Shocking news was made on Monday when it was announced that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, long-time business partner Dany Garcia and Cardinale’s RedBird Capital purchased the XFL and split the price tag of $15 million evenly. Garcia spoke with Yahoo Sports about the purchase and her ambitions and passions for football.
“I love football. Deeply. I actually love sports, and I’m a professional bodybuilder, so sports and storytelling has been a part of my life,” Garcia said. “The second iteration of the XFL I was not only so enthusiastic, I was dying to be part of it.”
Garcia said that she had hoped to see the rebooted XFL succeed. She talked about the positives that the XFL had and the promise and the potential the XFL had.
“I was dying to have some ownership, but Vince [McMahon] had it completely under control and so I participated as a fan that opening weekend and following it for the five weeks,” Garcia stated. “I was so engaged with the product that they had put together, but it was the community that was surrounding these teams and the engagement in that community and the fact that they could connect with these athletes. A lot of times in professional sports, professional leagues, there’s a huge gap between an athlete and your fan. They’re untouchable.
“The XFL knew how to close that, and when you begin to close that you create these magic moments where these moments matter, the games mattered, the plays mattered, and the athletes’ wins and losses, they impacted their lives.”
Garcia is Johnson’s ex-wife, but the two have maintained a strong business relationship, and she talked about how she kept Johnson updated on the XFL while he was filming his movie “Red Notice.” As the XFL was shut down and placed under bankruptcy, Garcia had a revelation for their involvement in the XFL.
“I called DJ up and I said, ‘Dwayne, there’s something really big and really important for us to do. Are you in?’ He was like, ‘What is it?’, because of course he was in,” Garcia recalled. He said, ‘Tell me, we gotta do it’, and I said, ‘Let’s go get the XFL’ and he’s like, ‘Let’s go get the XFL. 100 percent.’ And we started the mad process.”
Garcia did not put too much thought into the idea of a Latinx woman and a Black man owning a sports league. The thought of being a trailblazer in a male-dominated industry was not in her thought process in this business decision.
“You know what, it wasn’t a deviation from my process: I pretty much lead everything that I own,” Garcia stated, which is a boss statement if ever there was one. “So for me to get involved in a project like this, I automatically assume that I’ll be in a leadership position, an ownership position.”
Garcia also spoke on the idea of working with your ex. She spoke on the respect that they share towards one another and the relationships they have with the other’s current spouses.
“It’s very rare. I understand [it’s rare] to work with your ex,” Garcia admitted. “First of all, we have the support of our spouses. Mrs. [Lauren] Hashian Johnson, Dwayne’s wife, is amazing. My husband is amazing, Dave Rienzi, and Dave and Dwayne are so close. My husband is Dwayne’s strength and conditioning coach. That physique that is on DJ, it was all designed by my husband. So we all are close and we respect each other. There’s an incredible amount of respect.”
Garcia spoke more on the business relationship she has with Johnson. She talked about striving and working for the vision that they want to fulfill and maintaing their level of respect towards each other that they’ve always had.
“We worked very, very hard at it. If you’re going to really invest in someone and you happen to divorce them, you need to work very hard, and you have to be very accountable to yourself,” Garcia noted. “There was a lot of accountability as far as who we were in the marriage and what did and didn’t work and we did our work.
“But what we create together is so amazing and rewarding and fantastic and we’ve sincerely invested in each other’s growth personally and professionally. We’ve put in the time, we knew the vision, and we’re friends. We were friends before and we’ve been friends after. We never lost that level of respect.”
The NFL and college football have hit some minor roadblocks in trying to figure out whether a season will be played. Garcia discussed the XFL’s plans to return to play and the idea of a bubble similar to what the NBA, WNBA and NHL have done to maintain player safety.
“What we do have in our back pocket is scenarios where we do go in 2021 and 2022. We have eight teams so we do have the ability to ‘bubble’,” Garcia noted. “We’re really looking at that. I think the audience is getting used to not having fans, fan sounds, as odd as it is, it seems to be working, obviously if that bodes well I think there’s a case for 2021 but we’re going to be figuring that out.
“It’s about the safety of the players, really making sure we can have the players safe and have a level of play that is still high quality. I would love to see it happen in 2021 but we are taking our time.”