XFL unveils 9-part Peter Berg-helmed docuseries ‘Player 54: Chasing the XFL Dream’ to air on ESPN2 and ABC

Player 54: Chasing the XFL Dream, the Peter Berg-directed 9-part docuseries debuts tomorrow on ESPN2, and Saturday on ABC before the league opener between the Vegas Vipers and Arlington Renegades. With the NFL season ending with the Kansas City Chiefs winning the Super Bowl, it’s time for the XFL and USFL to try and assert themselves as an off-season alternative for fans who can’t get enough football.

Player 54 It is the exclusive broadcast partner of the upstart football league, part of The Walt Disney Company and ESPN.

The series follows the creation of the league under new ownership – Dwayne Johnson and Danny Garcia are among the ball carriers – and highlights the development of its players and coaches throughout the season. The series will play up the aspirational nature of competitive soccer that is anchored by the league’s motto: Where dreams meet opportunity. The series takes fans behind the scenes of what it takes to build a league and its eight teams from the ground-up, showcasing the human stories of the XFL on and off the field. It seems like a smart way to get viewers invested in the inspirational journey of the league’s players. Berg, who directs Friday Night Lights, certainly knows how to tell the human side of sports dreams.

“The opportunity to use our partnerships with Disney and ESPN to showcase these dynamic stories and showcase the potential of the XFL is an important aspect of our mission,” said Dani Garcia, chairwoman and owner. “Player 54 is the culmination of many things that make the XFL special, but, most importantly, it focuses on our players and coaches – the soul and heartbeat of our league. From the beginning, we have been committed to promoting these players, sharing their stories, cultivating their individual brands and providing a platform for them to establish themselves as professional athletes. These documents are a powerful tool to tell these athletes’ narratives, connect with our fans and create a ‘League of Tomorrow’.”

“Player 54 is a deeply personal reality for me,” said Dwayne Johnson, the owner, who followed a career in the NFL following a college career with the powerhouse Miami Hurricanes. He was injured playing in Canada, but the injuries took a toll on him and he entered the wrestling ring where his father, Rocky Johnson, was a star. From there, Johnson realized his dream of becoming a movie star.

“There are 53 players on NFL rosters — I was number 54,” Johnson said. “I was good, but not good enough. I was ready, I was hungry, and I was waiting for that NFL phone call that never came. I never got that shot to prove myself. And that pivotal moment in my life is on my shoulders. Left a chip that never went away and never will. Many years later, life has brought me to the XFL today, and I am grateful to share my experience with our players – who all have the same chip on their shoulder. I hope all of us XFL will enjoy watching the process as much as I enjoyed this ‘life come full circle’ ride.”

Filming primarily takes place at the XFL Hub in Arlington, and Berg gets full access to the daily lives of players and coaches – from drafts and roster cuts to season kickoffs and championships – immersing viewers in the competitive atmosphere as players prove they deserve a chance to win with the XFL.

“The passion and determination from Danny and DJ is absolutely contagious,” said Peter Berg. “They are playing to win, and I am honored to be a part of this stellar team. The love of the game is genuine.”

Said Tim Reed, ESPN VP of Programming and Acquisitions: “The Player 54 docuseries greatly complements our strong slate of live games. “Powerful storytelling will help fans understand the inspiration and motivation of the XFL players they will watch throughout the season. We are thrilled to deliver another dynamic offering to football fans on our platform, providing unprecedented access to the pitch and behind-the-scenes stories.”

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