Jim Zorn recalls final days of the XFL, holds out hope for league’s return
Last Friday, word came out that the XFL had suspended operations and laid off its employees. Just three days later, the XFL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the league is reportedly for sale, sending an even stronger message that the upstart spring football league could very well be at an end after playing just five weeks of the scheduled 10 in 2020.
Last week: XFL suspends operations, lays off employees
But like the rest of the country and most of the world, the coronavirus had a major impact, as just days before the league’s sixth week, it was announced the season was being suspended. The Seattle Dragons, one of eight XFL teams, had their third home game scheduled for that weekend.
Dragons head coach and general manager Jim Zorn, a former Seahawks quarterback and quarterbacks coach, joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton and talked about how he’s feeling with the league seemingly finished.
“I think we’re all surprised and it came in the form of a phone call,” Zorn told Clayton on Tuesday. “(There was) not a lot of conversation.”
And while the XFL filed for bankruptcy, the league’s owner, WWE’s Vince McMahon, is attempting to find someone to purchase the league, which could ultimately lead to a revival at some point. Zorn is doing his best to stay optimistic.
“I think we’re all wondering if it can start back up and can we start back up soon?” he said. “But with the Chapter 11 announcement, I think that would bring out a little more speculative thoughts as far as whether the league will get started back up.”
If McMahon is able to find someone to purchase the league, Zorn thinks it could remain successful. In Seattle, the Dragons drew nearly 30,000 for their Week 2 home opener and had over 22,o00 for their second home game. Other teams were doing well with attendance, and while TV ratings dropped throughout the season, they still did well and the product was well received.
“I believe that it not only would have come back, people were enjoying it and would have looked forward to it coming back as well,” Zorn said. “It was real positive for the people involved and then the fans – we had great fans already and an excellent following. The thing that was disappointing for all of us was the fact that we still had three home games and to not have the real meat of our season, which was coming that weekend (and is) now a couple weeks ago, that was really hard to take and now without the league even being able to think about coming back this year, it’s hard to think that it’s gone already.”
Zorn said he, like many, was shocked by the league’s decision to file for bankruptcy.
“Initially, we were stunned because it was short and sweet (and) it has to be,” Zorn said of the phone call he and others received, notifying them of the filing. “I know the league was not shutdown because it failing or feeling like people weren’t enjoying it or it wasn’t going to have some future. I think that everybody felt like the future was strong. That’s the disappointing thing.”
But at the end of the day, it’s all about money and with the league in a holding pattern and McMahon’s priority always having been the WWE, it would make sense that he decided to go the route that he did.
“I think it has to do with financially, here’s a man footing the whole bill and I think everybody is in that spot around the world where they’re having to ask the harder questions and I don’t know any more details than that,” Zorn said. “But I think those were the reasons we had to shut down and it’s because of the way the virus was impacting the world when it comes to business.”
While Zorn was waiting for more instructions from the league after games were suspended, he was hard at work evaluating the Dragons’ offense and defense. Expect him to stay busy with football in the meantime.
“What I’m trying to do right now is organize the offense, defense, really all the stuff we can organize on paper and just have it ready in case the league does have a chance to start up again,” he said. “… As far as my future, I’ll just really try to probably entertain conversations and work out with quarterbacks around nation, locally, and then I’ll just be involved in community things as we go along until something hits that gives me direction.”
Listen to Zorn’s full conversation with John Clayton at this link or in the player below at the 22:17 mark.