The Canadian Football League and the XFL are exploring a potential partnership as they seek to return to play in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The leagues announced Wednesday that they "have agreed to work together to identify opportunities for the leagues to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football," though they did not offer specifics about what such a patnership would entail.
The XFL also said it is putting its plans for the 2022 season on hold as discussions continue. The CFL canceled its 2020 season but is hoping to return to play June 10.
"It's clear through our early conversations that we share a passion for football, an expansive sense of possibility, and a deep desire to create more opportunity for players and fans across North America and around the world," XFL president and CEO Jeffrey Pollack said in a statement.
"Blending the CFL’s rich heritage with our fresh thinking, and the unique reach and experience of our ownership, could be transformative for the game."
A general view of the XFL logo on a sideline banner before an XFL football game between the Tampa Bay Vipers and the New York Guardians, on Feb. 9, 2020. (Photo: Steve Luciano, AP)
Officials indicated they are still in the early stages of the talks. And while details were scarce Wednesday, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie did mention his league's interest in the ability to "reach new audiences," while XFL chairwoman Dany Garcia stressed the importance of innovation.
"Jointly we recognize a great opportunity to build exciting innovative football experiences that make the most of each league's unique strengths," Garcia said in a statement.
The CFL has long been considered one of the top professional football leagues outside of the NFL, regularly attracting top undrafted players from the United States or serving as a launching pad for those hoping to reach the NFL.
The XFL also experienced moderate success in 2020 — its first season since relaunching — before shutting down in the wake of COVID-19.
Since the cancellation of its season, the XFL has since filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and been purchased for $15 million by a group of investors that includes Garcia, actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and RedBird Capital Partners. Johnson notably had a brief stint with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders in 1995 before becoming a professional wrestler.
Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.
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