With the new United States Football League cranking up in 10 days and even Major League Football – which I thought had been declared legally dead – showing a pulse in recent weeks, the third incarnation of the XFL has remained mostly low key in 2022.
That changed today when XFL 3.0, set to play again in 2023, unveiled its rebrand. There was no red meat for fans in the way of city names or coach announcements, but there is a new logo and a sizzle real that teases what’s to come when the league joins the spring football wars next February.
“We are proud to unveil the new identity of the XFL – a strong, dynamic and modern look that embodies our vision of pushing football forward and unleashing the dreams that football makes possible,” Dany Garcia, co-owner and chairwoman of the XFL, said in a release. “This is a significant milestone for us, and one that encapsulates the teamwork that has gone into building this league from the ground up with our experienced leadership team, led by Russ Brandon. As we continue to march towards our 2023 kickoff, we will invite our fans, partners and athletes to co-create with us. We are putting in the work today to define football’s future; Together, we are building tomorrow’s league.”
The logo was leaked Tuesday night and quickly generated buzz – see Twitter for the “I love it!” and “I hate it!” testimonials – but as long as people are talking about it, that’s a good thing for Garcia and co-owners Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Redbird Capital Partners.
“For us, this is more than just a new pro football logo; this is a new era of the XFL,” Johnson said. “You can already begin to feel the energy and mana building behind our brand, and it has been amazing to feel the incredible support from fans, players, coaches and media, that we continue to be blessed with. We have a passion and vision to push the boundaries of sport and entertainment, to grow the game of football – and most importantly – unlock the dreams of all the talented and hungry football players out there. “I’m pumped to reveal our new XFL logo to the world as we continue to strategically build our XFL organization and shape our one-of-a-kind XFL culture.
“Here’s the bottom line of what our new XFL logo stands for: The X represents the intersection of dreams and opportunity. So, to our hungry XFL players, coaches and fans – you bring the dreams, and we’ll bring the opportunity.”
Based on that, you can kinda/sorta see what they were going for with the separated “X” in the logo. (To me the X looks like a “greater than” symbol about to collide with a “less than” symbol, but I doubt it’s part of a Rorschach Test so I should stop overthinking it).
Regardless of your opinion of the rebrand, what’s important is what happens between now and the scheduled launch in 10 months.
And while it was hardly earthshaking, the news coming out of the new XFL brings back personal memories of the other two.
The first version in 2001 originally appealed to me because the Birmingham Bolts were one of the eight teams that made up Vince McMahon’s league. But the play was sloppy, the TV presentation was sleazy, and Birmingham was far and away the worst team in the league. On my end, there was not a lot to like.
When it folded after a one-and-done campaign I felt bad for the people who lost their jobs, but as a fan I didn’t care because I had already lost interest in it.
But the 2020 version was much, much better, even though Birmingham wasn’t on board.
The rule innovations were terrific, the games I watched were entertaining, and it seemed to be doing everything a spring league needs to do to make a go of it. But then COVID-19 hit, the season was canceled at the halfway point, and McMahon pulled the plug.
It failed again, but for very different reasons than the original.
While the new owners certainly want to put their stamp on the XFL – and it’s their league now, so they should certainly do that – I hope they’ll incorporate the many positive aspects of the 2020 adaptation.
“Since acquiring the League in 2020 with Dany and Dwayne, we have envisioned the XFL as a platform of opportunity that converges the worlds of sports and entertainment,” Gerry Cardinale, founder of RedBird Capital, said. “We are building the XFL so that we can bring new possibilities to the future of football – this will give our players new opportunities for turning pro, our partners new platforms to expand and enhance their brands, and our fans opportunities to engage with the sport of football and our players in new and innovative ways.”