Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced on Sunday that the spring football league created in a merger between the XFL and USFL will be rebranded as the United Football League — dropping “Xtreme” and “States” from each of their names, respectively. They will kick things off with the first game on March 30.
Johnson made the announcement with his fellow league co-owner and longtime film producing partner, ex-wife Dany Garcia, on Fox’s NFL pregame show. Johnson and Garcia, along with RedBird Capital Partners, had purchased the XFL for $15 million from Johnson’s former WWE boss Vince McMahon after the latter’s attempt to revive the league in 2020 was foiled by the COVID-19 pandemic, ending the season abruptly.
Johnson said on Fox that he believed there’s an appetite for a spring football league not only among fans, but players who want to prove they are worthy of playing in the NFL if they didn’t get noticed by scouts while playing in college. That was Johnson’s own background before pivoting from Canadian football into pro wrestling as “The Rock.”
“I think in the UFL … these players are going to play hard-nosed, intense football, passionate football,” Johnson said. “You tell them you’ve got one more shot in the UFL and then to go on to the NFL potentially, how do you think they’ll play? They’re going to ball out.”
The UFL will bring the broadcast partners from both of the merging leagues — ESPN/ABC for the XFL, Fox/FS1 for the USFL — together for the upcoming season. Ross Brandon, former CEO for the XFL, will serve the same role for the UFL, while USFL will bring over its head of football operations, Daryl Johnston.
“Fox is football, and the success of the USFL has proven that there’s a bright future for spring football,” Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks said in a statement. “The opportunity to bring together our two leagues — each with a commitment to advancing broadcast practices, rule innovations and the community — only furthers the potential of the United Football League and solidifies its spot on the sports calendar.”
“The United Football League, a powerful combination of the XFL and USFL, will provide passionate sports fans with an entertaining, innovative and action-packed season,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro added. “With compelling storytelling across traditional and digital platforms, fan-friendly innovations and tremendous reach, this visionary league is well-positioned, and we look forward to our continued collaboration.”
“This new venture is possible because of a shared visionary mindset, a profound passion for the game and first-hand experience living and creating the opportunities that football makes possible,” added Garcia. “As a unified spring league, we are able to deepen our commitment to unlocking and surpassing the dreams of our players, coaches, staff and fans. This league represents continued legacy and evolution, and we look forward to building the universe of spring football.”
Watch Johnson’s announcement in the clip above.