XFL debuts before sellout crowd in Vegas

Saturday, February 3, 2001

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Moments before the XFL's first red-and-black football was kicked into the desert night, Vince McMahon stood alone at the 50-yard line of Sam Boyd Stadium. Deafening cheers poured down from the packed stands.

"We welcome you to our game!" McMahon shouted. "Thank you for the privilege of competing before you tonight!"

Both sport and entertainment, both circus and sideshow, the XFL muscled its way onto the national sports scene with its first two games Saturday night. Though the quality of play wasn't much better than that of NFL Europe or the CFL, the game was only part of the spectacle.

"What you saw was an honest game tonight," McMahon said.

With exuberant cheerleaders and trash-talking players sharing center stage, the Las Vegas Outlaws beat the New York/New Jersey Hitmen 19-0, while the Orlando Rage beat the Chicago Enforcers 33-29 in Florida.

As in most early season football games, the XFL's defenses appear to be ahead of the offenses. Ryan Clement threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns in the Outlaws' victory, while Orlando's Jeff Brohm threw for four touchdown passes.

Though the slow, choppy and one-sided game in Las Vegas -- which included a scoreless second half -- left much to be desired, the XFL's scores and highlights might be secondary.

Only the World Wrestling Federation impresario would have the audacity to script something like this upstart league, which unveiled its unique combination of old-fashioned football, technological innovations and a heavy dose of marketing savvy.

"This is the culmination of a lot of dreams and a lot of hard work for everybody out here," McMahon said. "This is all about football, pure and plain and simple."

Actually, it was anything but. From the on-field cameramen to the ubiquitous wrestler-politician in the NBC broadcast booth, the XFL looked like the furthest thing from simple football to the 30,389 fans who watched the league's first game.

"People are here to see what this is all about," said Dick Butkus, the Hall of Fame linebacker who's the XFL's director of competition. "They know what Vince can do, and they like the combination of Vince and football."

The XFL already has made a splash in Las Vegas, a town where garish spectacles are routinely and unabashedly embraced as quality entertainment.

The parking lots began to fill with RVs and tailgaters five hours before kickoff. By game time, there was a buzz in the stadium, where merchandise shops nearly outnumbered food stands. Ticket scalpers lined the road to the game, which was sold out on Friday.

"We're the first tailgaters in XFL history -- or at least we're pretty close," said Don Bracia, 41, who made sandwiches on the open tailgate of his truck. "This is a great time of year for football. Nobody ever gets tired of football, and Vince knows that."

Two hours before kickoff, McMahon and NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol were still fine-tuning their creation. McMahon jogged through the stands carrying a yellow legal pad and wearing reading glasses, while Ebersol traded notes and cigars with Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who's providing color commentary on weekly telecasts.

"I have so much respect for the players out here," Ventura said. "They're doing this just for the love of football. I just know this league is going to grow into something special."

After a fireworks display, the Outlaws ran a reverse on the opening kickoff. The play was shown on a strikingly clear 1,000-square-foot video board looming over the north end zone. The first points came on a 23-yard field goal by Outlaws kicker Paul McCallum, who makes $1,000 per game less than his teammates in the XFL's pay scale.

But the game dragged in the second half, when the teams traded punts and turnovers in a game that didn't offer nearly as much distraction as the cheerleaders in hot pants and leather trenchcoats.

"I don't think there's ever enough sex," McMahon said. "I thought that there was the right complement of sexuality and a right complement of confrontation and the right complement of real good, hard-hitting football. I think that the viewer experienced the game."

Summary

XFL FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
NYNJ 0 0 0 0 0
LAS VEGAS 9 10 0 0 19 FINAL

SCORING SUMMARY

1ST QUARTER: LAS - FG, PAUL MCCALLUM 23 YD, 6:12. Drive: 10 plays, 54
yards in 6:12. Key plays: Clement 15-yard pass
to Floyd to New York 24; 18-yard pass
interfence penatly on New York on 3rd-and-13 to
New York 9. LAS VEGAS 3-0
LAS - TD, RICKEY BRADY 14 YD PASS FROM RYAN CLEMENT (PAT
FAILED), 15:00. Drive: 12 plays, 87 yards in
6:52. Key plays: Clement 33-yard pass to Furrey
to New York 27. LAS VEGAS 9-0
2ND QUARTER: LAS - FG, PAUL MCCALLUM 31 YD, 5:52. LAS VEGAS 12-0
LAS - TD, NAKIA JENKINS 27 YD PASS FROM RYAN CLEMENT
(RYAN CLEMENT PASS TO LONNIE PALELEI FOR
CONVERISON), 11:47. Drive: 2 plays, 42 yards in
1:02. Key plays: 16-yard punt retun by Las
Vegas plus 15-yard personal foul penalty on
Hitmen to New York 42. LAS VEGAS 19-0
3RD QUARTER: NONE
4TH QUARTER: NONE

TEAM STATISTICS

NYN LAS
-------- --------
FIRST DOWNS 17 9
Rushing 4 2
Passing 10 7
Penalty 3 0
3RD-DOWN EFFICIENCY 1-11 4-14
4TH-DOWN EFFICIENCY 0-3 0-0
TOTAL NET YARDS 205 257
Total plays 60 58
Average gain 3.4 4.4
NET YARDS RUSHING 61 91
Rushes 14 27
Average per rush 4.4 3.4
NET YARDS PASSING 144 166
Completed-attempted 18-40 13-28
Yards per pass 3.1 5.4
Sacked-yards lost 6-61 3-22
Had intercepted 2 0
PUNTS-AVERAGE 6-45.0 7-43.3
RETURN YARDAGE 220 90
Punts-returns 7-94 6-48
Kickoffs-returns 5-126 1-42
Interceptions-returns 0-0 2-0
PENALTIES-YARDS 7-68 9-57
FUMBLES-LOST 3-0 1-0
TIME OF POSSESSION 27:17 32:43


PLAYER STATISTICS

Missed field goals: Nynj (Leo Araguz 53).

Nynj rushing: Keith Elias 6-45, Corte Mcguffey 4-19, Dino Philyaw
3-3, Charles Puleri 1-minus 6.

Las Vegas rushing: Smart Rod 13-46, Chukwuma Chrys 7-28, Snell Ben
4-11, Clement Ryan 3-6.

Nynj passing: Corte Mcguffey 9-16 for 103 yards, 0 INT, 0 TD, Charles
Puleri 6-19 for 71 yards, 1 INT, 0 TD, Wally Richardson 3-5 for 31
yards, 1 INT, 0 TD.

Las Vegas passing: Clement Ryan 13-28 for 188 yards, 0 INT, 0 TD.

Nynj receiving: Fred Brock 8-97, Anthony Dicosmo 4-38, Zola Davis
2-37, Dino Philyaw 2-20, Marcus Hinton 1-15, Keith Elias 1-minus 2.

Las Vegas receiving: Brady Rickey 3-29, Smart Rod 2-48, Bech Brett
2-22, Snell Ben 2-13, Furrey Mike 1-33, Jenkins Nakia 1-27, Floyd
Todd 1-15, Chukwuma Chrys 1-1.

Nynj tackles-assists-sacks (unofficial): Ron Merkerson 8-1-0, Ben
Hanks 2-5-0, Brad Trout 5-1-0, Israel Raybon 5-1-1, Ty Talton 3-1-1,
Damen Wheeler 3-0-0, Haven Fields 1-2-0, Christian Maumalanga 1-2-0,
Donnie Caldwell 2-0-0, Henry Slay 2-0-1, Zola Davis 1-0-0, Kirby Dar
Dar 1-0-0, Mark Tate 1-0-0, Tyrell Peters 1-0-0, Ryan Collins 0-1-0.

Las Vegas tackles-assists-sacks (unofficial): Williams Jamel 5-1-0,
Blackwell Kory 5-0-0, Kaiser Jason 4-1-0, Bayne Chris 4-0-1, Kinney
Kelvin 3-1-2, Tuipala Joseph 3-1-1, Sanders Brandon 3-0-0, James
Toran 2-1-0, Jackson Jonathan 2-1-0, Simpson Carl 2-0-1, Bech Brett
2-0-0, Edwards Antonio 2-0-1, Willis Marcel 2-0-0, Mike Crawford
1-1-0, Mason Michael 1-0-0, Belli Adriano 1-0-0, Rubio Angel 1-0-0,
Tarver Hurley 1-0-0, Scott Kevin 1-0-0, Smart Rod 0-1-0.

Interceptions: Las Vegas (Tarver Hurley 1 for 0 yards, Sanders
Brandon 1 for 0 yards).

Fumbles lost: None.

Opponent's fumbles recovered: None.

A: 30,389; T: 0:00.