Possible CFL/XFL merger sparks mixed reaction in football world



CFL reporters and players, past and present, have a lot of ideas on what a potential merger of the CFL and XFL might be. If the merger goes ahead it could bring a different fanbase to Mosaic Stadium. Photo by Allan Ly

A group of CFL aficionados had different opinions about the recent announcement of the possible merging with the XFL, with some sharply in favour of the idea. 

“It’s about time,” said the former radio play-by-play voice of the Saskatchewan Riders, Rod Pedersen, who hosts the Rod Pedersen show that airs on Game+ TV. “Going back to 2001, when the XFL first played, I thought that it would be a wonderful opportunity to merge the two leagues because the CFL was struggling financially then.

“It’s only worse now. And the pandemic exposed it. So I was surprised to hear that they were talking. But it was an idea that I’ve been thinking about for 20 years, so I’m just happy they finally came around to it.” 

The CFL lost a lot of money, between $60-80 million for not playing the 2020 season,  according to 3DownNation.

Others have different concepts for what they want the merger to look like; they would model it like the minor-pro American Hockey League or the American Football League when it merged with the NFL from 1966-1970.

“I would identify all the players who would potentially play in the league, throw them into one huge talent pool,” said Pedersen. “Americans, Canadians, global players, and have them ranked by the personnel, people in scouts. And we’d have a draft. 

“ We would find out who goes where and who the priority players were. This way, it’s fair. To be honest, it’s the exact same model as the American Hockey League. They’ve got teams all over the continent, from all over the world.  It seems to be working for them just fine.”

Derek Dennis is a former XFLer now with the CFL’s Edmonton Football Team. His idea for a merger is similar to how the NFL and the AFL became one. He would allow the teams to play out their seasons and the winners from both leagues would face off in the finals or, as Dennis called it, “ultimate international bowl type of game.”

Justin Dunk is a CFL insider for 3DownNation and his idea for the merger is similar to Dennis’, with each championship team facing off in the finals.

 “You’re in Canada, you play CFL rules,” said Dunk. “When you’re in America, you play the four-down rules, the American rules.” 

Schedules would also be intertwined in Dunk’s version of the merger. 

Other people around the CFL believed the merger should not happen but should work like a partnership and establish some kind of middle ground with the XFL, which is being fronted by famous actor/wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

“I can see where there might be a symbiotic relationship where, you know, in both leagues has something the other party wants or aspires to,” said Rob Vanstone, sports editor for the Regina Leader-Post. 

“Obviously, the CFL would like to have the kind of money and the kind of profile the Rock has.  The XFL has folded twice but likes to have the kind of longevity and staying power that the CFL has had.”

Chris Getzlaf, a former Roughrider receiver, wonders how they will do the merger.

“I think you’re better off finding some sort of middle ground between the two,” said Getzlaf. “You know, maybe it’s not a Canadian-sized field, but it’s not an NFL-sized field, at least for the middle.”

Others see the XFL as a financial benefactor for the cash-strapped CFL.  

“My vision would be the Rock for which his investment firm comes in, puts a massive shot of money and capital into the Canadian Football League and then runs the league as single-entity ownership,” said Darren Dupont, co-host of the Rod Pedersen Show. 

“You keep three-down football; you keep the Canadian rules, you keep this unique game, that works. You keep the Grey Cup; you keep the teams, maybe you bring in some American teams, and go and create a real big North American brand.”

Here is the video of the Rock talking about the CFL and what it means to him.




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