“It Is Our Goal To Make Football More Accessible To More Players” | The Rock Bringing XFL Showcase To Jackson State

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 26: Actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson speaks onstage during CinemaCon 2022 - Warner Bros. Pictures “The Big Picture” Presentation during CinemaCon 2022 at Caesars Palace on April 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

In a very short time, Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders has turned a once dormant Jackson State football program into the place to be.

The latest to get in on this newfound success is none other than former Miami Hurricanes football player, pro wrestling megastar and movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The Johnson purchased the XFL in 2020 for $15 million from his WWE boss Vince McMahon. With the league scheduled to make its debut under Johnson’s leadership in 2023, he’s laying the groundwork to find some of the hidden gems who are looking for other options if the NFL doesn’t work out.

This week those efforts took shape when the XFL announced a series of talent showcases to be held on July 16, and Jackson State will be one of the venues.

“These showcases are an incredible opportunity for passionate players to show up and ball out for a chance to join the XFL,” Johnson said in a May 5 statement. “The XFL is all about being at the intersection of dreams and opportunity.

“It is our goal to make football more accessible to more players, and our highly experienced team of coaches and personnel directors are ready to help make these professional football dreams come true. The door is open for elite talent across the country to join the XFL – including my home state of Hawai’i. I’m looking forward to seeing these players bringing their best and leaving it all out on the field.”

 

 

Bringing an HBCU showcase to Jackson State is a brilliant idea, considering the visibility and exposure HBCUs are receiving since Sanders arrived in September 2020.

XFL President Russ Brandon:

“We are ready to discover and evaluate seasoned athletes looking to compete in a dynamic, fast-paced game and grow professionally with the XFL. Our football operations team continues to gain momentum and our head coaches are eager to seek fresh talent for our 2023 season. This will be an exciting summer ahead, and I’m looking forward to seeing the turnout at all of our events.”

 They’ll also be showcases in Maryland, Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

 

 

Johnson’s business partner and league co-owner Dany Garcia spoke:

 

“Our intentional showcase locations, such as Jackson State, one of the largest HBCUs in the country, and our Hawaii Showcase in Honolulu, are direct reflections of our XFL core values of diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility. As an organization and league we will continue to push the boundaries and unlock new opportunities to advance the game of football.”

 

Sanders Wanted More Opportunities: Visibility And Exposure Seem To Be Working

While last week’s NFL draft saw just four players drafted from HBCUs, it was four more than 2021 and three more than 2020. Many others signed undrafted free agent deals with teams, and that’s a direct result of pro days, an inaugural HBCU Combine and face-to-face meetings with teams.

Things many HBCU players didn’t have access to until this season. That’s why bringing an XFL Showcase to an HBCU campus is a huge deal, it can only help further the movement of seeing players from those institutions have a chance to play beyond the college game.

 

 

While everyone isn’t cut out to play in the NFL, a league like the XFL could help those players develop into pro players.

In reality it’s another developmental outlet for those players and others who aren’t fortunate to land on one of the 32-team, 53-man NFL rosters.

 

XFL Debuted In 2001: Lasted Only Inaugural Season

In it’s initial season the league did well, even had some games with strong ratings. But that viewership quickly dwindled as it seemed as if Vince McMahon was trying to incorporate too much of the WWE tactics into the game. The league became a tad bit fake and gimmicky, and that didn’t sit well with viewers who in turn tuned it out.

 

 

McMahon originally announced the return of the league in January 2020. After five pretty successful weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic killed that notion. In April 2020, the XFL filed for bankruptcy.