The XFL is Bringing Us Real Football
Media Sharks are no better than Schoolyard Bullies

By Mark Nelson - XFLBoard.com

The XFL brought us there! Shante Carver "promenades" after tackling Outlaw Quarterback Ryan Clement. The XFL took fans closer to this "real football" incident than any other sporting event has ever managed to do.

(21 February 2001) -- Why keep picking on the XFL?

It seems that the media sharks are swarming because they smell blood.

Mostly, they think that they're practicing good journalism, but in actuality they are no better than a bunch of schoolyard bullies. Picking on the "new kid" when he is down.

Why not report on the real story here? Why not take the XFL for what it is: Real football, presented in a unique way, and setting a standard for the method in which televised sports will be presented in the future. You just know that the NFL, and other football leagues, are going to be using some of the XFL's gadgetry when they come back in their next season.

For me, the XFL moment that most impacted my opinion came in Week 2. I keep picturing Outlaw's quarterback Ryan Clement rolling on the field and moaning. Then he pointing out the "later than usual" hit by Shante Carver that helped cause his shoulder injury. Then he kept telling the training staff "It's separated, it's separated" as they escorted him off then field.

If it wasn't for the XFL I would never had experienced real football, almost from the point of view that Ryan Clement does.

There is nothing glamorous about Clement's injury. In fact it's a shame to have happened. It's just that these are the trials and tribulations that a football quarterback has to deal with when he is playing a real football game. Now I can better understand it, because I was pretty much there.

I hear and see a calm coach like Al Luginbill say "get out of my face" to a cameraman, as the last minute pressure of an extremely close game causes his firm facade to crack -- just a little bit.

Like most fans, never having played the game, the closest I get to playing a football game myself is when the camera does a close-up such as this. Now the XFL brings it into my "TV Box Dealy" on a weekly basis.

I can even hear all the grunts and the huffing and puffing of the linemen just after the ball is snapped.

I hear the play calls. I don't really understand them, but I sure love to hear them.

I hear and see Los Angeles Xtreme quarterback, Tommy Maddox, comment about every little thing that seems to bother him.

I hear and see a calm coach like Al Luginbill say "get out of my face" to a cameraman, as the last minute pressure of an extremely close game causes his firm facade to crack -- just a little bit.

So why wouldn't I like the XFL? It is giving me a unique view of my favorite sport.
Upon mentioning the XFL in public one will find that some people absolutely love the league and others totally despise it. When you ask the people who don't like it, "why", most will tell you that they have never actually watched a game. They just heard that it is "bush-league ball".

If they had seen a game they would realize that the football is not really substandard. Mind you, the XFL is not for everyone, it's just that people should not be turned away because they expect to see a bad football game. On the contrary, the "football" has been this league's strongest point.

Football by amateurs? Some of the media "wags" will have you believe that the XFL is not worth watching because the players are "second string". Frankly if you actually watch some of the games you will see some of these so called "second string" footballers giving a greater effort than most of the players I see in other leagues. And they do all this simply for the love of the game!

For the love of the game? Isn't that just a hackneyed sports cliché?

Not when the XFL is concerned. If you have any doubt, just watch any XFL match and see what these players will do for their low by NFL standards pay envelope.

Put this in perspective for a minute. These are not millionaire players. These players are football machines that are running on minimum wage. Even though the salaries are below normal there is still a "waiting list" for players who still want to play in this league. These are players who either want to showcase their talents or even better yet - play football.

The XFL is certainly not hurting the game of football. The increased football on network televisions will certainly entice more fans to enjoy the game in the long run, whether it be NFL, CFL, College or Pop-Warner for that matter. Plus more players get to play the game. The XFL player selection process has proven, where they had more than 10,000 applicants, that there is an abundance of football talent out there. Now the XFL gives some of them a chance to play.

Maybe it's the cheerleaders that people don't appreciate?

During an XFL broadcast, there is a generous sprinkling of cheerleader close-ups. Images of scantly clad women? Of course, the average Joe appreciates the bawdiness of the XFL, just as they probably appreciate it on other televised sporting events, other reality based programs and certain sitcoms which also push the limits of prime time TV.

But it is still the football that brings me back week after week.