It was 18-years ago. How well do you remember the XFL?

On 3 February 2001, Vince McMahon stood at the 50-yard line of Las Vegas’s Sam Boyd Stadium, and announced, “This is the XFL!”

The original XFL was launched on February 3rd, 2001, exactly 18-years ago today. To commemorate the anniversary, we present the XFL Quiz. It’s time to prove what you remember about the XFL. Be careful! You may find some of the questions to be a little tricky.

The Alliance between Dick Ebersol and Vince McMahon

Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol – Credit: ESPN Films.”Do you ever have any thoughts of trying again?” Dick Ebersol asked Vince McMahon on the This was the XFL special done for the ESPN 30 for 30 series. Vince McMahon without hesitation responded, “Yes I do.” Ebersol responded with, “We’ll have to do it with our own money because I don’t work at NBC anymore.”

To borrow a line from the critically acclaimed 30 for 30 series. “What if I told you… that in May of 2001 when the XFL folded, that both McMahon and the Ebersols would be back in the football league business 18 years later, but this time as competitors.”

TV and Sports Broadcasting Legend Dick Ebersol, once called Vince McMahon. “The greatest partner he has ever had.” The relationship went beyond just business and mutual respect. Dick Ebersol told his wife that if anything were to happen to him. He wanted Vince McMahon to be the legal guardian and watch over his three children, Teddy, Willie and Charlie. There’s no greater testament of love for someone than entrusting them with that honor.

On February 3rd of 2000, Vince McMahon announced the launch of the XFL. A bold move in a series of risk-taking moves throughout his legendary career. McMahon embarked upon creating a football league from scratch with no outside financial backing. He gave himself only a year to do it. Over a month later, Dick Ebersol and Vince McMahon called a joint press conference on March 31st 2000, to announce a 50-50 partnership with NBC as it’s broadcast machine. NBC was contracted to pay the XFL 50-million dollars per season.

From an innovation and broadcasting standpoint, this was a lethal combination. The XFL and NBC, through the vision of Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol, changed the way football was broadcasted forever. From the overhead “X Cam”, to the on field “Bubba Cam”, to the on-field audio access of players and coaches. Dick Ebersol and Vince McMahon revolutionized the game. Unfortunately, while the presentation was way ahead of its time. The actual football was way behind. Everyone knows how the story ended for the original XFL.

While the original XFL started off great, selling millions of tickets, and drawing astronomical ratings that actually beat the World Series that year, the league fumbled the ball on the football side of things. By the end of season one, the league had become an afterthought and laughing stock in the sports and television industry. Vince McMahon still wanted to forge on to year two. NBC didn’t. The hardest decision, Dick Ebersol ever had to make was to sever ties with what was a failing operation. He needed to convince McMahon not to fight it.

Vince McMahon was left holding the bag. He could have very easily held NBC’s feet to the fire. NBC was morally and legally obligated to honor their contract with the XFL. They owed the league 50 million dollars for year two. If Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol were just merely business partners, things could have gotten real ugly. McMahon could have and would have won any legal battles for what NBC owed him and his league.

To be fair, Ebersol and NBC weren’t alone in trying to end the XFL. The league’s top advertisers had bailed, and their other broadcasting partners like UPN/TNN, were hedging their bets and trying to leverage the XFL’s failings towards creating a stronger foothold on McMahon’s WWE. A singular grand vision that Vince McMahon planned to start and operate on his own, had been taken down by his broadcast marriages. McMahon reluctantly and begrudgingly waved the white flag.

Nearly 17 years after all of this, Vince McMahon decided that he was going to try it again, but this time. He would do it alone. No more 50-50 partners. He would be investing his own money, like Ebersol suggested, to the tune of half a billion dollars. It could be argued that this was an even bolder decision than the original XFL. McMahon was rebooting something that failed on a grand scale. The norm in entertainment is to reboot successful entities. Couple that with the fact that since May of 2001, other leagues had also come and gone, facing the same demise. Even the almighty NFL’s Europe league had died despite great financial backing. Other pro league hopefuls either failed to launch, or couldn’t survive like the United Football League.

McMahon was bringing back the XFL to a market place that had been deemed a dead zone. Why would anyone make another attempt at starting a pro football league? No one could have predicted that two months after McMahon’s January 25th relaunch announcement, that yet another spring pro football league would launch. The kicker? It was being founded by Dick Ebersol’s son Charlie. The league would be potentially going head to head with the XFL, with Dick’s son Charlie deciding to jump ahead and launch earlier than McMahon.

The XFL’s rise and fall had been documented by Charlie Ebersol, he often times would argue in defense of the league and would discuss how things could have worked, if handled differently. His admiration and the relationship between his father and Vince McMahon was a strong aspect of the 30 for 30 special. Many would argue and speculate that the XFL was reborn as a result of this special, but the special would also give birth to Charlie’s “Alliance of American Football.” A strange dynamic where Dick Ebersol would be a low-key advisor behind the scenes for his son’s league, that is now a direct competitor with Vince McMahon.

In two weeks, Charlie Ebersol is launching an 8-team spring pro-football league, with the help of NFL Hall of Fame Executive Bill Polian. The league like the original XFL, has been rushing into the market place. Giving themselves less than a year to launch. Despite taking a non-adversarial approach to the NFL, and suggesting that they could become a minor league for them. The AAF has taken a similar path to the original XFL. The league is finishing up a month-long joint training camp in San Antonio. One of the biggest failings of the original XFL, was how the quality of play suffered from teams having only 30 days to gel.

The AAF had a league wide QB draft in late November with designated quarterbacks switching teams just 2 months before game time. On their journey to opening, the league has lost a head coach in Brad Childress, three offensive coordinators in Jon Kitna, Hal Mumme and Hugh Freeze, and Birmingham assistant RB coach Cadillac Williams. Not a great start on the journey to providing quality football right out the gate. Like the original XFL, making a first impression will be key. Is Charlie’s league following the same exact flawed path that his father and Vince did?

The Alliance has some good business relationships. By comparison to the original XFL-NBC deal, the AAF has a scaled down network deal with CBS that sees just two of their games broadcast on network television. With all the other games on cable TV. Still a good deal for an upstart league. 2019 can provide so many more opportunities than 2001 did for an upstart league. From technology to gambling to fantasy football. As of this article, the AAF hasn’t launched any apps tied in to any of these aspects. The league website has not updated team or player bios but there is still time. There figures to be more promotion with the upcoming Superbowl on CBS, AAF’s current broadcast partner, with NFL Network rumored to be next on deck.

Both the AAF and XFL have stated that they are not direct competitors with the NFL, and that they’re just trying to present quality football for fans, when the college and NFL seasons have ended. Vince McMahon, learning through his mistakes of rushing into the league the first time, had decided to take a “slow and steady wins the race” approach, not launching until February of 2020. That strategy left the door open for someone to cut in front of him on the line. Little did he know that it would be his most trusted business partner’s son. Since Vince’s XFL relaunch announcement, leagues are coming out of the wood work and thin air to announce potential launches. The crazy idea of launching another pro football league is not so crazy anymore. Even Ricky Williams has emerged from a cloud of smoke to announce his own league.

The relationship between Dick Ebersol and Vince McMahon has led many to speculate, as to whether there could be yet another alliance between the Ebersols and McMahons. Despite Bill Polian’s desired goal of being a developmental league for the NFL, could the XFL and AAF eventually become partners in a joint league? Similar to the days of the 1960’s AFL/NFL merger. Supporting this theory is the fact that both leagues are in 16 different markets, with the AAF concentrated towards one side of the map, while the XFL is positioned strongly in big markets and on the east coast. The leagues aren’t competing with each other in the same markets. However, when it comes to players and coaches, the two leagues will end up competing directly with one another during the course of this year. The structure of the AAF’s 3-year contract is designed to directly prevent any of their players from playing in the XFL. Vince McMahon’s league will not have similar 3-year deals but they are offering their players more money to play in their league.

The pipe dream of a merger or joint partnership between the XFL and AAF remains a long shot, but it will exist until one or both leagues fold. The two leagues have to get to years two and three before any of these dreams can become a reality. In the meantime, the XFL is set to announce their own broadcast rights package in the coming week. They will be sitting on the sidelines, watching the AAF launch a week after the Superbowl. Will the AAF’s success or failure benefit the XFL?. There are arguments for either side. Regardless of what happens, the XFL is moving towards their 2020 launch. Where presumably, both leagues will be competing directly for attention in February of next year. Until then, Charlie Ebersol and the AAF has the game all to themselves.

As the original old saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Both the XFL and AAF are trying to learn from the mistakes of the original XFL’s past. The Ebersols and McMahon have a shared past, and now a shared future, but they are on opposite sides of the war…. for now.

One Last Look Back at the Original XFL

As XFL Representatives scout the future of pro football and their league, at this past weekend’s College All-Star games. I found myself thinking about the past and how surreal this whole XFL return thing really is. I keep having 2001 flashbacks.

Let’s jump back into Doc’s DeLorean one last time. The world was so different in 2001. Specifically, the online universe. Back then, if you were a fan, you only had chat rooms and message boards. There was no real coverage by sports media outlets. So, all the fans had was the league website, some newspaper articles, and some fan sites.

Sites like XFLBoard.com provided fans the opportunity to follow, interact and write about the league. No podcasts or internet shows. There weren’t even any weekly radio talk shows back then. The WWF at the time, was heading into the sports world and there was no real coverage of the league by the mainstream sports media. A sports franchise headed by a wrestling company didn’t really help create the impression of legitimacy. Alternative football leagues have a hard time, as it is, getting coverage by the mainstream media to begin with. Let alone a wrestling company. Any coverage of the original XFL was done so in a mocking fashion. After the first couple of weeks of the season, it was almost impossible finding any weekly highlights on ESPN or any serious recaps or analysis of the teams, players, or games on any sports media outlet.

An example of this was week one in the original XFL. As a sports fan for over three decades, I would be hard pressed to recall a more electrifying atmosphere for a season opener than the one that took place between LA and San Fran. When the San Francisco Demons defeated The LA Xtreme in their home opener at Pac Bell Park. San Fran won the game 15-13 with the clock running out. The over 38,000 fans that packed the stadium, were as loud as any group of fans, for any game I’ve ever witnessed. For a first-time league with mostly unknown players, to get that type of immersive response out the gate was unreal. The game wasn’t pretty but it was intense. A great back and forth game with tremendous drama. The presentation clicked on all levels. Some of it was over the top, but you actually felt like you were on the field and in the stands. If the XFL had opened their league on NBC with this game, the first impression of the league may have been different than the one created by the sloppy and one-sided Outlaws-Hitmen opener on NBC.

The league and The Demons-Xtreme game actually made the front cover of Sports Illustrated at the time. A great honor except that the XFL was blistered on the cover and inside the magazine. The headline read “Cheap Thrills”…. With the underneath caption reading “Will sleazy gimmicks and low-rent football work for the XFL?”…… It didn’t get much better inside the magazine. The drama, innovation and fun attached to the Demons-Xtreme game was mostly overlooked.

To be fair, some of the negative sentiment towards the XFL was warranted. The league puffed out it’s chest about being the big bad wolf and then got treated as such by the mainstream sports media. Nearly two decades ago, I actually got a chance to sort of become a part of that media, thanks to this very website, when I covered the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. Who knew back in 2001, that writing for a website that covered the league could get you access to games and a press pass to interview players and coaches?

Here I was barely in my 20’s, stepping inside a press box for the very first time, at what was then known as Giants Stadium. It was Week 7 of the XFL Season. Despite being 2 and 4, The Hitmen were still in contention for a playoff spot with 4 weeks to go in the regular season. The 3 and 3 Memphis Maniax were also involved in a playoff chase of their own in the western division. I was so excited and fully invested in the season. Despite the fact that the interest in the league was dying down even amongst its biggest supporters. I had been to every Hitmen home game and sat in the stands with the rest of my fellow tri-state football fans. The league may have been on its last legs heading towards it’s impending death but I was so caught up in the moment, that i wasn’t looking at the league as a gloom and doom operation.

With an XFL press credential in hand, I rode up the elevator into the press level at Giants Stadium. I had never experienced a game from this prospective. After proudly showing my press pass to a member of security, I headed into the press box. There was a decent number of local sporting press there. As is the custom, there is no cheering allowed in the press box. Hindsight being 20/20, I probably should have, but didn’t expect the lack of interest or enthusiasm from the press on hand. The scribes that were on hand, took more interest in the catered buffet than they did the actual game. It was a really nice layout but i was more interested in taking in the experience and following the game than getting second helpings of baked ziti.

The one league related conversation that I had with a reporter was how he had information on how the Chicago Enforcers were going to relocate to Milwaukee because of Soldier Field renovation later in the year. It turned out to be true. League reps were looking into different locations, had there been a second season. This reporter didn’t see year two even happening and had no real interest in this game or the XFL itself. I found out on this evening, first hand how unimportant and insignificant the XFL was to the local media.

The interest for me at that moment, while watching the field through a massive glass encasement in the press box was the actual game. The Hitmen had yet to win a home game. Despite that, NY/NJ could remarkably put their playoff hopes into their own hands by winning. The paid attendance for the game was 22,000 but the live attendance was only 15,781. The weather was bad but the crowd on hand was great. They were rewarded with a great last second victory, that saw the Hitmen score a touchdown late to win the game 16-15. The Memphis Maniax, despite having an up and down season, that eventually saw them finish at 5 and 5, came into this game with the league’s #1 ranked offense. They were kind of a Jekyll and Hyde type team. They would get off to great starts and then falter late in games. This would be the ammo, I needed when entering the team’s locker rooms after the game. I was so wrapped up in the league that when Birmingham lost to The Outlaws in the other Saturday night XFL game. I knew how that loss opened the door for the Hitmen to control their playoff destiny if they won out. A heartbreaking home loss to Chicago would eventually derail the teams hopes of making the playoffs by seasons end.

When the game ended, I headed to the team’s locker rooms. It was just me and a couple of other writers. They were looking to get it over with fast and for some quick sound bytes. I was looking for real reactions. The Hitmen were in good spirits after the game. When I informed New York Defensive Lineman Israel Raybon that the Bolts had lost. He enthusiastically responded, “We have it all in our hands now.”

When I headed into the visitor’s locker room. I knew that the other writers weren’t going to ask anything substantial. Here I was a 20 something year old kid, who was lucky to even have this type of access, getting ready to grill a seasoned and well-respected pro football veteran in Maniax Head Coach Kippy Brown. I was going to ask him why his teams had a tendency of collapsing late in games. In this particular game, Memphis led 15-3 before blowing the lead and losing. I had read in the buildup of the game, how Memphis players were talking about how hard Kippy was working them in practice. So, I attributed their late game collapses to it. It was probably not the greatest angle to take but at the time, it seemed plausible. Looking back, I was probably reaching a bit.

This is what I wrote on this very website back in 2001, of my exchange with Kippy Brown after the game. When asked if conditioning was a factor in his teams second half breakdowns, Brown took a defensive approach and stated, “These players aren’t working hard enough, ask them if they lost because they worked too much.” Boy, was Kippy Brown mad when I suggested his practices in pads may have been a reason for his team’s second half collapses.

Regardless, whether my analysis or questioning was off base or not, I was told by the players and coaches on that night, that they appreciated that a member of the “media” was taking their league and games seriously. Most of the players and football personnel that were involved in the original league were treated, as if what they were doing didn’t matter or wasn’t important. The old XFL is gone forever. While most see Version 1.0 as a failure, there are so many fans who see it differently, myself included.

With news coming out this week, that the XFL plans to unveil their television rights/digital streaming package in the next few weeks. Probably during Superbowl week. The league will be officially starting a new chapter. There are so many more ways for a product to get exposure in 2019, then there was back in 2001. It’s a vastly different media world. The league figures to be much different this go around. The coverage and treatment of it might still end up being the same, but it will be more accessible for fans to follow the league this time. No press pass needed.

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

Message to the Sports World: Don’t Write Off the XFL

(20 April 2001) — As the first ever XFL season comes to a closing, let’s take some time to recollect some of the many exciting moments of the inaugural season.

In the first televised game in XFL history, the game of football was presented to Sin City. In this opening day shutout, the world was introduced to none other than “He Hate Me”, Rod Smart. This nickname took off to become one of the most popular nicknames in modern day sports. And, although many people have come up with their own version of his nickname, Rod Smart proved that he was the one hated by many.

In the second weekend, names like John Avery, Tommy Maddox and Jermaine Copeland were uncovered as the Chicago Enforcers and Los Angeles Xtreme took it to each other for four quarters and two overtimes.

Week number three proved that Mike Pawlawski was one of the best quarterbacks in the league as he and Terry Battle fought back late in the game as the San Francisco Demons scored 13 points to defeat the Memphis Maniax.

Jim Druckenmiller introduced himself to the XFL world as the Memphis Maniax beat the Xtreme in what was the messiest and wettest game of the year.

In week number five, Jeff Brohm and the Rage proved themselves to be for real as they became the only 5-0 team in the league. This week also proved to be the turning point for the Chicago Enforcers regular season as a last second LeShon Johnson touchdown defeated the Dealers of Doom, Las Vegas Outlaws 15-13.

Thinking they were on a role, the Chicago Enforcers traveled to Memphis who soon brought Chicago back down to earth with a last second Druckenmiller touchdown pass to Hobbs. ‘Druck’ also passed for over 400 yards in week six.

On March 18, the Orlando Rage finally experienced what a loss felt like. At the hands of Tommy Maddox and the Xtreme, Orlando was demolished by a score of 31-6. Orlando also lost Jeff Brohm for the rest of the season, which later proves to be fatal to the team’s success.

Week number eight…the Birmingham Bolts become the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention and the Orlando Rage become the first team to clinch a bid for the million dollars waiting at the end.

Only two weeks left and the New York/New Jersey Hitmen need just one victory to clinch their play-off spot. But, the Enforcers have other plans as Kevin McDougal and LeShon Johnson carry the team into a second place tie in the East Division.

The final week of the season, and still three play-off seeds are open. Los Angeles and Chicago help themselves with big wins over San Francisco and Orlando, respectively. Due to a Las Vegas loss, San Francisco is in the play-offs as well.

The first ever XFL play-offs…as expected, these games proved to be exciting! Like usual, the XFL comes through again with tons of action as the San Francisco comes back from a 16-0 deficit to defeat the team with the best record, Orlando Rage. And, in the rematch of the best game of the Inaugural Season, the Chicago Enforcers literally hand the game over to the Xtreme in Los Angeles. This sets up a tie-breaker between the San Francisco Demons and Los Angeles Xtreme in the ‘Million Dollar Game’.

Recalling some of these games or moments might have given you goosebumps. As you know, all of the games in the first ever XFL season were very exciting and most of them came down to last minute touchdowns, or last minute turnovers. Even with a short, 10-week season, the XFL provided enough big plays and memorable moments to last a long time.

This league has a lot to be proud of as it broke barriers in many aspects of sporting broadcasts. Although it does not admit its liking of the XFL, NFL officials have gone on the record saying it will incorporate some of the great ideas the XFL has introduced to the game of football. The XFL must take pride in its accomplishments, look at its strong spots and improve its weaknesses, a task which is already under way.

Even though the Chicago Enforcers were beat by the Xtreme, I am proud of the effort my team put forth this season. Coming back from an 0-4 start to make the play-offs is no easy task. But, they did it and gave Chicago something to talk about in the sports society.

With one full season under our belts, we, the die-hard fans of the new football league, must all stand proud. The media was against us before we even started the season, and we stood tall drawing better television ratings than MLS, golf, NHL, arena football, NBA on NBC, the NHL All-Star game, and the NFL’s All-Pro game. More season tickets were sold in its inaugural season than what was anticipated, thus the league averaged an astounding 23,000 fans in attendance per game. Not bad for a start-up league!!

Personally, I am proud to be an XFL fan and will continue to wear my Chicago Enforcers gear in the off-season. I look forward to the day the Enforcers main office calls my house to ask me if I want to renew my season tickets…my response will be “Hell Yeah!” I am proud to admit that I was part of those 1.6, 1.7, etc television ratings every Saturday night on NBC and Sunday night on UPN. And, I will be the first one to stick it to the media when our league, the fans league, the XFL, makes its return in 2002.

As this article and the XFL Inaugural Season comes to an end, my friends, it is now time to go back to my “Chicago Fans Only Enforcers Supporters” article. To my team, the Chicago Enforcers, I now applaud for the effort you put forth this season making every minute of every game exciting. You turned a dismal season into one that opened the eyes of an entire league. And, although you fell short in the end, I continue to applaud and support the XFL…

…and, I ask those true, die-hard XFL fans to do this with me upon the completion of this Saturday’s ‘Million Dollar Game’. After the game, I will remove my Chicago Enforcers hat, tip it to Vince McMahon and his XFL staff for putting together such an awesome, entertaining football league, a league that actually cares about us, the people in the stands or watching on television. To Vince McMahon and his staff, I can’t wait until the second season.

And, to the rest of the world, don’t write off the XFL!

— Troy Pringle – ChiEnforcers1@xflboard.com

The XFL’s Xclamation Point On Saturday

The football experts predicted that LA would make it to the championship. San Fran wasn’t expected to be there.

(19 April 2001) — It’s been a wild season for the XFL. The misunderstood league has had a lot of ups and downs in it’s first year. No sports league has ever recieved more scrutiny then the XFL. The league is trying to carve out a niche for itself in a sporting world that is not willing to accept it. Saturday Night at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the LA Xtreme are pumped up to claim one million dollars and the XFL’s very first championship. They face the league’s most popular team and their California rival, the San Fransisco Demons. The football experts predicted that LA would make it to the championship. San Fran wasn’t expected to be there.

There are so many storylines developing for this game. The playoffs were a mild success for the league this past weekend. The ratings were up on both NBC and UPN. The NBC telecast went up 20 percent and the UPN game on Easter sunday went up 5 percent. With all that being stated, it appears that the Million Dollar Game will be the XFL’s final broadcast on NBC, at least in primetime. NBC, part owner of the league, has a iron-clad contract with the XFL for 2 seasons. If NBC were to part ways with the league, they would have to pay a penalty somewhere in the range of 10 to 30 million dollars. That sum would cover their end of the bargain for the second season of the XFL. Unless NBC moves the game to a better timeslot or to one of it’s cable partners. This is it, Saturday Night is most likely, the XFL’s final broadcast on NBC. They wanted the XFL to save saturday nights and to help replace their NFL loss. It didn’t work. The expectation level was too high for a brand new sports league.

So here we are, On NBC, Saturday Night at 8pm eastern, 5pm pacific, 1 million dollars is up for grabs and the future of these players pro careers is also on the line. The winner walks away with the XFL’s very first championship and 1 million dollars, the loser gets absolutely nothing. The pressure level will reach epic proportions on saturday night. The LA Xtreme and Demons have met twice this year. At Pac Bell Park in Week One, the Demons beat LA in dramatic fashion with a game winning field goal, in what was perhaps one of the XFL’s best games this season. In week 10, LA avenged that loss with a 24 to nothing shout out at home. Round 3 begins this saturday night with all the marbles up for grabs. The XFL’s offensive player of the year, Tommy Maddox has finally matured into a quality quarterback. The UCLA star left college at the tender age of 19 and was drafted by the Denver Broncos. He was brought in to eventually replace Denver Icon John Elway. Not a good situation for him. Maddox ended up as a backup for the Giants and Rams. He barely played and was jettisoned out of the league. The XFL and Al Luginbill provided Tommy Maddox with the opportunity to prove himself as a leader. Luginbill’s history with developing quarterbacks is very good. The evidence: Kurt Warner in NFL Europe. Maddox was not even projected as LA’s starter. The Xtreme selected Scott Milanovich with their first ever draft pick. Maddox outplayed him in camp and the rest is history. Tommy is now being courted by the NY Jets, the Chiefs and several other NFL teams. This may be his last ever XFL game. If he falls on his face, he may ruin his chance to get back to the NFL. Talk about pressure. The Xtreme is the league’s most talented team. No one would argue that point. The Xtreme wideouts are very talented and this will be their stage to prove themselves. Peyton Manning’s favorite target at Tennessee, Jeremaine Copeland has been the best pro wideout outside of the NFL the last two years. Copeland broke the pro record for receptions in a game last year with NFL Europe. This year, He has led the XFL in receiving. Copeland is joined by Kansas State Star, Darnell McDonald. McDonald averaged a touchdown a game this season thanks to his 6’4 220 pound frame. These two great young talents are joined by young NFL vets, Damon Gibson and Damon Dunn. In the backfield, Saladin McCollough is emerging as a great young back. He is backed up young NFL vets, Ken Oxendine and Rashan Sheehee. The offensive line is led by a monster in Jerry Crafts. The nearly 400 pound tackle has provided great protection this season along by his side has been good young pro prospects in Bobby Singh and Chris Brymer. The LA defense has NFL vets like Leomont Evans, Jamal Duff and Ron Carpenter but their strength is their youth. Al Luginbill attempts to add another championship this saturday to his mantle.

The most fascinating story by far in this game is Demons Head Coach, Jim Skipper. Skipper left a cushy job in the NFL as Giants assistant head coach/running backs coach to join the XFL. He left right before the 2000 NFL Season to pursue his dream. Skipper watched as his former team, the Giants got to a superbowl last year. Skipper left the Giants becuase he wanted so badly to become a head coach and in the NFL, the opportunity was not there for a great african american assistant like Jim Skipper. His dream was to be a head coach and he had waited long enough. He couldn’t wait anymore and now he has gotten the opportunity to live out his dream with the San Fransisco Demons. The XFL has been a dream league for hardcore football fans and for pro football players and coaches who want to showcase their skills. Skipper has done a fantastic job with his team. The Demons have been hampered by injuries to their roster all season long, but they battled through adversity to surprise the critics. The offense is led by California legends, Mike Pawlawski and Pat Barnes. Pawlawski has battled through serious neck injuries to get to where he is now. Barnes has been a quality NFL backup and he has proven himself as a starter in college and NFL Europe. It looks like Skipper has a tough decision to make at Quarterback if Pawlawski is healthy. Barnes was fantastic last week in Orlando and it will be hard to sit him for this game. The Demons offense has been riddled with injuries but they have found alot of good young talents for the future in Calvin Anderson and Brian Roberson. Their passing attack runs through CFL Star, Jimmy Cunningham. The 5’7″ star has always played bigger then his stature and he is one of the league’s most exciting players. The San Fran defense has also played well this year and they are led by NFL veterans like Craig Powell, Dwayne Harper and Toby Wright. Their young defensive stars like Eric England, Jermaine Miles and Wendell Davis have also played extremely well. The football coaching and playing talent is there on both teams and their dreams and hopes have come down to this big game.

This is it, the final showcase for the XFL in year one. The stakes are high for both teams on so many levels. In a way, the XFL has one final chance to show what the league is all about. This is their showcase game. It could be the final XFL game for many of these players. Some will move on to the NFL. Some will be let go next season. For the league as a whole, People have been told to expect a second season. NBC or not. It remains to be seen whether or not, the XFL will continue on. If they don’t have a second season. Then Saturday will be their last ever game. The Xclamation point of a wild year and the Xclamation point to yet another football league.

— Mike Mitchell – MMitchell@xflboard. com

The Sports World Hates The XFL

They hate us? or They Hate We?…… The Sporting World has made their agenda well known. They have two words for The XFL…. GO AWAY!…… Ever open your local newspaper or listen to your local sports radio? If you are looking for coverage of your favorite XFL team, Good luck! The only attention that the XFL gets is negative attention. The games are not taken seriously and the players and coaches are ignored. The sporting world has had a field day with the XFL’s ratings. Here are two numbers for you: 1.2 and 1.1. Those are The NHL’s ratings on ABC. I don’t see too many press releases on those stats. Anybody ever hear about NFL Europe ratings? Well I’ll tell ya, NFL Europe averaged a 0.3 on Fox Sports Net last season. Where’s the press on those figures? Have the XFL’s ratings been good? No, but are they comparable to other sports franchises? Yes.

Here are some more fascinating figures…Major League Soccer.. 0.2, Golf average 2.0 this year, NBA average on NBC, 2.3, Arena Football ratings average 0.2. Outside of Tiger Woods, Nascar, NCAA Finals and the NFL. Sports ratings are in a slow period. Let’s face it, the XFL has made alot of mistakes and their ratings have been a huge dissapointment. Last week, the XFL on NBC drew a 1.5. Only 1.4 million viewers watched the broadcast. The game only ranked 14th out of the top 20 rated sports programs on television. The UPN telecast ranked 19th. The XFL made alot of mistakes and hopefully as a brand new league they can fix their mistakes.

It’s a fact. History dictates that the only football that Americans want to see is the NFL and College. Even the mighty NFL failed miserably in trying to create a spring football league in the United States. Remember the World League of American Football. It lasted two years and is now known as NFL Europe. The CFL tried to expand to American teams. That didn’t work either. Everybody knows the story about the USFL. They tried to compete with The NFL head on and they lost big time. There have been many other spring leagues that have come and gone. The Arena League has survived as a small time league with unique features. Their attendance averages about 7,000 but it’s not pro football. It’s 50 yard ball in small arenas. The XFL, quite frankly, is trying to do something that has never been done. No 2nd US Pro Football League has made it since the AFL (now AFC) in the sixties. You can thank Joe Namath for that one.

The media points out the quality of the football. Eighty-three percent of the players in the XFL have spent time with NFL teams. Seventy-eight percent of the XFL’s players are 29 and younger. The XFL players are college all stars, NFL rookies and draft picks, NFL Veterans slashed because of the cap, CFL stars, Arena League stars and NFL Europe stars. All the media has to do is research the teams. I’m not making this stuff up. The information is available. Take a look at the rosters for yourself. The coaches have the same type of resumes. Recently a poll conducted with NFL employees shows that 89 percent of them support The XFL. The NFL of course, doesn’t want any of it’s employees coming out to make good remarks about the XFL. CBS president, Les Moonves has gone on record stating that he wants to use XFL features in next season’s NFL broadcasts.

For all the talk by the media about Vince McMahon’s entertainment shows, Dick Ebersol, NBC and the cheerleaders, the media has never bothered to focus on the players, coaches or the way that the XFL treats it’s fans and viewers. How many friendly stories have you seen about the XFL? Not many and if you have the positive publicity has come from NBC employees, XFL employees and the fans that have experienced the games. The last part of that group is all that really matters, the fans. This season, the XFL gave fans free trips to follow their teams. Some fans were even allowed on the field when a team won. A selected fan was granted a 2,500 dollar bonus. Now if that’s not catering to the fans. I don’t know what is. How often are sports fans treated like garbage. Hey if your favorite NFL team goes 7 and 9 get ready for a ticket increase. The same goes for other sports franchises. Not one media outlet mentioned how the XFL treated it’s fans. How many sports teams do you know that you would give you 2,500 dollars if your team won? When Chicago fans came out in a monsoon to watch their team the XFL gave those fans free tickets for the next home game. How cool is that! That’s why XFL games average 23,000 fans per game. Not bad for a startup league with bad or no publicity.

As a football fan, I want to see The XFL make it. I think it’s a shame that only 1,800 football players get to play pro ball in the states with The NFL. The XFL gives players and coaches a chance to showcase their skills in this great country. So many great young players get overlooked when they get out of college. Some have bad luck and get injured in the NFL and they never get another chance to play pro ball. The XFL gives players and coaches, the opportunity to prove themselves. Some players will benefit from having played in The XFL. They will move on to The NFL and get another chance to make it. The same goes for the coaches. Be on the lookout for Hitmen runningbacks coach, Joe Lombardi, and yes he’s related to the great Vince himself, the man, NFL’s very championship is named after, Vince Lombardi.

As for the fans, the XFL has been a fan friendly league that is willing to listen to us. They have screwed up in alot of instances but the effort has always been there. The rules and TV features have been great. There is still alot of room for improvement in certain areas. There will be alot of structural changes in the off-season. I don’t know if this league is going to make it. History tells me that it won’t, but I hope that it does. The league is a breath of fresh air and I hope that other sports leagues take notice and use some of the features and practices that Tthe XFL does.

I have a feeling that the sporting media will continue to ignore this league in the hopes that it will all go away. These same types made fun of the ABA’s 3 point shot. These same types ragged on the AFL’s teams, uniforms and rules. It’s not a good idea to walk around life with a closed mind, I remember a certain group of critics that told Christopher Columbus that he was a fool. They told him that the earth was flat and that his mission as pointless. Thank god, Good Ol’ Chris didn’t pay attention to the critics.

Mike Mitchell – mmitchell@xflboard.com

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.