ESPN Films will premiere 30 for 30 documentary This Was the XFL on February, 2 at PM ET, three days ahead of Super Bowl LI.


Directed by Charlie Ebersol, This Was The XFL chronicles the short-lived, ill-fated pro football league and features Ebersol’s dad, longtime NBC sports chief Dick Ebersol, and Vince McMahon. In 2001, Dick Ebersol and McMahon launched the league, which was aimed to compete with the NFL, but turned out to be spectacular failure.

Bringing together a cast of characters ranging from the boardrooms of General Electric to the practice fields of Las Vegas, This Was the XFL is the tale of all that went wrong, but also, how the XFL ended up influencing the way professional team sports are broadcast today. At the center of it all was a decades- long friendship between one of the most significant television executives in media history and the one-of-a-kind WWE impresario. This film will explore how Ebersol and McMahon brought the XFL to life, and why they had to let it go.

“I grew up on the sidelines watching my father and Vince enjoy incredible success with just about everything they touched, and then, along came the XFL,” said director Charlie Ebersol. “I saw them take bold creative risks, face unparalleled success and failure with dignity, but most importantly they maintained and celebrated a friendship where most would have cut and run. I learned more about integrity and character in those 18 months than just about any other time in my life, so when ESPN Films asked if I wanted to tell the story of the XFL, I jumped at the opportunity because I knew that the real story was that of an unbreakable friendship.”

John Dahl, Vice President and Executive Producer, ESPN Films said: “We felt that the colorful personalities and storylines featured throughout the rise and fall of the XFL deserved a more detailed examination, and as Dick Ebersol’s son, Charlie provided a personal understanding of it all. The XFL was a gamble, and even though the league didn’t ultimately succeed, we think audiences will really enjoy this tale of risk and ambition.”

This Was the XFL will have its world premiere tomorrow at the DOC NYC film festival in Manhattan.