Federal Regulators Approve XFL-USFL Merger as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Spring Football League Gears Up for 2024 Season Opener on March 30th.nguyen01

And just like that, the United States has one fewer spring football league.

Federal regulators on Thursday approved the merger of the Dwayne Johnson-owned XFL and its springtime rival, the USFL. The combined league will debut on March 30, although details about the organization remain unclear.

XFL chief executive Russ Brandon will serve as the leading executive of the new venture, according to a report on Thursday in Sports Business Journal.

‘We are pleased to have completed the antitrust review process in connection with the proposed merger of the XFL and USFL and intend to play a combined season this spring kicking off on Saturday, March 30,’ the two leagues said in a statement.

‘We are now finalizing terms of the definitive agreement and will share more about this new League in the coming weeks.’

Madre London #9 of the Pittsburgh Maulers during the 2023 USFL Championship Game

Dwayne The Rock Johnson hypes up the crowd before an XFL game in February

A giant flag is stretched across the field during the national anthem prior to a USFL game

It is not yet known how many teams will participate in the joint format. Each league had eight teams in 2023.

Other details including the league’s name, broadcast rights and player contract terms are still being negotiated.

The XFL and USFL announced plans to merge in September.

The USFL re-launched in 2022 with backing from Fox Sports. The XFL returned in 2020 and has since been acquired by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and business partner Dany Garcia.

The XFL was originally launched by WWE CEO Vince McMahon and NBC in 2001, but folded after one season of spring football.

McMahon spent $200 million restarting the league for the 2020 season, according to his attorneys.

Although a whopping 3 million viewers tuned in for the first week of 2020, the audience was about half that size five weeks later when play stopped due to the pandemic.

 

Defenders fans ‘feed the snake’ during the inaugural XFL Championship in May

The league went bankrupt in April of 2020, leading to a legal battle between McMahon and XFL commissioner Oliver Luck, who filed a $23.8 million wrongful termination lawsuit against the wrestling mogul.

In his lawsuit, Luck attached part of his agreement, signed by McMahon, that ‘irrevocably and unconditionally’ guaranteed his $20 million salary.

McMahon claimed Luck was fired for cause, but ultimately relented and negotiated a settlement totaling $24 million.

The USFL relaunched in 2022, four decades after the spring football league’s short-lived run that featured such gridiron stars as Reggie White, Herschel Walker, Steve Young, Jim Kelly and future president Donald Trump.

The original XFL’s standout star was Rod Smart had ‘He Hate Me’ emblazoned on his uniform

Donald Trump and Herschel Walker worked together with the USFL’s New Jersey Generals

Steve Young of the USFL’s LA Express in 1985

The original USFL was launched in 1983, but crumbled after three seasons because of out-of-control spending and an ill-conceived push by Trump, owner of the New Jersey Generals, to compete directly against the NFL with a fall season.

In the end, the USFL’s most enduring legacy was the $3 judgment it ‘won’ in an antitrust suit against the NFL, a ruling that finished off the league in 1986 before it carried out a Trump-backed move from spring to fall.

‘There’s no question everybody appreciated him coming into the league at the time,’ Canadian businessman and owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits John Bassett told Esquire in 2016. ‘They needed New York to succeed. Everybody really respected what he was doing in that second year of the league.

‘What caused tension was [Trump] began pushing the tape, saying we needed to be playing in the fall, we have to go for it. Some of the other owners in different markets said we need to stay in the spring, that they had too many guns in the NFL. To some degree, both were right.’

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