The XFL pokes fun at the NFL on Superbowl Sunday

It’s been just over a week that the XFL has announced plans to re-launch in 2020, and they’re already attempting to take on the NFL. Not to mention showing moxy, by poking fun on Superbowl Sunday, the NFL’s biggest day of the year.

The XFL twitter account @XFL2020 posted three videos, all poking fun on nuances of the NFL that they feel makes the game less exciting to watch: Confusion over when a catch is a catch, the slow pace of the NFL game, and rules in the NFL that are confusing.

In the XFL, a catch is a catch.

Less stall, more ball.

Simpler rules.

The XFL Kicked-off Seventeen Years Ago Today

On February 3, 2001, the XFL kicked off with two Saturday night games broadcast live in prime time, split into east and west games.

In the west, the Las Vegas Outlaws hosted the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. Moments before the first ever scramble for the red-and-black football, Vince McMahon stood at the 50-yard line of Sam Boyd Stadium, and announced, “This is the XFL!” The sellout crowd was deafening.

The XFL’s quirky scramble for the ball, which replaced the traditional coin toss to determine who would have first choice of possession was the first change the fans witnessed. In the western matchup, Jamel Williams of the Las Vegas Outlaws came up with the ball over Donnie Caldwell of the New York/New Jersey Hitmen.

In the east, the Chicago Enforcers visited the Orlando Rage where fans witnessed Orlando’s Hassan Shamsid-Deen receive a separated shoulder in the opening scramble for the ball. An injury which unfortunately ended his XFL career. The game also saw receiver Kevin Swayne receive a deep pass from Quarterback Jeff Brohm, and score the first ever touchdown in XFL history.

Because of the XFL’s connection to the WWE, there was a notion that wrestling matches might break out. No wrestling took place… just hard-hitting football, played by journeymen who were largely participating for the love of the game.

Rumors Aside, Fans Should Take a Big Bite of a World Without the XFL

(Originally posted on TheFanForce.com)

Just like Andy Kaufman and the venerable Elvis, the XFL’s death was unsure and frought with rumors of revival. In the end the fans have lost out! The XFL’s revival will only be seen in the NFL’s new camera angles and the play of stars like LA Xtreme’s Tommy Maddox.

“Vince McMahon is a marketing genius. Everything he touches is golden.”

How many times had we heard these words when the XFL was first founded? It seemed like the thing to say at the time, especially for all the disillusioned football fans that were looking for something exciting to compete with the stodgy NFL.

The truth is that Vince McMahon IS a marketing genius. The marketing of the XFL leading up to the February 3rd kickoff was pure genius. The XFL surprised the sports world when over 10 million people tuned in to watch the first game.

The truth is also that everything he touches IS NOT golden. Here we have the proof.

Apparently even Vince McMahon has bosses. Namely the WWFE shareholders.

Once the inaugural XFL season was completed there was plenty to decide about the XFL. McMahon wouldn’t let on as to how much trouble the league was in. His only response to anyone who asked was that “there will definitely be another season.” Little did we know that Vince McMahon did not dare say anything else, lest the WWF stock dip even further.

WWFE shares had been falling from the start. Ever since the XFL was announced the stock had dove. Part of this was due to the entire stock market making a correction, but part of the blame was still directly on the shoulders of the XFL.

But who can actually fault the XFL? It was the media that had the public convinced that the XFL was a huge failure. The truth was that the XFL would have probably lost about $25 million on this first season and then lose an additional $10 million for two more years. Then the league would probably become a moneymaker. These loss figures were actually part of the original business plan for the league.

But what about the TV deal?

The truth is that losing the Saturday night slot on NBC was not part of the XFL’s failure. The XFL knew that the Saturday night experiment was a failure and was content to move the games to Sunday afternoons. The league also apparently had TNN ready to be the flagship network of the XFL’s Sunday afternoon broadcasts. The bottom line is that this would have downgraded the XFL’s broadcasting power to that of a minor league, equivalent to that of the Arena League or NFL Europe. But let the truth be told, the XFL was actually on this level.

So everything was in place for a second season, right?

Not so fast! This plan, as congenial as it sounds to sports fans, was not enough to appease stock analysts.

It was felt that without glowing good news about the XFL the WWFE stock would further decline. This could not happen. The WWF had already lost millions over the stock decline. Any further decline would create losses that would dwarf the mere $25 million that the corporation had lost through the XFL startup year.

On the other hand, news of the WWFE dropping the XFL would probably cause the stock to rebound.

So this is what happened. Quickly and decisively on May 10th the league was closed and the WWFE stock immediately showed signs of recovery.

Meanwhile, coaches, players, front office staff and most importantly, THE FANS were shocked.

The only hope came from a determined Mike Keller, the XFL’s Director of Football Operations, when it was reported on May 11th, 2001 in USA Today that he was going to try to keep this league alive: “Keller, it seems, already is talking about possibly keeping the XFL alive. “I’m going to assess things,” he said. “The branding of this thing is something to consider. The XFL is one of the best-known brands in sports now.”

Later in July, a rumor was leaked that Mike Keller was about to fail in his endeavor. In the end it was apparent that Mike Keller would not be allowed to continue the league, as he could not be allowed to succeed where Vince McMahon had one failed.

Now, with heavy hearts, I am here to represent the TRUE FANS of the XFL in pronouncing the XFL officially dead.

There will be some people that will call us fools for hanging on this long waiting for the league to be revived. But those that do so can shake their heads in disbelief all they want.

It was the true fans of the XFL that continued to believe that this new league could continue because it was simply a great idea.

Those true sports fans that actually stuck it out and watched the games and honestly enjoyed it will always wonder why such a good thing was considered to be so bad.

Comments

TheFanForce Responds:

Replies: 5 comments

O.K ths XFL is dead.But why Can’t other products live on? Like A video game,& Sports wear, How about an offical XFL fantasy football league by the WWF! Offering the winning franchise a million bucks! What would be the buy in? I just wish I could at least look foreward to playing a XFL PS2 video game by EA or Dreamcast! Somebody comment at my address. – Posted by Shaun Harrod @ 07/26/2001 03:18 PM CST

I sorely regret the end of this exciting, innovative, and different football league! all who had a part in it’s demise, and all who criticized it, will soon be lamenting the fact that they never realized what a good thing they had untill they lost it. What a fresh break it was from the dull and monotonous games of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, etc etc. It was real people(players), virtually equal in ability, viewed by real everyday people, and commentary that was entertaining and interesting (not just stats relentlessly bombarding uncaring and uninterested ears). The XFL’s first and (hopefully not) only season-WAS THE BEST SPORT SEASON OF ANY SPORT IN THE LAST TEN YEARS! – Posted by The Count @ 07/26/2001 09:44 AM CST

I was hoping somebody would purchase the XFL and revive it. I thoroughly enjoyed the games and attended several live myself, including the first game in Chicago in the cold and the rain. With a major decline in the NBA ratings, I still think the XFL could survive, especially without a TV network being half owner. This kept the major sporting news services, such as ESPN (Owned by ABC) to give anything positive about the league. I assume the XFL will never revive, but I can always hope it will be. – Posted by Bill @ 07/23/2001 09:38 PM CST

The XFL Better Not Be Dead. Because The NFL Sucks! – Posted by Tommy Beck @ 07/22/2001 08:06 PM CST

We miss this League. – Posted by Sal @ 07/20/2001 05:05 PM CST

Archive: The XFL Would Thrive Under New Management

Catch 22: The XFL can’t survive as part of the WWF; The XFL would not have started without Vince McMahon’s vision.

(14 May 2001) –On the 10th of May 2001, the Worldwide Wrestling Federation officially put the XFL to bed.

There was supposed to be a second season. According the Vince McMahon, the founder of the fledgling league, the XFL was building a brand and it takes a while to make a mark in the sports world. The XFL was willing to do its time and build that brand.

The fans were satisfied. The XFL would survive. Everybody also knew that the league would get better with time.

This is why the sudden extinction of the league is a real shocker. Why, after all this, did the league fold so fast? Even the some of the league’s top employees were blind-sided by the news.

The XFL is a great business idea. The players are paid little, seats at the stadium are cheap and the whole product is designed to please the fans. Why couldn’t this business idea succeed?

Was Vince McMahon being insensitive to the league’s fans, players and employeees?

In the end Vince McMahon had no choice to fold the league. Once it was realized that UPN would not award a new TV contract for the coming season the end of the league had arrived.

The performance of the XFL was directly linked to the fortunes of the WWFE stock. When the XFL was announced the stock had immediately dipped thirty percent. Over the course of the league the stock price has remained low.

With the announcement of the UPN deal failure the WWFE stock would have nose-dived. In an effort of damage control the announcement to close the league was quickly made. As of the close of business on the week following the XFL departure the WWFE stock rose significantly.

The WWF was saved.

Between the WWF and NBC $70 Million dollars was lost in the initial year of the league. Most of these losses were due to league start-up and were expected. It was all part of the business plan.

When you consider what the XFL accomplished in it’s first year, one might say that the new league was fairly successful. Attendance was above expectations. XFL branded clothing and memorabilia was selling well. The football product was getting better. The XFL was well on it’s way to making it’s mark as a spring football league.

What the XFL was missing was respect. Sports media who wouldn’t usually care about anything other than the major leagues spent a lot of time and energy lambasting the XFL. Why? Mainly because of it’s link to the WWF and Vince McMahon. The media’s reaction the XFL was linked to its founder. The media’s reaction to the XFL was also responsible for the performance of the WWFE stock.

If “Joe Nobody” had started up this league, using the backing of investors, then the league would have been left alone and would have been able to survive to build itself up into a viable football alternative.

The XFL is a great business idea. The players are paid little, seats at the stadium are cheap and the whole product is designed to please the fans. Why couldn’t this business idea succeed?

It’s a catch 22 situation. The XFL could not succeed because it was linked to the WWF and it’s founder Vince McMahon. But the XFL would not have been born if Vince McMahon had not had the vision to start such a football league.

Is there another businessman out there that is willing to invest in this league? Why not? They should be running and not walking to the doorstep of the Vince McMahon to buy the XFL at a fire sale price.

Vince McMahon and the WWF have done all the hard work already. The brand is built. The franchises are in place. The players are available, and will play for next to nothing. And despite what the TV ratings will have you believe the fans in most of the XFL cities are waiting for more XFL football.

And more XFL fans will be born, once the perception of WWF “taint” is taken away and real football fans start accepting the league for what it really was… a very good minor football league with excellent innovative ideas and a solid business plan.

So step up and buy this league. Once ownership changes, and Vince McMahon and the WWF are cut loose, the apparent “taint” that the media has assigned to this league will be gone and an excellent football league will emerge.

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

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.

(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.

By Mark Nelson – XFLBoard.com

XFL Prepares for Inaugural Weekend

(30 January 2001) — In a press conference held on Tuesday, Chairman of NBC Sports, Dick Ebersol, started with “the FUN starts on Saturday!”

XFL will kick off it’s first season on Saturday 3 February with the NY/NJ Hitmen at the Las Vegas Outlaws live from Sam Boyd Stadium. The best part is, the game is sold out.

The XFL has met with a major landmark with the inaugural game between the Las Vegas Outlaws and the NY/NJ Hitmen being reported as sold-out. The XFL is also well on its way to exceeding an original goal in ticket sales with over 500,000 tickets now sold league-wide. The original XFL business plan called for 800,000 tickets sold by season’s end. Other inaugural weekend games have also experience high ticket sales: The San Francisco Demons have sold 33,000, the Orlando Rage have sold 25,000 and the Birmingham Bolts have over 20,000 sold. At this point in time, the XFL has also sold over 70% of its television advertising.

What can XFL fans expect to see this weekend?

XFL fans can expect a varied style of play, and maybe a few surprises thrown in for good measure. “The LA Xtreme is going to be wide-open, Orlando will be too,” Dick Butkus, XFL Director of Competition, commented, “Memphis will rely on Saalam who is having a great camp. Chicago will rely on a tough running game. Some of the rules will entice some of the teams to do some outrageous things that wouldn’t normally be expected.”

As for the level of play Dick Butkus is optimistic. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a Kurt Warner pop up, maybe a quarterback, who knows, maybe a running back or lineman.”

Many other innovations will be unveiled on the inaugural NBC broadcast.

Dick Ebersol commented that there will be an “awful lot of interesting stuff” on an XFL broadcast. “Perhaps the most unique thing about the telecast will be the ability to be inside the game”, Ebersol said. “The game on Saturday night will not only have the sky-cam which will fly a camera over the field.” Ebersol added, “We will also have cameras on the field during the game, one behind the defense and one on the offensive side of the field.”

The XFL will use two camera operators on the field during the game. The cameramen will wear helmets and will use cameras that will also feature a special viewfinder where the camera operator can have a better view of the field and the players around him. The camera operators are also reported to be as fit as “world class athletes”. Apparently it takes a lot of energy to cover a game. There will be no sound people on the field during the game. More than sixteen players will be miked during any given game. Sound feeds will be mixed into both the telecast and throughout the stadium sound system. Most live sound feeds will be on a six second delay.

Also, as you may have heard, the XFL had practiced a “ball scramble” to replace the traditional coin toss. Instead of the regular coin toss, the ball was to be placed at midfield and have each team line up in their respective ends. The first team to recover the ball, after a whistle is blown, was to have choice of possession and end.

Dick Butkus, XFL Director of Competition, has cast some doubt on the new “coin-toss” format, and has commented that the XFL has not yet decided to use it. There is some question as to how the new format coin-toss will play out over the long run, and whether this new format will just be a race between the teams two speediest receivers.

The league will decide over the next two days whether the new style “coin toss” will be used.

— Mark Nelson – XFLBoard.com

We’ll Call it the Wild Thing

(21 November 2000) — There have been some good moments and some bad moments in this trip that we call the rise of the XFL.

This latest moment, brought to you by ESPN the magazine and Vince McMahon himself, has left most people baffled as to how it should be defined.

In the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine, Vince McMahon has quoted that XFL players not only will be allowed to date the cheerleaders, they’ll even be encouraged to do so. “Yes, our cheerleaders will date our players,” McMahon has said. “Yes, they’ll be hot babes … We’re going to have three or four of them surround our announcers — who’ll be sitting in the stands, by the way… then, when the quarterback fumbles or the wideout drops a pass — and we know who he’s dating — I want our reporters right back in her face on the sidelines demanding to know whether the two of them did the wild thing last night.”

Do the Wild Thing?

First, a note to the underage crowd reading this, “the wild thing” means mixing Pop Rocks™ and Pepsi Cola™.

Now the media is all over this interview. They are taking all sorts of tangents from this story, expanding in many different directions about what will happen when the first XFL game is played on the 3rd of February.

Those of us who have been following the XFL from the start know full well that when Vince McMahon did this interview he was doing what he does best – building hype for his new league.

It may be true that the cheerleaders will be featured more than in the NFL. Most of the XFL demographic looks forward to this aspect of the new league. One of the problems that the XFL has is that they are trying to break into a market dominated by the NFL, and the NFL has most of the marquee players that are in football today.

The truth is that the XFL has a real mountain to climb when it comes to building respect towards their product which will be on the football field come the 3rd of February. The XFL is looking for a trump card upon which to build their league. After all they are attempting to put this whole thing together in less than 12 months.

What they have come up with is WWF style “smack” talk. Of course, the mainstream media is eating this stuff up like crazy. In the past week, McMahon and his gang has been in most major media outlets in one way or another, whether it is the cheerleaders, the Jesse Ventura announcement or the ESPN article comments. And there is no such thing as bad publicity.

It will be interesting to see what the media will have to say in the final days leading up to the first XFL game. A good prediction is that most media reports, whether they be positive or negative, will have the public watching the game on the night of February 3rd.

Expectations will be high. Expectations will cover the entire spectrum.

Maybe some will watch for a chance to see a folding chair wielded on the sidelines or maybe to see a cage be lowered over the field. Others will watch just to see those ever so beautiful and sexy cheerleaders. Some others will be watching because they love the game of football and they want to be there just in case a game breaks out.

And Vince wouldn’t have it any other way. McMahon and his marketers in Stamford, CT are working hard to create a stir with this league. The remarks made in ESPN magazine were not a mistake. They were calculated comments made by a master showman.

You can bet that on February 3rd, while the frenzied media, the testosterone filled demographic and the starved football fans are watching the inaugural XFL game, Vince McMahon and his XFL cronies will be sitting back, lighting up big fat cigars and laughing all the way.

And we salute them.

If you are a football purist, don’t panic. On the 3rd of February, the football game will be real. There might be more to watch than the game though, so sit back, relax, light up yourself a big fat cigar, and enjoy the show.

Mark Nelson – XFLBoard Editor

QBs – Top of the Draft

Scott Milanovich – Chosen 1st Overall

(31 October 2000) – Six QBs were chosen in First Round of XFL Draft The management of all eight XFL teams sent out the same message on draft day: If you want to win a football game you need a good quarterback.

This is why the first seven out of nine selections were quarterbacks. Scott Milanovich, a 6-3, 220-pound quarterback, was the first player taken by the XFL. He was the all-time leading passer at Maryland and spent four seasons as a backup for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last year, he played for the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe.

Many other QBs were drafted from southern colleges. Casey Weldon, the No. 2 choice by the Birmingham Thunderbolts was “stellar” at Florida State and even finished second in Heisman Trophy voting during his senior year. But in eight seasons in the NFL, he played in just 31 games. The Memphis Maniax took Marcus Crandell of East Carolina, the Orlando Rage grabbed Jeff Brohm of Louisville and the Las Vegas Outlaws selected Chuck Clements of Houston.

The San Francisco Demons went against the grain by selecting running back Vaughn Dunbar of Indiana. However, the New York/New Jersey Hitmen returned to the pattern by selecting Charles Puleri of New Mexico State.

The Chicago Enforcers closed the first round by choosing running back John Avery of Mississippi. The Enforcers started the second round by taking a quarterback of their own, Paul Failla of Indiana (Pa.).

It wasn’t until the Hitmen’s second pick and 10th overall that a defensive specialist was selected. They chose Jermaine Smith, Linebacker, Gerogia State.

It wasn’t until the 206th pick, on the third day of the draft, that the Memphis Maniax selected much touted Rashaan Salaam, RB, Colorado. Another player that went later than expected was Jim Dunkenmiller, QB, Virginia Tech, who was taken 78th overall, also by Memphis.

The XFL.COM PASS Tracker

The PASS tracker at the official XFL web site worked well, but it gave the results to the draft a little slowly and laboriously. A user had to refresh the tracker to see the latest results. Unfortunately the tracker started from the first pick as soon as it was refreshed.

On Monday 30 Oct 00, with 340 picks made by XFL teams, the tracker became unmanageable for most users to see the picks in a timely fashion. The XFLBOARD.COM web site, which posting the day 3 results listed on a simple page, served out over 20,000 page views of the day 3 results alone.

Mark Nelson – XFLBoard Editor

The XFL Draft

(25 October 2000) — The XFL draft may prove to be one of the more exciting events that the XFL has staged on the road to its inaugural game on the 3rd of Feb 2001.

Over the weekend of 28-30 October, 2000, a total of 560 players will be picked from a draft pool reported to be over 1500. If you do the math you will see that unfortunately the draft will also prove to be a disappointment for over 900 players who will not be picked in this years draft.

Actually the draft has already begun with the territorial picks that happened last week. Each of the eight XFL teams was able to pick up to 11 players – with no team allowed to protect more than two quarterbacks.

The territorial draft schools for each team are as follows:

  • Birmingham: Alabama, Auburn and UAB
  • Chicago: Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame
  • Las Vegas: BYU, UNLV, Nebraska.
  • Los Angeles: San Diego State, S. California, UCLA
  • Memphis: Tennessee, Memphis, Mississippi State
  • New York: Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse
  • Orlando: Florida, Miami and Central Florida
  • San Francisco: Cal, San Jose State and Stanford

Once the picks are validated, the territorial players claimed by each team will be removed from a draft list that now exceeds 1,500 players.

The real XFL draft action begins Saturday in Chicago, with 10 rounds scheduled. A total of 80 players will be selected on Saturday.

The remaining rounds will be selected by teleconference during the next two days, with each team choosing a final total of 70 players for its preseason roster.

XFL
Draft: The Numbers Game
Draft
Picks
Per
Team
Total
Players
Territorial
Picks prior to 28 Oct
11
88
28
Oct Draft Day
10
80
29-30
Oct – Teleconferencing
49
392
Totals:
70
560

Mark Nelson XFLBoard Editor

Butkus Proves It

(20 October 2000) — Did the XFL lie to it’s fans?

After all, there are many fans who have stepped forward to support the Chicago Enforcers and even some who bought season tickets simply because Dick Butkus was going to be on the sidelines. Most XFL fans bought into the whole concept of Dick Butkus as a Head Coach. Were they lied to?

As fans learned yesterday, Butkus would not be coaching the Enforcers after all. He has stepped “up” into a job as the Director of Football Competition. Meanwhile a far more experienced coach, Ron Meyer, has taken his place at the Chicago sideline.

It was reported that Butkus was sullen during the press conference. Is this the attitude of somebody that just got promoted? It was also reported that this was a better fate for Butkus, rather than firing him in mid-season, which would be a bigger blow to fans. Is the league trying to tell us that it was just not working out? Did they say that they made a mistake and that they are going to correct things? No, they told us that Butkus was getting a promotion.

Simply stated, the XFL did not lie to it’s fans. The league never made any promises that Butkus would be “coach for life”. Anybody who knows sports can tell you that coaches come and go like the wind. However, the league has come across as liars to some.

This is mainly because the XFL markets everything so hard-core. When they have marketed their league, the sound bites and the rhetoric have been unyielding. When Butkus was hired, the press release went on at length to practically proclaim him “king”, the Head Coach of the Chicago Enforcers.

At the time it was exciting and fun, the fans ate it up. Looking back now, it now looks more like a steaming load of manure.

The marketing gurus at the league would have you know that this is the way things are done. It is their responsibility to take advantage of every opportunity to build up some PR for this new league. Fans and proponents of the XFL would have to agree with them. The XFL has a huge mountain to climb when it comes to gaining respect, every avenue to build hype should be explored.

Marketing. This is why the league sported an article called “Butkus Proves It” since July 22nd on the X-Zone, at the XFL web site at http://www.xfl.com,. It was an article about Dick Butkus, saying how he is going to be a such a hard-nose, smashmouth coach, just like Chicago is accustomed to… yada yada yada.

Marketing. Also the reason that the league hired a cessna to buzz soldier field during a Bears game with a banner declaring “Butkus is Back”. This was a good stunt, and worthy of the Butkus the fans came to know – Head Coach of the Enforcers.

Then, this week, Head Coach Butkus was no more. The much celebrated article, “Butkus Proves It”, was removed from the official web site on the day of his “promotion”. Butkus was given a new job: enforcing the rules – because he is such a good enforcer, since his playing days with the Bears, yada, yada, yada…..

Give us a break.

The XFL is going to make mistakes. It is only natural to expect some mistakes when you think of the magnitude of what they are attempting. The big questions is why don’t they admit to their mistakes?

Instead they state that they gave Butkus a “promotion”.

It’s unfortunate, with this type of guerilla marketing the casualties have been the fans. Butkus proves it.

Mark Nelson – XFLBoard Editor