CFL Twitter is heating up and this weekend’s double-header is yet to even begin.
Montreal Alouettes owner Gary Stern has been learning the social media rope as a fan engagement tool and now that he has a fresh profile picture, went on a CFL tweeting spree Saturday. Stern’s authenticity online has been met with praise from many fans but one post, in particular, caught the attention of another CFL owner.
Seeking to kick start his online following, Stern turned to XFL owner Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson for inspiration, asking fans to help him reach that level of influence.
“I am told The Rock has about 15 million followers and he promotes and owns the XFL. I only need another 14,920,000 followers,” Stern posted, finishing with a laughing emoji and two prayer signs. “CFL followers and Alouettes, can you get me there by Thursday’s home opener?”
Stern, whose growing following currently sits at just over a thousand people, has a long way to go before he can reach Johnson’s level of fame. The international superstar turned wannabe football mogul is among the most followed personalities on the planet, currently boasting 16.2 million on Twitter alone.
That didn’t stop Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young, known by fans as the team’s caretaker, from chastizing Stern for not thinking big enough.
“You are aiming much too low,” he replied with a wink emoji. “If The Rock can get to 15m followers for his bankrupt league, you and I should be at 30m!”
The jest was all in good fun amongst the CFL’s business elite but the choice of the target had deeper implications for fans of the league.
After Johnson, his business partner Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital purchased the bankrupt XFL for $15 million, the CFL announced they were working towards a potential collaboration with the league in March of 2021. Though talks fells apart three months later, some amongst the CFL’s board of governors remain upset that a merger did not take place, most notably MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum.
Stern has close ties to Tanenbaum and was seen as another potential supporter of the XFL deal as a result. After The Rock took to Twitter a week ago to praise Tanenbaum for his support in collaborative talks, Stern also jumped to his friend’s defence, calling him “a great visionary for sports in general.”
While Young was vocal about staying open-minded to any potential partnership between the two leagues, he was not viewed as an XFL supporter. The caretaker put out a statement following the league’s announcement of talks, saying the Ticats focus remained on returning to the field after the pandemic.
Bankrupt no longer, the XFL is currently planning to launch their third iteration in February of 2023. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was tagged in the Twitter conversation but has not yet issued a response.