A conversation with Grady Raskin, President of the Dallas Renegades
Raskin spoke to us about staffing an office, drafting a football team, and appreciating all that North Texas has to offer.
Did you know you wanted a career in sports from an early age?
From an early age, sports were my life. Whether I was watching with my father or playing with my friends, sports was always the center point in my life. It wasn’t really until college that I realized that I could have a career in the area that I loved so much. Timing and opportunity came together in several instances, and I like to think I took advantage of it.
How did you land the role as Renegades president? What was the process like?
As in many high-level sports opportunities, recruiters played a huge role. Over my career, I made sure to connect with as many recruiters as possible. When approached about the role, the recruiter encouraged me to speak with the XFL league staff and allow them to show me what XFL 2.0 would be all about. Quite honestly, all conversations with the XFL were direct and honest. Everyone from the HR team to Oliver Luck and Jeffrey Pollack were amazingly passionate and made me want to jump on board. I was humbled to be considered for the role and excited to get the ball rolling.
How would you define your role as president of the Renegades? What were your priorities going in?
Initially, my role was recruiting a front office staff. We are nothing without good people. Since we are a lean staff, I had to make sure we had strong directors in all areas and that they have the proper support staff. I am happy to say that we staffed up pretty quickly and each hire is proving to be a home run. Now, I do all I can to provide support and relay information from the league. Ticket sales and brand awareness are our top priority, so all activity focuses on these two crucial areas.
As you put together that front office, what were you looking for in people?
My approach was to find genuine, selfless individuals who truly understood what it might take to create a football team in a new professional football league. I wanted confident, not cocky. Since we have such a lean staff, everyone will need to focus on their own particular areas but will also be called to collaborate in other areas. We need to take advantage of the intelligence and experience of the entire staff and everyone needs to be open to suggestions.
Lastly, with the short timetable and enormous amount of work to be done, an electric energy and positive attitude was a must. We may not always agree on a thought or direction, but we will deal with each other positively and respectfully. No time to be anything else.
What, to you, is the most exciting aspect of the new iteration of the XFL?
So many exciting aspects of XFL 2.0. In fact, the only similarities between what was done in 2001 is the name and ownership. This go-around, it is all “for the love of football.”
So much research has been done to find out what people would want out of a new professional football league. We surveyed fans, officials, coaches and others. It was clear that the overriding theme was to make the football fast, fun, and affordable. Less stall and more ball. Low on gimmicks and high on genuine football. It will look and feel like the current football that Americans love to watch on Saturdays and/or Sundays but will have some subtle tweaks to help speed up play and create amazing new experiences.
What was the draft process like?
Over the summer, each market conducted showcases where invited players came out to show their skills. From those Summer Showcases, we created a pool of players that were eligible for our draft. Each player received a non-binding Commissioner’s invite to participate in the draft. Over two days, each team drafted 71 players.
Remember, we’re drafting entire teams, not just filling in a few holes. The experience was amazing, and I have to give props to our football operations team who did their homework, were amazingly prepared and stayed incredibly upbeat and positive for every single pick. It was a long two days and every team should be proud of their efforts.
I would also note that we had a supplemental draft in November to capture any unique talent that had come on the market. Like any professional league, our rosters will constantly evolve, and we are doing everything we can to have the best players available playing in the XFL.
Why the Renegades as a name?
The XFL combined their internal brainpower with an outside agency to come up with all the names and logos of each team. They created a short film to show where the inspiration came from. Our short film shows the eclectic, diverse nature of North Texas, including visuals of cowboys, a graffiti artist, motorcycle enthusiasts, and more. While we see the voice of the Renegade to be unconventional, courageous, relentless, and a trailblazer, it will truly be defined by what our team does on the field and the traditions created by our fans in the years to come.
You’re a born and raised Dallasite. What keeps you in North Texas?
Why would I want to leave North Texas? It’s just a wonderful part of the country with hardworking, positive people. The corporate climate is extremely strong, and the cost of living provides people the opportunity to experience all the sports and entertainment that this area provides.
It also helps that my entire family is here. I married another Dallasite, so her parents, as well as my parents and my sister and her family all live nearby. We are fortunate to be able to get together for all holidays. I never take for granted how fortunate I am to be able to do this.
What’s the number one lesson you’ve learned over your leadership career? What would you tell someone looking to get into a leadership role today?
I believe that everything begins with honesty and humility. If you hold yourself accountable for the same things you ask of your team, it is hard to go wrong. Something will surely go wrong at some point, but dealing with the issues directly and honestly seems to always get the best result. I am a very direct person and appreciate this being reciprocated.
This may be redundant, but I would add to always deal with things in a timely manner. Holding off on tough decisions or conversations will only add to the difficult nature of what needs to be done.
What are you looking forward to most this season?
I am looking forward to watching football in February, March, and April. I’m excited about watching a fast-paced form of familiar football that many will enjoy. I can’t wait to provide some amazing access to our fans at Globe Life Park and to our viewers on FOX, FS1, ABC and ESPN. All of this done with extremely affordable pricing to allow everyone in North Texas the opportunity to watch professional football and create new memories of their own.