Star CFL quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell wants the three-down league to realize its full potential, even if it means partnering with the XFL.
The owners of both leagues have agreed to work together to identify opportunities for innovating and growing the game of football. The Rock has stated he’s excited for the ‘unique opportunity’ the CFL and XFL ‘can potentially create together.’
“You get The Rock on one side and you possibly get Drake on the other. He’s probably got some connections to big names that would be willing to be on his side as well. I can understand it ruffles some feathers of people that have seen this game for so long, and not wanting to see it change, and I completely agree,” Mitchell told host Donnovan Bennett on The Waggle podcast.
“I love this game, I don’t want to see it change, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t get better. It doesn’t mean that the business side can’t get helped by someone who knows what he’s doing, who has a love for the CFL, who has a connection to the CFL, the history of it, a guy that was here with Doug Flutie at one point.”
Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital were selected as the winning bidders last August for all of the assets of Alpha Entertainment LLC, the parent company of the XFL. It cost $15 million and the goal is to make the XFL a stable league in the future, which could be aided by an agreement with the CFL.
“If you get a big name like The Rock on the other side, you get eight, nine teams down there, nine teams up here, and you can start to mimic how the NFL became the NFL. I’m not saying that we’re going to get there, but they had two leagues join together that created the NFL,” Mitchell said.
“That’s what you’re looking at as a possibility here. The cross-country viewership starts to help out both sides, if they get a big TV deal, we get a big TV deal. And now we’re getting Americans watching our game even more, and they’re getting Canadians to watch their game even more.”
The original XFL lasted one full season in 2001 and lasted just part of one season before the COVID-19 pandemic put their 2020 season on hold, which led to Vince McMahon filing for bankruptcy and selling to Johnson, Garcia, and RedBird Capital. Meanwhile, the Grey Cup has been awarded for over 100 years in Canada.
“A lot of the long time fans are resistant to change when it comes to our league, and I absolutely understand that. It’s been around for a very long time and it has stood the test of time. I understand their thought process that even though things are tough right now that we will stand the test of time again, and I agree with that,” Mitchell said.
“That doesn’t mean that this relationship with the XFL might not be a part of that. I want to continue to see the game expand and grow in a way that is not like, ‘Oh, let’s just survive, I want to thrive.’ I want to see this game get bigger, get better, that’s my personal vision, you don’t have to agree with what I say.”
Part of the XFL’s assets include a quickly-developed social media presence, the XFL 2022 Twitter account has 351,000 followers compared to the CFL’s 293,000. Also, the league was able to post respectable TV ratings, especially considering it was essentially a first-year league, on major American networks ESPN, ABC, and FOX.
“You start to get viewership cross-country, you start to get gambling going on, you get more money into the game. All of a sudden, myself or Mike Reilly or Trevor Harris or Brandon Banks is playing for Houston or Seattle or Dallas. You start getting guys moving across the country playing for different teams,” Mitchell said.
“That’s my personal thought, I’m not privy to any other information than anybody else is, they are keeping it very close and tight to the chest, just as they should. I would say just don’t be so resistant to listening to the opportunity and what might present itself without having to completely change our game.”
The 2022 XFL season has been put on hold, meanwhile the CFL is attempting to put football on the field in 2021. `