XFL pitches league to agents in attempt to counteract USFL, source says

April 19, 2022, 9:19 AM

The XFL continued its efforts to counterprogram the USFL's return to the field by convening a virtual meeting of agents Monday night to pitch them on the league's plans for 2023 and beyond, a source told ESPN.

The XFL's top football executives -- Marc Ross, Doug Whaley and Russ Giglio -- told agents that the XFL would offer higher salaries and better benefits than the USFL.

Ross, Whaley and Giglio also suggested that the XFL's season schedule, which will begin in February and end in May, would be more "advantageous" for players who want to get subsequent consideration from NFL teams, according to an internal outline of the meeting obtained by ESPN.

USFL players are receiving $4,500 per week in addition to bonuses if their team wins. They also receive subsidized housing during the regular season; The USFL pays $75 toward a daily $150 hotel room rate at the league's one-site location in Birmingham, Alabama. Ross and Whaley told agents that XFL salaries will be higher and will include full housing and meal costs during the season.

Each of the XFL's eight teams is expected to have 70-man rosters, with 45 active for games, translating to 560 jobs for players -- about 200 more than the current roster limits of the USFL. USFL players signed two-year contracts, complicating any effort to switch leagues in 2023.

The XFL, which last week named its eight head coaches in a live event on ESPN's Get Up!, declined comment.

The USFL, owned by Fox Sports, relaunched with four games over three days, each broadcast nationally by either Fox, NBC or one of its secondary channels. Its opening game Saturday night, simulcast by Fox and NBC, was viewed or streamed by a projected average of 3 million viewers, the league reported.

In the days before the launch, USFL executive vice president of football operations Daryl Johnston said he believed the USFL would be "ahead of the curve" in any future competition with the XFL.

"I don't know if it's so much a race to see who gets there first," Johnston said. "It's now that we're offset by a year, and who has that experience? It goes back to our [television] partners. Where would [the XFL] be able to compete with us when we talk about the presentation of the product? Let's say the product is the same on the field, which I think is going to be a challenge for them to be able to match us, but how do you then deliver that to the fan? When you're talking about Fox and NBC as partners, I don't think there is a way for the XFL to match what we have created there in the ability to broadcast the USFL into television for the fans."