The XFL and CFL could be headed for a long-term merger. In the short term, the two leagues are discussing interleague games and a potential championship game.
According to Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, "Both leagues would play their regular seasons—there could be 'interleague' games, similar to MLB — and once the respective XFL and CFL champions are crowned, they'd face off in an interleague championship game."
That followed a press release from the CFL and XFL that the leagues have "agreed to work together to identify opportunities for the leagues to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football."
McCarthy added that the two leagues could potentially combine for an All-Star Game and that a merger is reportedly the "long-term objective."
More than a few leagues have attempted to carve a niche into the football space, though the NFL and NCAA haven't left much room for those leagues to succeed. The XFL was attempting its second go-around last year when the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to suspend operations in April 2020, with no plans at the time to return in 2021.
"It's done," a prominent XFL staffer told ESPN's Kevin Seifert and Field Yates at the time. "It's not coming back."
The league filed for bankruptcy in April 2020, though an investment group led by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson agreed to buy the XFL in August.
The CFL has had a longer run, operating since 1954. But like every other professional football league since the formation of the NFL, it hasn't truly been a competitor or attracted the world's top players. The route to upper echelon football has remained playing college football before being drafted to the NFL.
Or as McCarthy noted, "During a non-pandemic year, the nine-team CFL generates revenue of $240 million vs. $12 billion for the NFL."
An XFL-CFL merger would be unlikely to take a bite out of the NFL's monopoly, though it would be interesting to see if a more prominent league might convince younger players to consider bypassing college, as the debate over whether the NCAA should pay its athletes rages on.
Basketball prospects, for example, have increasingly chosen to bypass college to play overseas or in the NBA's G-League. It wouldn't be surprising if a similar option eventually opened up to young football prospects, regardless of a CFL-XFL merger.