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XFL announces collaboration with NFL on rules, player development in 2023

Matt Johnson
XFL, NFL
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The XFL plans to return in 2023 with a new season and a new collaboration with the National Football League could be its most crucial step towards success.

In a statement released Monday, the XFL announced it is partnering with the NFL on a collaboration to expand football and innovate the game. The partnership between the two football leagues will focus on increased opportunities for player development along with an emphasis on innovations in health and safety for players.

As part of the pact, the rebooted league will test out player surfaces and implement new rules to determine the influence they have on player safety. This comes in light of the NFL considering changes to the kickoff and receiving strong feedback from players to move from turf fields to natural grass.

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 “We are extremely pleased to collaborate with the NFL in these important areas. 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.”

Dany Garcia, co-owner and Chairwoman of XFL

Garcia and celebrity Dwayne Johnson bought the league for $15 million in 2020. Initially, the group targeted a return in 2022. However, a desire to either partner with the NFL or CFL and an emphasis on long-term success resulted in a new target date of February 2023.

Vince McMahon tried to bring the XFL back a few years ago, relaunching the league in the spring of 2020 with relative success. Unfortunately, things took a turn when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The league suspended its season just five weeks in due to the coronavirus and later closed operations then filed for bankruptcy.

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With McMahon out of the picture, ESPN backed out of its broadcasting partnership with the league. When Johnson and Garcia taking over, FOX Sports emerged with a serious interest in broadcasting future XFL games before it signed a deal with the USFL.

The NFL confirmed its partnership in a statement.

“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.”

Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations

While the USFL will kick off its inaugural season this year, the XFL’s partnership with the NFL makes it far more viable for sustained success. While this deal doesn’t mean the NFL has a new league for player development, it is still a significant agreement for the future of football.