What Did You Expect From the XFL?

By Mike Mitchell

The XFL is simply a sporting event in a fashion that you have never seen before. It’s an experiment that’s ahead of its time in broadcast sports. It’s a league where team is more important then individuals. A league where success is rewarded and failures are reported. It’s a league that is free and fresh. A league where sports meets reality TV and where sports meets entertainment.

(1 March 2001) –The XFL has become a punching bag.

Never in the history of American sports has a sporting league been more scrutinized by the media and the public. When The XFL debuted, The sports media expected a three-ring circus. The public expected the most radical sporting league in history. The expectations were high and low.

The question is did both parties get what they expected?

The sports media wants this league to fail. After watching the inaugural broadcast of The XFL on NBC, the media needed only to decide what angle they were going to take. They were going to rip it all along regardless of the outcome or performance.

If cheerleaders were featured heavily, the XFL would have been signified as smut. The cheerleaders in the XFL are no different then any other sports team cheerleaders. So the media couldn’t use that angle to bash the league. Even though some still use that as an excuse.

When the play was proven to be legitimate and not scripted like a movie, television or wrestling. The sports media needed another angle. They went with “this is not the NFL” and why should anyone watch.

Believe it or not, the media has a huge role in painting the public’s perception. Not to say that the public can’t think for itself but the media has control to spin a story and make anyone look good or bad – whatever they want.

In this society, perception becomes reality. If the XFL is perceived by the media to be a league full of semi-pro football failures. Then the public will buy that line. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just look at the backgrounds of all the players in the league. If the media were to do their research, then they’d see the truth, but rest assured they wouldn’t mention it. Instead, The public is fed their agenda motivated garbage.

The public expected the XFL to be something different then any sports league that they have ever seen. Instead, what they got really was football with alot of entertainment features.

The entertainment fans wanted to get what they get out of the WWF. The WWF is kind of an entertainment hybrid. It’s a comic book, it’s cartoonish, it’s a live action, live theatre soap opera within sports setting. When one watches the WWF, they get athleticism, comedy, action, drama, violence and sexuality. WWF fans love the company because it’s a fast paced fantasy world that’s over the top but has the strong human elements of love, hate, competition and betrayal. It’s really a variety show and not just staged wrestling matches.

The WWF fan wanted to see an extreme football league with the same “out of this world” features that the WWF has. The live WWF shows have a rock concert feel. The XFL does not give WWF fans what they want. The XFL has some sexuality, But the stories are not strong enough yet and in the end despite all the fan friendly features, It’s just a football game.

The sports fans want to see good football and many of them expected the XFL to be entirely different then the NFL. The NFL is the king of sports franchises to a sports fan. Nothing can touch it. The sports fan watched the XFL to see if they can get into a new league. The XFL in some cases has provided football from a fresh new perspective but sports fans simply can’t get into a league where they have no loyal ties to any of these players or teams. They expected harder hitting football. The XFL takes you closer and lets you hear all the hits but besides that it’s really not that much more violent then NFL hits. Many of the Sports fans are familiar with some of the players because of their strong college backgrounds but the majority of them are clueless to the origins of the XFL players.

Did the sports fan and public get what they expected? No. Too much football for some not enough football for others. The XFL isn’t the NFL to sports fans. The XFL isn’t the WWF to wrestling fans. It’s hard to please people with those expectation levels.

What is the XFL then?

The XFL is simply a sporting event in a fashion that you have never seen before. It’s an experiment that’s ahead of its time in broadcast sports. It’s a league where team is more important then individuals. A league where success is rewarded and failures are reported. It’s a league that is free and fresh. A league where sports meets reality TV and where sports meets entertainment. Has NBC and WWFE combined those elements perfectly yet? No. Will they successfully put those elements together? Time will tell.

What did you expect?

NY-NJ Hitmen GM Drew Pearson Comments on the XFL

By The Masked Prognosticator

(13 February 2001) — For those out there who think the XFL has not gone mainstream should have listened to the Mike and Mad Dog Show on New York’s top rated sports talk station, WFAN 660-am on Monday. Despite the Big Apple featuring eight major league sports teams, including two that won a title and one that fell short of such, the talk of the town was obviously the New York-New Jersey Hitmen.

The main attraction of today’s show was NY-NJ GM Drew Pearson. Pearson, who called in, is a former Dallas Cowboys All-Pro receiver who started a very successful sports headwear company upon retiring. That business indirectly landed him the XFL gig.

Among some of the more interesting remarks Pearson made on today’s show:

Pearson was asked if he was bitter about not getting a break in the from office of the NFL after retiring…

In 1985 Pearson was an assistant coach and scout for the Cowboys. He thought this would be his “in” in the NFL. Unfortunately, that did not take place, but he said any bitterness he has in not succeeding in the NFL: “That is a non-issue now.”.

Interestingly, Mike and the Mad Dog kept pressing Drew as to whether or not he harbors ill-resentment to the NFL. He sounded like he has bitterness in his voice, but said he had ” . . been bitter.” but kept emphasizing he was not now. He said “I’ve done everything you would want . . .said the right things . .” but still could not the big break he thought he deserved in the NFL.

Pearson was asked if the XFL player thought the all-access cameras were intrusive…

Pearson said “If they had a problem with it, they needed to express it at that point” (when they were signed by the XFL).

As expected, Pearson was drilled about the talent level of the XFL…

Pearson pointed out that when he entered the NFL in the 1970s, he was an unsigned, undrafted free agent, and was picked among 100 guys in the Cowboys training camp. (and eventually went on to be a great receiver) Asked if there was a “short list” or what backup there was should several players get injured, Pearson admitted the talent pool out there right now was “severely limited”.

In a remark that could bear research, he did say that “100%” of the talent in the XFL had NFL experience of some kind, though this included training camp rejects.

He remarked that the quality of play “is not surprising to me” and “can improve, and will improve”.

He pointed out that the players were together for only 5 weeks and “It takes a long time . . . it binds trust and loyalty, knowing that your teammate is going to carry out his assignment. He pointed out that this is the reason the NFL’s quality of play has suffered some because some players don’t keep their players long enough. At least in the XFL, because every team is in the same boat, every team is on a “level playing field”.

When asked about New York’s pathetic QB situation…

Drew Pearson reminded the hosts, tongue in cheek of course, that he used to play quarterback.

Pearson also recounted how he got involved in the XFL…

He was a licenser of NFL headware, for which he paid $7,000,000 for the rights to the league.

He eventually became the sole distributor of WWF headwear, and that is how he hooked up with Basil DeVito and Mike Keller. When he was convinced that the XFL “was not going to compete with the NFL” and that it would be “real football” he signed on for the Hitmen job.

What was encouraging about the broadcast…

After the interview, the hosts did not get into the quality of the XFL. In typical New York fashion, the main topic seemed to be whether or not the Hitmen should get rid of Chuck Puleri.

Unnecessary Roughness

By Madd Max – Maniax Tream Reporter

(7 February 2001) — What a weekend for the XFL. Vince McMahon’s brainstorm has television network executives turning their heads. Whether you are for or against the XFL, you have to hand it to Mr. McMahon, the opening weekend ratings were better than you can imagine.

ESPN (a.k.a. Eggs Stain Protruding Noses) came out and said they would not cover the XFL, and had ESPN radio personalities warning callers that they would not discuss the league on air. Tsk, tsk…ESPN is now showing highlights, albeit negative ones. The 9.5/17 share ratings were higher than even Vince projected, and with all the talk around office water coolers, there is a chance that those numbers are reachable again this weekend. When all the bugs are worked out, Vince really may have that grinch-like smile permanently.

Inaugural weekend observations:

Overall consensus for odd camera angles: use them, but less often…..On field interviews: maybe at half-time, not during play…..Cheerleaders: more like strippers in uniforms-but hey, what’s wrong with that?…..Xtreme trash talking leads to hoof in mouth disease…..Rage and Enforcers put on quite a show to a full house…..Hitmen fans will not tolerate a slow start…..Demons made fans Xtreme-ly happy with a great show at Pac Bell…..Las Vegas hasn’t rocked like that since the King disappeared…..Maniax ground out and old time football win…..Bolts hung tough…..Shame on ESPN…..Kudos to NBC, TNN, UPN and the Governor!

It’s Real Football

By Sonny Sanders – XFLBoard.com Bolts Team Reporter

Birmingham – (6 February 2001) — I have to admit that in the beginning I was a skeptic. I was wary of the XFL. I was fully aware of the WWF and the fact that it is a predetermined event. It’s fake. I was not sure if the XFL would be a joke or at best a NFL parody. Nothing more than a play toy for Vince McMahon. Slowly the XFL is proving that it is a legitimate football league. McMahon claimed that it would be old school football but displayed in a high tech manner. Still doubts lingered. Then things started to change. NBC jumped on board and dropped millions dollars into the league. NFL-Europe coaches and players were interested. Current and former NFL players wanted to become a part of the NFL. Finally Las Vegas laid down the odds.

Even though the XFL has instituted less than serious rule changes, it is still being taken seriously. Vince McMahon counters all questions by explaining how much better the XFL will be in presenting the game while telling us all that the XFL is not in competition with the NFL. The fact is that they are in competition. The XFL may also be wining some of the battles. Soon after the XFL announced a few of the ideas for covering the game the NFL adopted the “Ref Cam” and “Eye-Vision”. Still Vince tells us that the coverage in the XFL will blow us away and change the way the game is displayed forever.

The money that Vince McMahon and NBC have spent on the XFL has proven, in my opinion, that they are serious about making the XFL work. It is not the NFL and doesn’t try to be. The XFL does consider the talent to be below the NFL but that the entertainment value is beyond the NFL.

I’m sold. The XFL is good entertainment. Will it make the people in Birmingham forget Auburn and Alabama? UAB? No. It will however give football fans three more months of good football and fill the gap in an otherwise dead period.

Is the XFL real football? Yes. Is it good football? Yes.

Before anyone assumes that this is an XFL love fest let me say that some things need to improve. The broadcast of the games was a little sloppy. The announcers are not going to win any awards and camera angles were disorienting at times. There were problems with seating and concessions at some stadiums. These problems are not major issues but should be addressed to improve the look and feel of the game. There are mixed reviews on the “Scramble for the Ball” instead of a coin toss and the sideline interviews were useless.

Overall I would rate the first ever broadcast for the XFL as well done with room for improvement. The action on the field was good. Not close to the NFL but better than college level. With dedication and an overall good decision making by the XFL has made me a fan. Forget that Vince McMahon is the man behind the curtain. If you love football sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

How to “Save” the XFL

Should the XFL be using more tough guy interviewers and color commentators like Jesse Ventura to promote it’s unique brand of football?

By the Masked Prognosticator

(27 February 2001) –– With steady crowds in some cities, stabilizing ratings, and a dedicated hardcore fan base, the death of the XFL has been greatly exaggerated.

The ratings have declined but you knew that going in, though their rapid decline is troubling.

Rumors abound that NBC will soon dump the XFL. I doubt it. With tens of millions of dollars invested, and no football contract with the NFL, the XFL should a home on NBC.

However, I feel strongly that the XFL’s days in NBC’s Saturday night lineup are numbered, and that is fine. The XFL belongs on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, not competing for prime time ratings.

Even the NFL, NBA, baseball and NHL are NOT on prime time network television from fall to spring- except for playoff and All-Star games. With the exception of Monday Night Football, regular season pro sports do NOT draw on prime time TV except for in the summer against reruns. Isn’t it a bit much to ask the fledgling XFL to do the same?

NBC dropped the ball with it’s XFL strategy. The right move would have been to show the first game on prime time, grab a portion of the large audience, THEN in week 2 broadcast on a day slot. You grab the headlines and publicity of the great ratings number, then save face in week 2 when all the curiosity seekers don’t tune in.

Now, you have no-win situation where NBC may be forced to embarrass themselves and Vince McMahon by “canceling” the XFL on prime time.

Don’t worry- when the axe falls, the core audience, the 2.0 18-30 year old demos, will follow the XFL no matter what time slot you put it on. And even if NBC dumps the league altogether, an improbability since they are under contract, TNN and UPN should be happy with 2.0 ratings.

What we have learned is that the XFL will NOT be a mainstream phenomenon for right now. It’s place is among successful cult TV shows on the lines of pro wrestling, Battle-bots and American Gladiators. Once NBC relegates the XFL to that status, the question will then become can the league stay profitable, but that’s a story for another day.

Then there are the critics and the media. The fact that the media have destroyed the XFL is not shocking. Think about it. You are a sports beat writer. Your living depends on getting access to NFL football players and locker rooms. You put over the threatening XFL, your certainly are NOT going to be as over with the Jerry Jones and Danny Snyders of the world. See under “press pass revoked”.

But enough rationalization. I’m not just an XFL writer, but I also am a fan, and I am willing to face reality. The XFL has many flaws, and it is an endangered though certainly NOT extinct species. With some fine tuning, I think the XFL can be a huge hit for a very, very long time. Here’s my 2 cents:

CASH IN ON THE $1 MILLION DOLLAR GAME SHOW CRAZE

Frankly, I can not believe the XFL with all it’s brilliant marketing never caught on to this. What is the grand prize for the team that wins the Big Game at the End?

$1 million dollars!

What are the two top rated TV shows of the past year and a half?

“Survivor” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.

Their Grand Prizes?

Yup. Of course the answer is $1 MILLION DOLLARS!!!!

The XFL has done a POOR job at promoting this. They’ve done a a decent job of reminding the fans that these are NOT all major league players, just good football players who are regular guys trying to win 2500 bucks each week. But what XFL’s Marketing Department has forgotten is that the XFL really is NOT a football league- it is a GAME SHOW.

Why not each week, in the promos, REMIND the viewers that $1 million is ultimately at stake? In their commercials, repeat like a mantra, “$1 million, 1 million”. Trust me, it’s a marketing hot button in our country right now. Can you say “Who Wants to MARRY a Millionaire”? Top selling book: “The Millionaire Mind”.

How about this commercial? Have an announcer say “Who wants to be a Millionaire?”. Then have some XFL players, covered in mud, sweating, during a game, one after another, say “I do!” into the camera. Intersperse the commercial with footage of the hardest XFL hits you can get, with the message being that these guys are playing this hard because they want to win the jackpot! Or whatever, but you get the idea.

I say screw the $2500. As the Boz might yell . . “Let’s talk 7 figures, BABY!!!!”.

GET TOUGH GUY INTERVIEWERS

I loved what Jesse Ventura did with Rusty Tillman Saturday night. Rusty, not a wrestling personality, didn’t play along, but the Body was great doing his pro wrestling shtick.

Except for Michael Barkan, who does a great job getting in the players faces, most of the time it’s some wimpy reporter asking the coach a wussy question then getting a crummy response. Or better yet, tough guy coaches throwing papers in the interviewers faces and threatening them.

Why not have more Jesse asking the tough questions? How about guys like Mr. T? Or Ken Shamrock? Or some washed up boxer like Michael Spinks?

I’d love to see Rusty Tillman pick a fight with them! How great would it be to see Tank Abbott ask Kippy Brown how bad he feels that his play calling is going to cost his players $2500 each (and of course, a shot at the $1 million?).

Here’s another idea. Let’s say a player makes a bad play and the fans start booing. Why not stop the game and let Chuck Zito run out to the field and get in his face?

Also, referees should be called to the carpet immediately by reporters after making questionable calls.

LAY DOWN THE LAW WITH UNCOOPERATIVE COACHES

Chuck Puleri getting into it with the New York fans over the house mike was one of the best moments in the XFL. Then Rusty Tillman gets all over him! Next week, Rusty runs off the field and refuses to talk to Jesse Ventura.

Look, when you are trying to coach a team, the sideline reporters are very distracting. They need to respect that these guys are trying to win. But guys like Rusty need to get into the act more. The coaches and the players KNEW when they signed what the deal was.

McMahon needs to send out a memo: Coaches, let your players have fun. Do the interviews, even if you are pissed. Or next season, it’s back to Arena 2.

By the way, just as an aside, sideline reporters- GIVE THE GUYS A COUPLE MINUTES TO CATCH THEIR BREATH!

DON’T INTERVIEW EVERYBODY

If there is a huge, glaring flaw with the XFL, it’s that Vince McMahon thought that his football players would have great personalities and become big stars. What he forgot is that unlike the WWF wrestlers, football players are NOT trained on how to give interviews.

Spend more time with Chuck Puleri or trash talking Mike Pawlawski, even if they don’t make a big play or mistake. Identify who gives great comments and who does not, and make sure only the right personalities get on camera.

Hand out a $2000 bonus to the player or coach that gives the best interview of the week. I’d bet THAT would inject a little personality in some of these guys!

CHANGE THE RULES IN MID-SEASON

Why not? This is the XFL. Like J.R. said, it’s “work in progress” This is Vince McMahon’ league. He with NBC owns all the teams. He doesn’t have to answer to a Rules Committee or a Board of Governors.

Why not throw in some rules to make the games more interesting? They did in week 2 after J.Lo had a hissy fit! If they can do it for her, why can’t they do it for themselves and the fans?

It was the curiosity factor that gained the XFL 10 rating points in the first place. Wouldn’t some wild ass rule changes bring some of those curiosity seekers back?

How about a 12th Man Rule. For one play and one play only during a game, either team may run a play with 12 men on the field. Or announce for one weekend only, the team that outscores the other by the most points gets an additional $1000 bonus?

How about with only three games left in the season, you announce that whichever team wins the most of the remaining games, regardless of the current standings, gets an extra bonus and their city gets to host the Big Game (though I feel the BG should be held on the home field of the finalist with the best record). Or the #1 draft pick. If there were more teams, how about a fifth playoff spot?

Whatever. This would get teams like possibly 0-7 Chicago something to play for.

Here’ my all time favorite rule change idea: the 3 point conversion. After scoring a touchdown, say a team is still down by 2 or 3 points. They can run a play from the 35 yard line or kick an extra point from the 50. If successful, they get 3 extra ticks!

If you have a matchup between two low scoring teams, such as Las Vegas vs. Chicago, announce that field goals will be worth only 2 points each for that game only. You can think of a thousand ideas.

After all, this is the XFL. If it’ going to be extreme football, MAKE IT EXTREME!!

Hey, “Survivor” has a different contest each week, right?

Look we don’ expect the XFL to implement these ideas (though, as a fans league, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did!). But the message is clear: SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE.

What are your thoughts? You can email the Masked Prognosticator at NFLXFLtout@aol.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

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

The Final XFL Player Selection Process

(16 October 2000) — The XFL draft is coming up in two weeks. It is time to take a breather and reflect on how the final months of preparation will be for the XFL teams.

The question that many people have been asking is this: How will the XFL go from where they are now to having eight fully staffed teams?

In the next two weeks, each team will be identifying their territorial players. Each XFL team has been assigned a total of three schools from which they may automatically claim players. Before the actual draft, each team will probably have already selected between 10-15 players.

The XFL league meeting is scheduled for Chicago on 26-28 October 2001. On the 28th of October the draft will take place. At the end, a total of 70 players will be selected by each XFL team.

The XFL has tentatively scheduled two mini-camps for each XFL team this fall, to be held in their respective cities. These camps will be held on 13-20 Nov 2000 and 11-18 Dec 2000.

XFL Training camps will run from January 2nd, 2001 until January 28th, 2001. From the 70 players that were initially drafted the teams will cut to 63 players on January 14th 2001 and then to 55 players on January 21st, 2001. On January 28th, 2001, final XFL rosters will be announced with 38 active players and 7 practice squad players.

XFL Player Selection Overview

  • Prior to 28 Oct 00 – Protected players from territorial schools selected.
  • 28 Oct 00 – XFL Draft. Each team to pad rosters to 70 players.
  • 13-20 Nov 2000 – XFL Mini-Camp #1
  • 11-18 Dec 2000 – XFL Mini-Camp #2
  • 2 Jan 2001 – Training Camp Starts.
  • 14 Jan 2001 – Rosters trimmed to 63 players.
  • 21 Jan 2001 – Rosters trimmed to 55 players.
  • 28 Jan 2001 – Final XFL rosters announced with 38 active players and 7 practice squad players.

Mark Nelson – XFLBoard Editor