The CFL and XFL have entered into formal conversations regarding potential future collaboration and nobody is more excited than June Jones.
The former head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats turned head coach of the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks believes a full merger between the two leagues is a realistic possibility and could be a positive for both countries.
“I think it benefits the CFL and I think it benefits the American viewers down here. I think it’s TV related, I believe that’s why they’re considering it now,” Jones told listeners of The Drive on TSN 1200 in Ottawa Thursday.
“Of course, the CFL needs to generate some revenues because they were way more dependent on the tickets ticket sales and concessions and parking than any other league was. So I’m kind of thinking it has a real possibility of happening.”
That type of full-scale amalgamation between the two leagues would come with massive changes to the unique rules of the Canadian game. The larger Canadian field doesn’t fit in most American stadiums and fans south of the border are much more comfortable with the four down version.
“Those are the things that have to be overcome, but since they’re obviously having serious negotiations, there’s got to be a push or the ability to address some of those things,” Jones said.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what happens on that. Will it be three down football or four down football? I think probably it’s going to be four down football with maybe the Canadian [motion] rules coming into play, which will be a totally offensive league.”
That would still be a much different game than Americans are used to, but the rise of legal sports gambling — including it’s imminent legalization in Canada — alleviates much of those concerns.
“Being able to bet on the game while you are at the game, betting on plays, spending on runs and passes, I mean, the game will be learned because of the gambling app,” Jones explained. “I know the NFL’s real close to looking at that. The CFL I think realizes it’s a revenue generator.”
Ultimately though, TV is still king and the real money will come from the type of TV deal that a star of The Rock’s caliber can attract. While attendance wasn’t stellar in most XFL cities in 2020, the TV numbers remained promising.
“We could see the TV ratings on Fox and ESPN and ABC were over and above the NBA and Major League Baseball for that slot. The advertisers know that, everybody knows that and the key is going to be a successful TV contract,” Jones said.
“I know that The Rock is the number one NBC player right now. I’m sure they’re in negotiations already or already have it somewhat done with probably NBC and the NFL.”
TV wasn’t enough for the second-coming of the XFL to survive the rising pandemic however and Dwayne Johnson, ex-wife turned business partner Dany Garcia, and financial backer RedBird Capital purchased the bankrupt league for just $15 million at auction.
Now they are desperate to carve out a legacy as the first since the AFL to make a second major pro football league work in the United States. The CFL appears to have a role to play in that vision and June Jones believes that if any one can bring the two entities together, it’s The Rock.
“I think The Rock is a real innovator. He wants it to be different. He wants it to have a little different look to it just like Vince McMahon did,” Jones said.
“I think all the players are involved that I think it can be pulled off.”
No word yet on whether he thinks Johnny Manziel would be the greatest player in the history of this new league as well.