Inside the Downfall of the XFL

ESPN Daily


XFL was supposed to be the league that can finally make spring football work with financial backing from WWe's Vince McMahon in veteran leadership from commissioner Oliver Luck. The idea seemed promising. But just five weeks in Copen, nineteen forced the xfl hit pause, and then unlike other leaks. It announced it was shutting down for good. Today the inside story of why the xfl closed doors, and whether it could have been saved. I'M UNICOM'S IT's Tuesday June sixteenth. This is espn daily presented by marathon. Shaken. What's Shakin what she can not much some to you're talking to you Kevin Siefert writes about the NFL and the xfl for ESPN. So Kevin the last time you and I talked was to preview the xfl so excited about this new league time the rules and how funding would be, and whether it would work, and while sadly, we are gathered here today to autopsy the xfl the. League officially suspended their operations on April tenth season quote the uncertainty of the current environment, obviously referencing the corona virus pandemic. What was it like inside the League on that day? It was pretty wild. Actually talked to Kurt unsecure. WHO's the president of the Saint? Louis? Battle. Hawks and he heard some rumors he had wondered if the League would. Need to cut back in some way like many businesses, but he at most thought there might be some layoffs or potentially some furloughs, but when he woke up that morning. Like many other xfl employees he saw the. Direct deposit from. His pay. Was much larger than normal. Anyone who's ever worked in an office setting or a for a company of any kind knows that on your last day you get a paycheck for your salary, and also for any occasion time accumulated, and that's what that's. What happened here and that was really the first sign that he occurred hunziker or anybody. Really who worked for the xfl knew that not only were some changes about to happen, but. Some really ominous events were about the Kerr that day. And they found out. There was a going to be an all company conference. Call at about noon. And that's where they were informed that everyone who works for the League was terminated. Kevin Win all that down. The XFL was on hold like pretty much everything else right I mean the pandemic hit a sports world back in March when the NBA system. It's season. WWe Closes headquarters in Stamford Connecticut days later then on March. Twentieth six fell big flat out of their season, and said we look forward to playing full seasons for you, and with you in twenty twenty one, so it seemed like at the time the plan wasn't afford the league entirely, but just hit pause. Pick up when the pandemic was over. Why do you think they thought they could keep going back then? I think they they felt pretty good that in the five weeks at the season had managed to get through they had. Gone a long way. Towards proving the concept they had pulled in about twenty million league revenues, and they're projecting forty six million through the rest of the year. They're TV. Ratings had dipped, but they were about to go on a run of having most of their games, either on ABC or Fox and so, that would probably at least stabilized the ratings, and they thought that they would have for the first time since they had started building the league time to really sit down, pull apart their thoughts and come up with a better product, the following year Vince McMahon who the owner of the League he had pulled almost four hundred million dollars out of WWe stocks into his personal account to finance. Really for two or three years, and so they knew the money was there, he had put up about two hundred million, and was committed to paying another hundred and fifty million a year for a few years. Until they could potentially get the profitability, so there was. A lot of confidence that the money existed to continue subsidizing the League in that long term plan would not be sacrificed just because the season had to end more abruptly than they had hoped. I didn't know that so the xfl Vince McMahon rather was using wwe money to fund the XFL. Right away you know Vincent Man's the owner of w w well early state, the founder and the CEO, and so he had lots of stock, and so he used that stock eventually to fund the XFL. There was a division, a financial and business division, but you know there was also a shared services agreement between the two. Certainly the way they were able to recruit coaches and front office people and even the Commissioner Oliver luck the way they were able to convince people to come aboard was the show them the plan the financial plan that he had to spend money over the over those three years, there was public documents. That showed that the stock had been sold in that the money was now. In Vincent. Man's hands to fund the XFL and that's why they they felt so good about it. So the xfl like every other sport announces. Hey, we're going on pause. Then a couple of weeks pass. What was the state of play at the beginning of April? Really at the beginning of April the XFL was in off season mode. Oliver Lock. WHO's the commissioner had been asked to come up with twenty, twenty, one I jets. He had asked all the department has all the team presidents to come up with plans to market the teams throughout the long off season. That was to come. Everything was in the XFL. Offices were being directed towards this twenty twenty one season and a lot of times towards the twenty twenty two seasons well, they were looking ahead, saying okay, here's what we want to do in twenty twenty one. We WanNa make it better, and this is what we want and twenty twenty two, and then then we look to see if we can be profitable and this was all going on really. Really, in between the time, the xfl canceled season, and when it shuttered and had bankruptcy, and so those plans were all compiled, and I'll reluctant demand to Vince McMahon, and then they didn't hear anything. They didn't hear anything back, and they thought maybe it was because Wrestlemainia was going on. People had their attention there, but that was something that caused a little bit of unease as the second week of April arrived and that. They've been asked to create these budgets. And then there have been radio silence. So Oliver Overlook. Who was commissioner of the XFL also Andrew looks father for those who don't know and has been a sports executive for years used to NFL Europe who's an executive with the NCWA? He's going about his business. Assuming the league's going to come back putting together some plans, and then what happens. And then he gets a call or actually gets a letter on April ninth stating that he had been fired for cause and the letter came from. Vincent man and from the his attorney listing supposed. Infractions to his contract into his duties that Oliver Luck had apparently committed in his response, Oliver Luck in his legal papers, said he had never been told of any of these issues, but on April Ninth I, think about five o'clock is when Oliver Luck found out, he'd been fired. So what elect do? You know he is already in his home. In Indianapolis, the xfl offices were closed, and so he immediately got with his lawyer. Because when you get fired, because usually that can mean that the guarantee in your contract is no longer valid, and so he has sued for wrongful termination, not only disputing the reasons that Vince McMahon fired him which among other reasons, whereas the use of company cell phone for personal reasons which. Many people in the xfl on in the public to be an awfully little bit of a petty, and that's not even editorializing. It's just a fact. You know petty reason to fire sports commissioner WHO's making. Between five and seven million dollars a year, and so he not only is disputing the facts of what was in the latter, his termination letter, but also that the xfl never gave him the thirty days. That's required in his contract to correct any issues that ownership is having, and so that is currently playing out in court. We'll see who wins on that or whether there is some kind of negotiation that occurs, but at the moment Oliver Luck seeking twenty three point eight million dollars from Vince McMahon, who can fill the contract that he signed in two thousand, eighteen to be the commissioner of the xfl.

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