The NFL and XFL announced a partnership on Monday in which the two leagues will collaborate on innovation programs involving rules changes, equipment developments and health and safety initiatives, per an NFL press release.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, one of the XFL league owners, posted a video on Twitter celebrating the new deal.
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Exciting time in football as our @XFL2023 will join forces with the @NFL to collaborate on innovation opportunities to expand & grow the game of football.
As an XFL owner, my #1 priority will always be the players.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) February 21, 2022
The XFL is slated to return in February 2023. Under the partnership, the XFL will function as a sort of “petri dish” for the NFL to experiment with, XFL president Russ Brandon said to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.
“People would ask, ‘What are the opportunities to look at the game through a different lens from a player development standpoint?’” Brandon said. “‘How can you be an incubator or an accelerant in many different verticals, from officiating to rules innovations to playing surfaces, to player development?‘ You can go on and on. Any opportunity that the NFL has to advance the game of football, I think they’ve always been open to, and we’ve had some really good dialogue, led by our ownership group.”
The XFL originally launched in 2001 and lasted just one season before being revived in ’18. It made its return to the field in ’20 before ceasing operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The XFL says its focus will be on health and safety advancements in its new iteration.
“The XFL has shown us that innovation is one of its core principles,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said in a statement. “We are hopeful that this relationship will support further development and improvements in the game of football at all levels.”