Johnson and business partner Dany Garcia aim to open XFL training camps in January 2023. The partnership with the NFL does not involve games or teams specifically but is an agreement to work together in studying the game of football and collaborating on “forward-thinking physical and mental fitness programs for players,” per a joint press release issued Monday.
“We are extremely pleased to collaborate with the NFL in these important areas,” said Garcia, who is XFL co-owner and chairwoman. “We are bringing forward an XFL that is progressive and forward-thinking when it comes to innovation, leveraging the newest technology to enhance gameday experience. We have an open field for innovative rules to enhance in-game access. Sharing insights and practices between the XFL and NFL will do a tremendous amount of good for the game of football and support the player ecosystem overall.”
The XFL and NFL suggested they may also work together in the future develop best practices for international scouting, officiating and safety rules for players.
“The XFL has shown us that innovation is one of its core principles. We are hopeful that this relationship will support further development and improvements in the game of football at all levels,” said Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive VP of football operations.
Johnson, a former college football star who first made his name as WWE’s The Rock, acquired the defunct XFL league from WWE owner Vince McMahon for $15 million in 2020.
McMahon launched the XFL in 2000 in partnership with NBC as a bid to add more edge to the action on the gridiron. But XFL operations shuttered after one season. In 2018, McMahon moved to revive the XFL. But its relaunch in February 2020 was cut short by the pandemic, and by April of that year, the XFL filed for bankruptcy protection.
Last month, Johnson and Garcia began to rev up marketing for “road to 2023” as the XFL prepares to return. The pair are billing the XFL as “a league of opportunity for all” at a time with the NFL is again under scrutiny for the lack of diversity among the league’s owners and top managers and coaches.
(Pictured: Dwayne Johnson)