Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson knows a thing or two when it comes to selling a project or product with his name on it.
And over the weekend, the Hollywood leader and XFL co-owner showcased his world-class sales skills and passion for football as he took to the field ahead of the first game of the new 2023 season between the Vegas Vipers and Arlington Renegades.
“When they told you the dream was over, but here’s the truth, your dream is just beginning,” the 50-year-old star, who recently met Adele at the Grammy Awards, said on an ESPN show, during he addressed the players from mid-Choctaw Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday.
After a roar from fans, The Rock continued his speech, which was like something out of one of his blockbuster movies: “Because what you’re going to do, you’re going to come out on this field and you’re going to get in line and show the world how.” it’s being really hungry with that chip on your shoulder.
The former WWE champion wrestler, who aspired to play professional football but was undrafted in the 1995 NFL draft following his college career, then confessed to having a chip on his shoulder.
Passionate: XFL co-owner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, 50, delivered an impassioned speech as he helped kick off the new 2023 season ahead of Saturday’s game between the Vegas Vipers and the Arlington Renegades in Arlington, Texas
“I know because I have the same chip, and we’re here because the X of the XFL is the intersection of dreams and possibility. You bring the dreams, we bring the opportunity. Now let’s get to the game we all love and why we’re here today.”
Johnson ended the speech, adding: “So I say that to all the players, to all the coaches and most importantly to all the fans.”
At this point he increased his enthusiasm and eventually the volume of his voice: “We say this with great gratitude and humility and an insane level of excitement. I’m declaring those words as we begin our season: XFL, let’s play baby,” which drew a far louder roar from the crowd.
After that, the Arlington Renegades used their defense to lead them to victory in their inaugural season, beating Vegas 22-20 behind two interception returns for touchdowns, according to Fox.
The original XFL was formed in 2001 as a joint venture between the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and NBC, led by Vince McMahon and NBC executive Dick Ebersol.
Initially, the league tried to compete with the National Football League (NFL), but ended up lasting only a single season.
The XFL would eventually return in 2020, with eight teams battling each other in a 10-game season, only to see how the COVID-19 pandemic derailed any momentum they could win, resulting in the season after only five weeks of playing time and filing for bankruptcy ended in April of the same year.
That’s where Johnson comes in, using his influence as a recognizable superstar, joining forces with his longtime business partner and ex-wife Dany Garcia to lead a consortium that bought the XFL for $15 million in August 2020.
Speech: The Hollywood leader showed off his sales talent and passion for football during his season-opening speech, which was greeted with a bit of a roar from the crowd
Dream big: “When they told you the dream was over, but here’s the truth, your dream is just beginning,” the Gridiron Gang star, 50, said on an ESPN program while addressing the players turned
Selling: To a roar from fans, The Rock continued: ‘Cause what you’re going to do, you’re going to get on this field and line up and show the world what it’s really like to be hungry with that chip on your shoulder
Sporty: He wore a white football shirt with the number 54 and sunglasses
Working with the crowd: Johnson joined forces with his longtime business partner and ex-wife Dany Garcia to lead a consortium that bought the XFL for $15 million in August 2020
Let the Games Begin: “We say this with great gratitude and humility, and an insane level of excitement. I say these words as we begin our season: XFL let’s ball baby!”
In addition to Arlington and Vegas, there are six other teams including DC Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis BattleHawks, Houston Roughnecks, Orlando Guardians, and San Antonio Brahmas.
Because the season begins the week after the Super Bowl, the XFL adopted a few different rules compared to the NFL, including a 35-second game clock and, in the event of a tie, overtime is decided by a three-round shootout of two . Point conversions similar to a penalty shootout in football or ice hockey.
The Rock played college football at the University of Miami and was a member of the 1991 national championship team, but he mostly spent his four years in backup roles behind elite players.
After Johnson was undrafted by the NFL in 1995, he signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL). However, he was dropped from the team in his first season.
By missing the grid, Johnson became The Rock of professional wrestling, which then led him to a career as an action star in movies and one of the biggest stars in the industry today.
Passionate about football: Johnson (pictured 1994) dreamed of playing pro football after his college career at the University of Miami (1991-1995) but was not drafted in the 1995 NFL draft; He signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL) but was dropped from the team in his freshman season