Patience is a virtue, and that certainly has been the case with the XFL since being purchased by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Redbird Capital back in August of 2020.
After the new owners bought the league, they essentially went silent for the majority of the time since, with the exception of talks with the CFL (which didn’t lead to much).
However, it was obvious that the league was making moves, they were simply being processed behind the scenes. Thankfully, the XFL has finally come public with a handful of hires, as they now have a President along with a solid group of leaders.
Let’s take a look at who the XFL has brought into the fold, starting at the top, with Russ Brandon.
President: Russ Brandon
Right off the bat, we can see the ownership of the XFL wanted to bring in a seasoned football veteran, and that search led them to Russ Brandon. Brandon has been involved with the Buffalo Bills for over 20 years, most recently serving as the Managing Partner and President for the organization.
Welcome Russ Brandon as President, Football and League Operations and members of the executive leadership team as we continue to build ahead of our return to play in 2023. #XFL
Read full announcement: https://t.co/bMr56T7QmP pic.twitter.com/Er2cBA2ies
— XFL (@XFL2023) November 8, 2021
He also was the Alternate Governor for Sabres, and the COO for Pegula Sports and Entertainment, juggling all three jobs before coming to the XFL.
One thing to note is that in 2018, when Russ Brandon resigned from his position as President from the Buffalo Bills, there were allegations that came out against him concerning workplace misconduct. However, the NFL investigated the case, and ultimately there was nothing that Brandon did wrong, clearing him to move forward into his future as an executive elsewhere.
NFL 'Satisfied' with Bills' Investigation of Russ Brandon Misconduct Allegations https://t.co/q8CUSXIUId pic.twitter.com/XANl0xPTHC
— Vegas Lane Pro Picks (@VegasLanePicks) May 12, 2018
Chief Financial Officer: Rob Gerbe
Rob Gerbe has been assigned the role of Chief Financial Officer, which is another solid move from the XFL. Gerbe for the past seven years has been the Senior Vice President of the Team & Labor Finance department for the NBA.
He will play a crucial part in ensuring that the league is smart with their money and assets, and will oversee everything in the world of accounting and finances.
Chief Business Officer: Jordan Schlachter
Something that we love to see is the new ownership not forgetting those who helped the XFL reach lofty goals back in 2019 and 2020. Jordan Schlachter is one of those people, serving as the Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer for the league during those years.
He helped the organization solidify partnerships with Bud Light Seltzer, Progressive Insurance, and other entities that benefitted the XFL.
Remember the good ole days when XFL teams would celebrate their $100K victory with Bud Light seltzer's and Uncrustables? Good times man pic.twitter.com/cNdOP3opAk
— Jack Leverentz (@Bossman_10K) September 17, 2021
Schlachter is now returning to the league as the Chief Business Officer, and will “oversee business partnerships, sponsorship revenue and relationships, licensing, merchandising distribution, and media partner business and sales”.
Chief Marketing & Content Officer: Janet Duch
Janet Duch is another example of alumni from the 2020 season returning to the league. Janet worked as the President of the New York Guardians, a team that saw quite a bit of success before the XFL was forced to shut down, finishing with a 3-2 record.
The New York Guardians are better than the Giants and Jets combined! #XFL pic.twitter.com/ZgiiZgQiwB
— Vinnie Parise (@VinnieParise) February 9, 2020
Now in her second stint with the league, Duch will be serving as the Chief Marketing & Content Officer, looking to improve and enhance the XFL’s campaigns to grow the business as a whole. She will also oversee every team’s ticketing strategies and gameday operations.
Vice President Of Football Operations: Marc Ross
Marc Ross, who worked with the New York Giants as an executive for over 10 years, now joins the XFL as the VP of Football Operations. Most recently he was an NFL analyst, but will now resume an executive role with a football organization.
His job mainly revolves around “all aspects of football operations, including rules and gameplay, logistics and league planning, as well as innovation, data and analytics,” etc. – there is a solid chance that Ross will be heavily involved in the XFL’s decisions to implement certain rules and regulations to enhance gameplay come 2023.
Vice President Of Player Personnel: Doug Whaley
Doug Whaley is also a former Buffalo Bills executive, and did work for the XFL during its revival from 2018-2020. He held the role Marc Ross has now taken over, and helped the league create its eight team formula, along with assisting in new rules and innovative gameplay.
In his new position, Whaley will now focus on recruiting and scouting players for the league, along with growth and career development for those athletes.
Vice President Of Enterprise Technology: Scott Harniman
Overseeing and developing how a league uses technology is most definitely a very important factor for the XFL, especially since they were so innovative in that area in 2020. This is exactly why Scott Harniman will be returning to the league for a second time, resuming his role as the VP of Enterprise Technology.
The XFL clearly had some excellent ideas going for them during their 2020 season when it comes to technology, such as the extra inside access to hearing the coaches’ play calls, and the ability to see exactly what the referees were looking at during the review process.
The XFL has a maximum instant reply review of 1 minute. Here’s a look at the first review at Globe Life Park went. pic.twitter.com/kV2LHl4yrD
— Joseph Hoyt (@JoeJHoyt) February 9, 2020
Harniman will no doubt be involved in improving upon the XFL’s already impressive technological advances from their 2020 season.
Vice President Of Broadcast Operations: Jay Rothman
What may be one of the most underrated hirings from the XFL is Jay Rothman, who is taking over as Vice President of Broadcast Operations for the league. Rothman brings decades of experience to the organization, most recently serving as the VP of Production for ESPN.
This brings up an interesting point: will Rothman’s connection to ESPN allow for the XFL to get another deal with the network for 2023? The XFL had games broadcasted on ABC and ESPN in 2020, and considering that FOX seems to be tied up with the USFL, it does make sense.
An interesting nugget from the #XFL hires: Jay Rothman most recently worked at ESPN as the Vice President of Production. You wonder if this may play a part in the league potentially working with ESPN, come 2023? With FOX going all in on the #USFL, it would make sense.
— James Larsen (@JamesLarsenMI) November 8, 2021
Whatever the case may be, having an ESPN alumni on board to oversee broadcasting operations can only be an asset.
Vice President Of People Operations: Cindy Wagner
Something that the XFL was top tier in was its culture, as almost everyone involved with the organization has had nothing but positive things to say about it. Cindy Wagner was with the XFL during its past iteration as the Senior Director of People and Culture, and now returns to fill a similar role.
Considering what she did for the XFL before, one can only expect the culture to be even stronger this time around.
Quite clearly, the XFL has put a lot of time, thought, and energy into hiring the right people for the right positions, and the league is primed to make an impressive run in 2023.
Only time will tell if the XFL can return to the success it saw in 2020, but this team gives us confidence that they will.
Are you excited for the XFL’s return in 2023? Do you think this new team of leaders will get the job done? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!