Home / News / XFL Unveils Peter Berg Docuseries ‘Player 54: Chasing The XFL Dream’

XFL Unveils Peter Berg Docuseries ‘Player 54: Chasing The XFL Dream’

Sep 20, 2023Sep 20, 2023

Player 54: Chasing the XFL Dream, the Peter Berg-directed 9-part docuseries will debut tomorrow on ESPN2, and Saturday on ABC before the league's opening game between the Vegas Vipers and Arlington Renegades. The NFL season completed with the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory, it is time for the XFL and USFL to try and assert themselves as the off-season alternative for fans who can't get enough of football.

Player 54 is part of the lean in by the upstart football league's exclusive broadcast partner, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN.

The series follows the creation of the League under new ownership – Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia are among those running the ball here — and highlights the development of its players and coaches throughout the entire season. The series will play up the aspirational nature of competitive football encapsulated 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 that exist within the XFL on and off the field. It seems a smart way to get audiences invested in the inspiring journeys of the league's players. Berg, who helmed Friday Night Lights, certainly knows how to tell the human side of sports dreams. You can watch the trailer above.

"The opportunity to use our partnership with Disney and ESPN to showcase these dynamic stories and demonstrate the XFL's potential is a pivotal aspect of our mission," said Dany Garcia, Chairwoman and Owner. "Player 54 is the culmination of many of the things that make the XFL special, but, most importantly, it focuses on our players and coaches – the soul and heartbeat of our League. Since the beginning, we’ve been committed to elevating these players, providing them with a platform to share their stories, cultivate their individual brands, and establish themselves as professional athletes. This docuseries is a powerful tool in telling these athletes narratives, connecting with our fans, and building a ‘League of Tomorrow’."

"Player 54 is a deeply personal reality for me," said Dwayne Johnson, Owner, who followed a college career on the powerhouse Miami Hurricanes by chasing a career in the NFL. He wound up playing in Canada, but injuries took their toll on him and he gravitated to the wrestling ring where his dad Rocky Johnson was a star. From there, Johnson realized his dreams to become a movie star.

"There are 53 players on an NFL roster – I was number 54," Johnson said. "I was good, but not good enough. I was ready, I was hungry, and I waited for that NFL phone call that never came. I never got that shot to prove myself. And that seminal moment in my life put a chip on my shoulder that has never and will never go away. Years later, life has brought me to the XFL today, and I’m grateful to share my experience with our players – all of whom have that same chip on their shoulders. I hope everyone enjoys watching our XFL process as much I’ve enjoyed this ‘life comes full circle’ ride."

Filming takes place primarily at the XFL Hub in Arlington, and Berg got full access into the day-to-day lives of the players and coaches – from the Draft and roster cuts to season kickoff and the Championship – immersing viewers in the competitive environment as players prove that they deserve a chance to win with the XFL.

"The passion and determination from Dany and DJ are utterly infectious, 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 real"

Said Tim Reed, ESPN veep of Programming & Acquisitions: "The Player 54 docuseries greatly complements our robust slate of live games. "The powerful storytelling will help fans better understand the motivation and inspiration of the XFL players they’ll watch throughout the season. We’re thrilled to provide another dynamic offering to football fans on our platforms, providing unprecedented access on the field and behind-the-scenes stories."

Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.