the schedule.

But that doesn’t make what’s transpired any less unfortunate.

Los Angeles Wildcats pass rusher Devin Taylor told CBS Sports that he understands the decision “from a world and health side,” knowing “the risks that we are currently facing” and the fact “we don’t know the true severity of it.” But he also acknowledged “it’s somewhat, from an athlete standpoint, frustrating because you want to play.”

In truth, for many like Taylor, “playing” in the XFL isn’t just that. The league successfully adopted a “For the Love of Football” slogan during its 2020 season, suggesting it would thrive as an alternative to the NFL, complete with genuinely competitive rosters, because its players — many of them NFL castoffs or hopefuls — simply loved playing the game. And don’t get it twisted: Many of them do.

As Taylor explained, however, playing in the XFL was also about building — or re-building — bigger dreams.

“I would love to play another year in the NFL,” he told CBS Sports a few weeks earlier, when COVID-19 was but a blip on countless Americans’ radar. “It’s what I want, as well as what all the players on my team want. The XFL is a good starting block, but I’m not settling till I’m back on the big stage.”

Taylor, of course, already had a taste of the NFL before. He’s not lacking a resume. He started opposite Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina. He spent four years with the Detroit Lions after coming into the league as a fourth-round draft pick, logging seven sacks in 2015. He had a cup of coffee with the New York Giants.

But take P.J. Walker as another example. The Temple product, an undersized quarterback who went undrafted and then spent three years on and off a team’s practice squad, just turned 25. He’s never taken a single NFL snap. Within weeks of becoming the XFL’s apparent MVP favorite as a human highlight reel with the undefeated Houston Roughnecks, he too was touting his XFL pedigree as a hopeful ticket to the big leagues, telling ESPN his goal was to return, permanently, to the NFL.

And the XFL, unlike so many startup leagues before it, was actually working. It was, at least to those on the inside, structured solidly enough to survive.

Vince Amey, Taylor’s defensive line coach with the Wildcats, has experience at pretty much every level and league of football. He played in the NFL in 1998, the NFL Europe in 1999, the Arena Football League from 2001-07, even the original and first iteration of the XFL back in 2001. He’s since coached in college, at Arizona, and in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.

In the XFL, Amey explained weeks before the suspension of the season, “everybody’s doing double duty, sometimes triple duty” because of the startup nature of the operation. (“In the NFL,” he added, “they have the financial backing to get more things done quicker.”) And yet everything about this league’s structure, from the creative broadcast decisions (live mics on countless coaches, players and officials) to the actual broadcast partners (“being on ESPN and Fox and national TV week in and week out”) contributed to a pervading belief that this XFL was more than capable of bringing the dreams of Devin Taylors and P.J. Walkers to life.

“I’ve had a few good buddies in college football, pro football, and they’ve had nothing but good things to say,” Amey said. “People are surprised. It’s a different feel, a different vibe here. There’e excitement in the air. The whole setup and the format has been well done. Are there little kinks to work out? Of course. But after every game, my phone’s blowing up.”

Now? All of those dreams — all of that excitement — has been put on hold.

Are we to pity pro athletes, coaches and league executives over those affected by the virus that’s basically put all of sports on pause? Are we to pity them over those who no doubt will be affected by COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months? No. A good portion of these XFL players have already gotten a taste of the pro spotlight. A handful of them have already made decent money doing so.

But just as many of them are like Walker or Ta’amu or Cam Phillips, the superstar Roughnecks wide receiver who spent 2019 out of football, or Kenny Robinson, the St. Louis BattleHawks safety who opted to overlook additional college eligibility to provide for his mother, who’d been diagnosed with cancer. All of these young men seemed to stumble upon the perfect home for a blossoming life and career, only to see it thrown in jeopardy. And that’s not accounting for the guys whose names you didn’t learn during the five-week 2020 season — the ones who may not get the same shot in 2021 even if the XFL returns.

In the grand scheme of things, sports are trivial. Football is trivial. But just like any other profession, there are livelihoods at stake.

There’s also a reason we come back to sports and, specifically, the gridiron every fall — or, in the case of the XFL, every spring. There’s an inherent sense of community there.

When the XFL kicked off less than a week after the Super Bowl this February, it may have been odd to see former Ohio State star Cardale Jones decked out in red, repping the nation’s capital with the DC Defenders. It may have been hard to root for any specific team knowing the majority of each club’s roster was full of players far less proven or talented than your average NFL Joe.

But a community still formed. Fans poured into NFL venues to watch XFL matchups. Walker’s highlights went viral. So, too, did stuff like New York Guardians QB Matt McGloin throwing his entire coaching staff under the bus.

For five weeks, the XFL lived and breathed. At worst, it offered an escape from the kind of big-picture issues that now dominate our headlines. At best, it served not only as “more football,” but a launching pad for the game’s next generation.

Its sudden disappearance, if not comparatively heartbreaking, at least reinforces the surrealism of a totally interrupted society.

There are, of course, also some silver linings.

Most notably, the abrupt end to the XFL’s season has reportedly triggered an early release of players to contracts with other leagues. In other words, someone like Walker or Taylor or Phillips could conceivably sign with an NFL team earlier than expected, and with 2020 free agency right around the corner, there might never be a better time for XFL standouts to get the promotion they’ve been seeking.

Perhaps even more importantly, everyone is now free to go home. Players. Coaches. Scouts. Fans. With everything on hiatus, there’s little else to do but that. On Friday, in fact, a day after the XFL’s big announcement, one team staffer told CBS Sports that one of the largest sentiments, after the initial disappointment of the news, was everyone being “ready to see loved ones.”

Maybe, at this time, that’s what we need most anyway.


XFL linebacker Brian Peters says he’s giving half his pay to coronavirus-related charities

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the XFL to cut its 2020 debut season short, but the upstart football league committed to giving players their base pay and benefits regardless. Houston Roughnecks linebacker Brian Peters is repaying the gesture by contributing half that money to charitable causes.

Truly a blessing for the XFL @xfl2020 & @XFLRoughnecks to honor our contracts. In an effort to give back I’ll be donating 1/2 my pay each week to support front line medical staff, food banks, & Coronavirus services #GiveBack #HelpAndSupportAreNotYoursToKeep #PeopleHelpingPeople

— Brian Peters (@brian_peters10) March 29, 2020
The first of Peters’ donations went to Frontline Responders Fund, which aims to provide supplies such as masks to medical professionals around the world. As of publication, more than 14,000 donors have contributed over $4,000,000 overall to the cause.

Peters starred at Northwestern University from 2008-11, where he earned All-Big Ten second-team honors as a junior and first-team honors as a senior. Despite his collegiate accolades, Peters went undrafted in 2012, then played one season in the Arena Football League and three in the Canadian Football League.

The Minnesota Vikings signed Peters in 2015, but the Houston Texans plucked him off their practice squad that September. Peters developed into a valuable special teamer for the Texans, recording 54 tackles over 51 games from 2015-18. In 2018, though, Houston cut Peters after he sustained a season-ending injury.

Peters’ professional career continued in Houston with the Roughnecks this season, and his team rolled to a 5-0 start before play was canceled. They had only five games regular-season games remaining until the playoffs.

The Northwestern alum’s football career is on hold, but his charitable contributions remain flowing. Peters’ Twitter bio reads “help and support are not yours to keep” and he’s living by that motto.


XFL suspends operations and lays off employees, currently has no plans to return in 2021, per report

The XFL already had a questionable future once it suspended its inaugural season after five games due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the league’s future seems to be in serious jeopardy.

Per ESPN’s Field Yates, the XFL is suspending day-to-day operations and all employees have been laid off. The league held a conference call to inform employees of the decision Friday with one employee telling NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero the term the league used was “shut down.”

The new XFL suspended play prior to Week 6 of its inaugural season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and canceled the season a week later. The league allowed its players to sign deals with NFL and Canadian Football League teams shortly after, and some of the league’s notable players reached deals with NFL teams in the following weeks.

Per Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal, the decision came less than 24 hours after the league gave fans back all money in their season ticket accounts, including deposits for 2021 season tickets. The league had plans to play a second season in 2021, but ESPN reported that the league currently has no plans to return.

The XFL was off to a solid start in its first season with interesting rule changes to the game, most notably the new kickoff rules and the league doing away with kicking for an extra point. The league had one, two and three-point conversions instead of an extra point try. The league averaged around 15,000 fans per home game, drawing strong crowds in some cities. It even handled an officiating gaffe consistently, the first true test of the league’s structure.

The coronavirus pandemic shut down an XFL that seemed financially stable, compared to the Alliance of American Football — which tried an attempt at a spring football league last year. The XFL took a massive hit from circumstances out of its control and, apparently, it could be over before Year 2.


XFL files for bankruptcy after shutting down operations because of the coronavirus

The XFL has filed for bankruptcy, putting a period on what has been an unexpected and difficult month for the start-up football league. The league made its filing Monday in Delaware, just days after it shut down operations and laid off its employees.

According to the filing, the league has between 1,000 and 5,000 creditors with assets and liabilities somewhere in the $10 million to $50 million range. One of the biggest creditors is Dallas Renegades coach Bob Stoops, who is owed more than $1 million from his contract with the XFL.

The league still intends to return all ticket sales to fans. The filing, as one would expect, is particularly hard on XFL mastermind Vince McMahon, who held a majority of the ownership shares in the league. As part of the bankruptcy filing, Austin Karp of the Sports Business Journal reports that the league is for sale.

The @XFL2020 declared bankruptcy in a filing today. Here’s the ownership structure:

— Vince McMahon had 100% of Class A shares
— He also had 76.5% of Class B shares. @WWE held the rest#SportsBiz

— Eben Novy-Williams (@novy_williams) April 13, 2020
The XFL effectively canceled its season a month ago when widespread concerns about COVID-19 forced the entire sports world on hiatus. Initially, the XFL was optimistic that it would be able to return for a full season in 2021 and it kept its full-time employees on payroll. However, with poor economic conditions and uncertainty about when anything will return to normal, the league was forced to shutter. As one source told CBS Sports last week, McMahon was prepared to fund the league for up to two years — he had sold off more than three million shares of stock in 2019 to help finance the operation — but funding the league in the middle of a pandemic was an unforeseen scenario and a completely different job.


Former XFL commissioner Oliver Luck sues Vince McMahon for wrongful termination

When Vince McMahon rebooted the XFL, one of his most important hires was commissioner Oliver Luck. With the XFL shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, McMahon finds himself at legal odds with Luck, who is suing his former boss for wrongful termination.

In a federal lawsuit filed last week in Connecticut, Luck claims that “Despite fulfilling his obligations as Commissioner and CEO since May 30, 2018, Mr. Luck was wrongfully terminated by Alpha Entertainment LLC (“Alpha”), an affiliate of Defendant, on April 9, 2020. Thus, Alpha has repudiated Mr. Luck’s employment agreement. Mr. Luck brings this action for breach of contract and declaratory judgment against McMahon.”

The XFL laid off practically all its employees on April 10, nearly one month after deciding to cancel the 2020 season six weeks into it. The league then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the following week, on April 13. Per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic, the lawsuit says that Alpha, in its bankruptcy motion, filed to have the court reject “Certain Executive Contracts.” In response, Luck’s complaint says that he “wholly disputes and rejects the allegations set forth in the Termination Letter and contends they are pretextual and devoid of merit,” suggesting Luck was fired with cause.

Luck, the father of former NFL star Andrew Luck, was reportedly on a $20 million deal and it’s possible he gets some, or all, of that through the bankruptcy filing, depending on the verbiage of his contract. However, Luck is taking legal action to at least try to ensure he recoups as much as possible.

By filing for Chapter 11, the XFL is leaving the door ever-so-slightly cracked that it could return. The league plans a sale by July 15, which would include the name, trademarks, intellectual property, equipment, etc. Whether anybody buys the league in this climate remains to be seen.


XFL, CFL to discuss collaboration between the two leagues to ‘innovate and grow’ game of football

The CFL and XFL hope to return at some point in the near future after COVID-19 wrecked their individual seasons in 2020. What that will look like remains to be seen, but the two leagues are entering into discussions to “identify potential opportunities … to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football.”

Exactly what these innovations and collaborations will yield remains to be seen, though there doesn’t appear to be any discussion of a merger. Each league has its own sets of rules, some of which were popular among fans. The XFL, for instance, tweaked kickoff rules to make it safer without making it a useless play. Shootout style overtime rules and the double forward pass were also well received.

The XFL was midway through its first season in nearly 20 years when the coronavirus pandemic halted operations and eventually bankrupted it. With the pandemic still raging throughout the summer, the CFL canceled its 2020 season. Under new ownership (i.e. The Rock), the XFL had hopes to debut — for a third time — as soon as 2022. But according to a statement from the league those efforts are “on hold” pending the outcome of its conversations with the CFL, which plans to return this year.

From @DanyGarciaCo, XFL Chairwoman and Owner:

— XFL (@XFL2022) March 10, 2021
Though these discussions don’t mean anything just yet, they represent a heartbeat for alternative pro football leagues. As we’ve seen with the XFL and the AAF before it, it doesn’t take much for these leagues to go belly up. At the same time, the demand for them, with niches for gambling and fantasy football, is impossible to ignore.


XFL, CFL put collaboration talks on hold, two leagues will not pursue formal working arrangement

The possibility of the Canadian Football League and the XFL forming a partnership has been put on ice. After releasing statements back in March revealing that the two leagues have entered formal talks to “identify potential opportunities for the leagues to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football” they have since announced those talks have been put on pause.

“Our talks with the XFL, exploring the potential for collaboration and innovation, have been positive and constructive,” the CFL said in a statement released on Wednesday. “While we remain open to finding new ways to work together in the future, we and our XFL counterparts have jointly decided to not pursue any formal arrangements at this time.

“We at the CFL are now squarely focused on preparing for Aug. 5 and the start of our 2021 regular season, which will culminate Dec. 12 with the playing of the 108th Grey Cup in Hamilton, Ontario. We are looking forward to this year and a bright future for our league.”

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Both leagues felt the wrath of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year and a half. The XFL was midway through its first season after nearly a 20-year hiatus, but stopped play due to the pandemic and eventually went bankrupt. They’ve since been taken over by new ownership headlined by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Talks of returning to play were originally put “on hold” as the conversations with the CFL unfolded but now the XFL aims to get back on the field in the spring of 2023.

“While our discussions with the CFL did not ultimately lead to a collaboration, the effort reinforced our belief and commitment to developing the XFL for international spring football,” the XFL said in a statement obtained by Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal. “We look forward to seeing everyone for kickoff in spring of 2023.”

As for the CFL, the pandemic forced the league to cancel its 2020 season.

While there may not be a collaboration between these two leagues right now, the CFL’s statement does leave a glimmer of hope for some sort of partnership down the road. For talks to spark back up again, however, it’ll likely take both leagues to actually get some games under their belt to set a better foundation when speaking of a possible marriage.