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Dwayne Johnson heads up group purchasing the XFL

The Rock is cooking up a way to save the twice-failed football league.
Actor and former WWE Superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson said his love of football was one reason he looked into acquiring the XFL.
Actor and former WWE Superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson said his love of football was one reason he looked into acquiring the XFL. [ AP ]
Published Aug. 3, 2020
Updated Aug. 3, 2020

The XFL could get a third life thanks, in part, to The Rock.

The twice-failed professional football league owned by the WWE — which shut down operations due to the pandemic — is being bought by a group that includes former professional wrestler turned Hollywood star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Johnson, business partner Dany Garcia and investment firm RedBird Capital Partners were the winning bidders to purchase the assets of Alpha Entertainment, the XFL’s parent company, for $15 million. The transaction is pending bankruptcy court approval, but is expected to be completed around Aug. 21.

Related: Vipers, XFL couldn’t write their own script to end startup season

“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners ... is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things — my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” Johnson said in a statement. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”

The league, which included the Tampa Bay Vipers, lasted just five games, postponing its season March 12, then abruptly shutting down operations in April.

Shortly thereafter, the league filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing lists 25 entities with unsecured claims, three of which are Tampa Bay-based.

“We are grateful for today’s outcome,” said XFL president and chief operating officer Jeffrey Pollack in a statement. “This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and it is an exciting new chapter for the league. Dwayne, Dany and (RedBird founder) Gerry (Cardinale) are a dream team ownership group and the XFL is in the best possible hands going forward.”

Related: The Rock gets his name from his wrestler dad, who lived in Lutz

The XFL first run in 2001 coincided with the height of Johnson’s popularity as The Rock. In fact, he introduced fans to the league before the first game. Johnson also has a football background, playing at the University of Miami.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.