TSN’s James Duthie sees two very different perceptions of the XFL discussions in Canada

Photo courtesy: TSN

TSN host James Duthie always has a great feel for the pulse of the latest happenings in sports around Canada.

And Duthie sees two distinct views of the discussions between the CFL and XFL.

“There’s a Toronto perception of this, and then there’s the rest of the country perception of this. Toronto’s like, ‘Ah cool, The Rock’s going to come in, the CFL will be cool again,'” Duthie said on the Rubber Boots podcast.

“Where the CFL matters, the three downs matter, everything matters — places like Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, and Alberta, they’re not going to accept this well if suddenly it’s gone, and it’s just four downs, and it’s the XFL and we’re playing the San Antonio Titans or whatever.”

The most recent incarnation of the XFL lasted just five games before the COVID-19 pandemic put their season on hold. That led to Vince McMahon filing for bankruptcy and selling to Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital, which manages over $5 billion in assets.

“The CFL possibly teaming up with the XFL, I’m not sure about this idea. It might be the only way to financially survive,” Duthie said. “This may be the only way the CFL feels like it can survive if it’s doing this.”

The CFL was wracked by its own financial struggles from the coronavirus, losing between $60 and $80 million last year. The XFL’s cheque book could solve that problem, but potentially at the cost of many of the league’s hallmarks.

“You can’t have two divisions, and one plays three down and four downs and then have a championship — the game’s are so different, too hard to do,” Duthie said.

The Rock has stated he’s excited for the ‘unique opportunity’ the CFL and XFL ‘can potentially build together. Being creative could be the key to success if the merger between the two leagues happens.