Last month we learned that former XFL President Jeffrey Pollack would be walking away from his position with the company. When the news dropped, it was expected that the XFL would be making some hires in the near future as it ramps up towards its 2023 return.
The league exceeded a lot of expectations when it hit the field in 2020. Had it not been for COVID, it’s likely it would still be moving along today. The league was forced to suspend its season just five games into, and ultimate filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
This lead to the league being purchased for $15M from Dany Garcia, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and RedBird Capital. Since the purchase, we’ve patiently waited, but it seems the gears are finally starting to move.
Today, the XFL has officially started filling out its leadership team. Kevin Seifert of ESPN reports that the league has hired former NFL executives Russ Brandon, Marc Ross and a familiar name to XFL fans, Doug Whaley. The league has brought on a total of 9 new hires, with many previously having roles in the XFL.
NEWS: The @XFL2023 has hired former NFL team executives Russ Brandon, Marc Ross and Doug Whaley to its leadership team. Brandon will serve as president. Ross will run football operations. 9 hires announced this morning.https://t.co/5eIu2DPPjp
Russ Brandon will come in to take over the role of Jeffery Pollack and XFL President. He’ll be most remembered as CEO of the Buffalo Bills, leaving his post in 2018.
In addition to Whaley, three other former XFL executives were brought back. Former New York Guardians president Janet Duch will come in as the Chief Marketing and Content Officer. Jordan Schlacter will join on as the leagues chief business officer, Scott Harniman will reprise his role as Senior vice president, enterprise technology and lastly Cindy Wagner comes in as senior vice president of people operations .
Beyond the names we mentioned, we have a few more new hires as well. Former NBA executive Rob Gerbe will come on as chief financial officer, and a name you may remember from an earlier report Jay Rothman. Rothman previously served as vice president of production for ESPN, and had been spotted consulting the XFL’s new ownership group earlier this year.
One thing is for sure, the XFL seems to mean business. We absolutely love to see some former XFL executives making a return to the company.
XFL co-owner Dany Garcia made a statement to ESPN’s Seifert on the new hires:
These exceptional and talented executives encompass a deep skill set that aligns with our commitment to delivering an exceptional football universe experience, as well as our shared passion for bringing the XFL back stronger than before. Our team’s experience across varying professional sports leagues and brands will enable us to deliver an experience for our fans, athletes and partners that represents today’s evolution of ‘best-in-class.’ A tremendous amount of work has already been done with more exciting news to come as we prepare for 2023.”
Now that we have some roles being filled in the XFL, it’s likely we’ll start getting some more news on the direction the league is headed for 2023.
Since the XFL last hit the field, the spring football landscape has evolved a bit. In 2020, the XFL was the only kid on the block after the AAF failed to make it past its first season. Next year we have the USFL returning, but at the moment it looks as if the two leagues wouldn’t play head to head. If the XFL sticks to it’s 2020 plan, they would kick off the week after the Super Bowl. Whereas the USFL is planning to kickoff in April. If this holds, we could see continuous football from the beginning of the NFL season to the conclusion of the USFL season in July.
Do you plan on supporting the XFL in 2023? Which former XFL staff members would you like to see return? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.
The XFL has since put out a press release, which you can read in full below:
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
New York – November 8, 2021 – The XFL and its ownership group, consisting of Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson and RedBird Capital Partners, are excited to announce the addition of nine executive hires as the league prepares for its highly anticipated return to the field in 2023. Joining and returning to the league are:
Russ Brandon, President, League and Football Operations
Rob Gerbe, Chief Financial Officer
Jordan Schlachter, Chief Business Officer
Janet Duch, Chief Marketing and Content Officer
Marc Ross, Executive Vice President, Football Operations
Doug Whaley, Senior Vice President, Player Personnel
Scott Harniman, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Technology
Jay Rothman, Senior Vice President, Broadcast Operations
Cindy Wagner, Senior Vice President, People Operations
“These exceptional and talented executives encompass a deep skill set that aligns with our commitment to delivering an exceptional football universe experience, as well as our shared passion for bringing the XFL back stronger than before,” said Dany Garcia, XFL Chairwoman and Co-Owner. “Our team’s experience across varying professional sports leagues and brands will enable us to deliver an experience for our fans, athletes and partners that represents today’s evolution of ‘best-in-class’. A tremendous amount of work has already been done with more exciting news to come as we prepare for 2023.”
Brief bios of the executives can be found below:
Russ Brandon is a longtime NFL veteran, holding various positions within the Bills organization for over 20 years. Before joining the XFL, Russ worked as an executive advisor to RedBird Capital Partners for its investment in the XFL. Prior to that, Russ was most recently Managing Partner and President of the Buffalo Bills, President and Alternate Governor on the Sabres and COO of Pegula Sports and Entertainment (PSE), managing all aspects of the day-to-day business and administrative operations of the three entities. In his new role as President, Russ will manage day-to-day operations of the league while directing strategic planning for business and football operations on both the league and team levels.
Rob Gerbe joins the XFL as Chief Financial Officer, where he will oversee financial operations of the league and its teams to provide strategic financial insights on all facets of the business. Rob will lead all financial and accounting matters, including reporting, planning and forecasting, to drive analytical decision making, support revenue growth, cost management and profitability metrics. Rob joins the XFL most recently from the NBA, where he served as Senior Vice President, Team & Labor Finance. Rob will report to Russ Brandon.
Jordan Schlachter is returning to the XFL as Chief Business Officer, overseeing business partnerships, sponsorship revenue and relationships, licensing, merchandising distribution, and media partner business and sales. Schlachter joined the XFL in April 2019, where he served as the Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer. In this role, he managed nearly all revenue sources (non-ticketing), marketing functions and communications for the league and its eight teams. He negotiated the league’s most significant partnerships, including those with Bud Light Seltzer and Progressive Insurance, created the first-ever football helmet sticker sponsor program. Jordan will report to Russ Brandon.
Janet Duch returns to the XFL as the league’s Chief Marketing and Content Officer where she will lead marketing, digital and business intelligence functions. She is responsible for the development of campaigns, content and experiences across all platforms and the data insights used to enhance fan engagement and maximize opportunities for business growth. Additionally, Duch oversees the XFL’s ticketing strategy and gameday operations across each team market, while also building out the league’s team services function. Janet joined the XFL in 2019 as the President of the New York Guardians, while also overseeing performance marketing for the league and its 8 teams. Janet will report to Russ Brandon.
Marc Ross joins the XFL as Executive Vice President of Football Operations, where he is responsible for all aspects of football operations, including rules and gameplay, logistics and league planning, as well as innovation, data and analytics. Marc has over 20 years of professional football experience working across both league and team levels within the NFL. He is also a current analyst on NFL Network. Marc will report to Russ Brandon.
Doug Whaley returns to the XFL as Senior Vice President of Player Personnel, where he will oversee player scouting, recruiting, compensation, growth and career development. Doug first joined the XFL in 2018 as Senior Vice President of Football Operations, where he assisted in the all aspects of creating of the eight-team spring football league and rules innovation. Doug brings over 20 years of NFL player personnel and football executive experience. Doug will report to Marc Ross.
Scott Harniman returns to the XFL as Senior Vice President, Enterprise Technology and is responsible for all functions of Information Technology and overseeing the XFL’s technology strategy, infrastructure buildout and delivering best-in-class systems to support the entire league. In addition, Scott will shape the football technology program by promoting innovation across emerging platforms. Scott will report to Russ Brandon.
Jay Rothman joins the XFL as Senior Vice President, Broadcast Operations where he will oversee all broadcast operations with our partners, administration and game productions including, original programming, studio production and event coverage. He brings over 30 years of live event and studio production experience to the league, most recently working at ESPN as Vice President of Production. Jay will report to Russ Brandon.
Cindy Wagner returns to the XFL as Senior Vice President, People Operations where she is responsible for establishing Human Resources and administrative functions while also providing strategic leadership to develop a world-class organization that promotes a culture of inclusivity, growth and innovation. She first joined the league in 2019 as Senior Director of People and Culture, Cindy will report to Russ Brandon.