‘Why would you attach yourself to a failing league like that?’: Charleston Hughes doubts existence of XFL fans

Charleston Hughes excels at two things: sacking quarterbacks and producing sound bites.

With the 2021 CFL season still a month and a half away from kickoff, he was up to the latter during an appearance on The Rod Pedersen Show on Tuesday. In typical fashion, the CFL’s leading active sack-master refused to bite his tongue when a fan write-in question made reference to followers of the XFL.

“Are there XFL fans?” Hughes wondered aloud. “How can there be fans when there is no league? Like who do you root for?”

Host Rod Pedersen attempted unsuccessfully to convince the new Toronto Argonauts defensive end that unlike the Loch Ness monster or the mythical Sasquatch, these individuals do exist, but Hughes remained undeterred.

As talks between the twice-resurrected league and the CFL continue, with rumours of a merger hanging over the season, the 12-year veteran made clear he wasn’t buying into the prevailing narrative.

“Man, I think it was just hype. I don’t think it’s going to happen and if it happens, it’s gonna be far down the road. I just don’t see why you would bring a failing league to the CFL when we’ve had a lot of success for a long time,” Hughes said.

“We’ve been a strong league for the most part over the last decade or even century. So it’s like, why would you attach yourself to a failing league like that?”

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.’

Star quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell made headlines earlier this month when he backed an alignment between the two leagues, saying it could help the CFL ‘thrive.’ His friend and former teammate disagrees whole-heartedly, just one more reason Hughes has to get after his favourite quarterback to sack.

Dwayne “The Rock” 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 arrangement with the CFL.

The original XFL lasted one full season in 2001 and 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 Garcia, Johnson, and RedBird Capital.

Garcia has confirmed non-disclosure agreements are in place and being adhered to as the XFL and CFL work on “innovation” for the future, with most believing the American league will not be a factor until 2023. However, recent comments that the XFL is “months away” from launch have kept that timeline vague.

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