XFL III Faces A Long Road Ahead 

History suggests the XFL III will fail.

The Rock, the one-time college football player turned wrestler turned actor, Dwayne Johnson, now owns the XFL along with his partners. The twice failed league will make a return in 2022 with Johnson hoping that the third time is a charm for the league. Johnson and his partners didn’t have to invest much in getting the league from a bankruptcy judge, just $15 million. Now comes the critical part. How do you reinvent the wheel? The 2020 version of the XFL and the 2019 Alliance of American Football did reasonably well out of the gate on TV when the league’s kicked off after the Super Bowl and then the ratings plummeted. As the weather got warmer, as other sports options multiplied on TV, the interest in the XFL and AAF dwindled. The third version of the XFL is coming back and faces a question that Johnson and his partners cannot answer. Will COVID-19 still be a problem in 2022? Established sports leagues cannot predict what sports will look like in 2021 much less 2022.

Assuming there is a COVID-19 vaccine and effective treatments and the XFL can resume safely, Johnson and his partners are staring at a long history of football league failures. Three American Football Leagues, the All America Football Conference, the Continental Football League and a string of alphabet leagues that includes the World Football League, the United States Football League, the Spring Football League that operated for a few games in 2000. The first attempt at spring football was the Trans-America Football League which operated for one season in 1971. The National Football League tried various incarnations of North American-European leagues then a European spring football league between 1991 and 2007. It failed. Some leagues never got past the here is our conceptual stage. History suggests the Rock-lead XFL III is doomed to fail.

Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback Aaron Murray warms up during practice at Plant City Stadium in Plant City, Florida on Wednesday, January 29, 2020.(Octavio Jones/Tampa Bay Times via AP)