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

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

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

Lights… Camera… Action. Real Live Action!

(26 September 2000) — I was at an airport last year waiting for a connecting flight, and waiting out the time by spending it in the airport bar, and having a very expensive, but cold and refreshing beer. On the bar television was wrestling. No, not Olympic wrestling, but WWF wrestling.

A middle aged woman, sitting in the next table was watching the television with a dumbfounded look on her face. She turned to me and asked, “Is that real.” She had a thick British accent, and when I inquired sure enough she was not from North America. I took the opportunity to explain to her what she was watching.

Sure enough, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The “faked” wrestling matches, the behind the scenes bickering, the scantly clad women and the ridiculous storyline were all too much for her.

Flash forward one year. The same people who brought us WWF Wrestling will now be bringing us the XFL. Here we go again! Faked football games, ridiculous storylines and behind the scenes bickering. We’ll see all of this, won’t we?

This is a very confusing subject right now. If you believe the mainstream media the XFL will consist of the same type of action as in the WWF. Wrestlers will be quarterbacking the teams and the women of the WWF will be providing the cheerleading. Of course, this is yet another steaming load of manure served up by the media to the hungry masses. But where does the media get it’s ideas?

Partially from the league itself. For example, Vince McMahon has gone on record to state that the players would be encouraged to date the cheerleaders. The XFL has also promised us the same sort of scantly clad women that the WWF shows. This all sounds like great fun and games for the XFL’s target demographic: 18-25 year old men. But, it does not mean that there will not be honest to goodness football taking place on the field.

The XFL is very busy hiring real football players. There will be no need for a wrestler to play quarterback when the teams will have real players with professional and college experience. The league has also hired real coaches who have previous experience coaching real football clubs. Let’s get real. Men like Jim Criner (Las Vegas) and Gerry Dinardo (Birmingham) are not going to perform from a script. They will operate from a playbook.

Still, I fully expect some sort of WWF style hi-jinks to take place on the XFL telecasts. Why? Because this league will be totally different from what we have come to expect. There is no doubt that an average XFL broadcast will top anything the NFL has done. The players will be less talented than the NFL, but the fan’s experience will be greater.

The NFL is very busy right now miking their players and providing “extreme” camera angles for the home viewers. Shoot! They even hired Dennis Miller to do color commentary on Monday nights. Does anybody else think that lately the NFL sounds desperate?

To top it all off, even though the NFL is not sure of the exact nature of what the XFL will unveil on February 3rd, 2001, they are quickly retooling their broadcasts.

In case anybody from the NFL is reading this, here is a tip. Go to your boardroom and see if you can match this: The XFL will be about football. Real live football. The rest of the programming will be brought to you by the same guys who brought you the Undertaker and the Rock.

Should be easy to copy, right? The NFL already has real live football. But what about the entertainment value?

Of course, the NFL has Dennis Miller! He should be able to come up with something new and fresh.

Mark Nelson – XFLBoard Editor

Sixty-Seven Days in San Jose

The XFL has announced it will move the “Demons” franchise to Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco.

(18 September 2000) — The day was Monday the 10th of July, 2000. The headline on XFLBoard.com had read: Do you know the way to San Jose? We’d like to think that this 1968 Burt Bacharach song title had something to say about the XFL decision to start-up a franchise in this progressive bay area city.

Almost ten weeks later the franchise was moved to San Jose’s “big brother” — San Francisco. To coin another song title, this time from Dean Martin, “Ain’t that a kick in the head”.

The reasons for the move are plentiful, according to the XFL. For starters, they never did come to a deal to play in Spartan Stadium. Secondly, the new stadium in San Francisco, Pacific Bell Park, is much better for the Demons franchise mostly because it will hold many more fans.

But hold on a minute! The XFL did not have a deal with Spartan Stadium? Didn’t the 10 Jul 2000 press release say that the San Jose Franchise would play in Spartan Stadium. We checked our records. The title of the press release is “XFL Confirms Team for San Jose: Spartan Stadium to Host Home Games.”

So the XFL made a mistake. Mistakes are allowed, right?

From our experience with XFL fans here on XFLBoard.com, there are a few cities which have rallied around their new XFL franchise: Birmingham, Memphis, Chicago and San Jose. San Jose fans have been a fixture on this site since the announcment on 10 July 2000. Since the new announcement last week we’ve barely heard a “peep” from anyone from San Francisco. What we are trying to say is this: San Francisco does not care about the Demons, but San Jose did. They definitely did.

In a news article printed in the Business Journal of San Jose on 11 Sep 2000, just two days before the San Jose move, Mike Preacher, the GM and President of the Demons franchise was quoted as saying that the Demons are installing video screens, cameras and sound equipment to bring the fans both at home and in San Jose State’s Spartan Stadium closer to the game. He also stated that the team’s office had received nearly 5,000 requests for season passes. We still wonder what he was doing, going on record like this only days before the franchise was pulled out of San Jose. Perhaps it was just a simple a matter of bad timing on the part of the media?

Does anybody else think that the majority of these season passes were sold to fans from San Jose?

The XFL’s spin on the move is that everybody will be better off with the team playing in Pac Bell Park. Fans should be happy about this. Also, playing in Pac Bell Park will give the XFL more of a big league image. This is obviously very important to the league bosses.

The only thing that Pac Bell Park has going for it is that it is a fantastic new facility and it is large. On the other hand, Spartan Stadium is a football stadium, built for fans of the greatest sport on earth. You know the type of stadium, two banks of seats parallel to the sidelines, and two end zone seating areas to enclose the playing field. Pac Bell Park is beautifully shaped like a ball diamond. Can it be made to be condusive to football? We’ll leave that to the XFL to figure out.

Accepting change is something that the XFL would like to have us do easily. After all it did not take long for the league to accept these new changes. On the league’s official web site at xfl.com, the name San Jose was replaced by San Francisco in all areas. Also, the name Spartan Stadium was just as easily replaced by Pacific Bell Park. Essentially the San Jose Demons never existed – wiped from the face of football with one click of a mouse.

In the XFL press release, Mike Preacher went on record to say “We always have considered ourselves a team for the entire Bay Area. San Jose is an important market for the Demons as it should be for all Bay Area teams. We will promote our product to the residents of the South Bay with no less fervor than we would have had we been playing at Spartan Stadium. The people and city of San Jose have been first-class all the way. We know they will continue to support the Demons.”

This is all nice sugar coating for the XFL fans of San Jose. But, make no mistake about it, the name of this team is now the San Francisco Demons. The words San Jose Demons, the name that many fans came to love, shall never be uttered again.

On the counterpoint, the XFL is all about progress. One of the major tenets of this league is to move into the new century with some new-style football fun. We should be trusting their plan to move into a baseball park. Like we have said before: “In Vince We Trust”. This remains true. Most fans of this league are dedicated to trusting the league’s founder simply based on his track record.

It’s just that to San Jose, the XFL is acting like a long lost cousin who came to visit for 67 days. They didn’t even say goodbye before they left.

Mark Nelson – XFLBoard Editor

It’s All Math

(11 September 2000) — When the XFL was first announced, one of the comments was “Who will play in such a league?” It seems that the real question should have been “What will the XFL do with all the potential players they turn away?”

The XFL is getting a lot of attention lately from players of all sorts. More players than expected are asking the question, “How do I sign up to play in the XFL?” But, for most of these potential smashmouth footballers there will never be a job, just a math lesson.

In the CFL, many players are using the “XFL trump card” as a contract bargaining chip. In the Arena League, 410 players were reportedly sent contracts (letters of intent?) by the XFL. It is also reported that the XFL is currently negotiating with players such as Jim Druckenmiller, Dave Krieg, Rashaan Salaam, Jeff Hostetler and Bobby Hebert.

The XFL also had 10,000 players sign up at their official web site. How many of these will end up on an XFL roster? The answer is very few. Of the 10,000 that signed up some were known players with quantative experience. Most of these players were sent letters of intent. Of the remainder, only 1,000 were assigned to go to a combine.

In the first combine, held on 9 Sep 00 in Dallas, it is about 250 players showed up, but most were never given two looks. In the end, as it was reported by a player who was there, only nineteen players were singled out to receive letters of intent from the league. (The press reports that 50 were given contracts.) These guys were the cream of the crop.

Once all the combines are complete, only 10-15% of the attendees will be issued letters of intent. The others are all turned away at the door, and they will be out $110.00, the player’s cost to attend the combine, plus travelling expenses.

This should not come as a surprise to anybody. The XFL has a lot of players knocking on the door, and only a limited time to put together eight teams. The combines are designed to see what talent is available, and that nobody is overlooked.

When all is said and done, the XFL will most likely have issued a letter of intent for 600-700 players. These players will go into a pool for the XFL draft. Once drafted, approximately 350 players will gain a position on XFL rosters.

It’s anybody’s guess, but anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 potentially excellent football players will be turned away from the entire selection process. The good news for them is that there is going to be approximately 350 more professional football player jobs in the world come this February. Players who go to the XFL from the CFL, Arena League and NFL Europe will leave openings for the unsigned football playing masses.

Salaries: Another Math Lesson

Why is there so much interest in this league? Mostly because the XFL salary scale is unique, and may prove to be beneficial to many players, especially the ones who play on winning teams.

The league has hinted that they will be paying a base salary of $45,000 for each player per season. Quarterbacks will receive a little more, $55,000, and kickers will get $35,000. There is also an incentive plan, with players on teams that win getting more cash.

Of course it is the incentives that make this league worthwhile. After each winning game, winning team will split $100,000. The team that wins the championship will split an additional bonus of $1,000,000. On a 38 man roster, these incentives can add up in a hurry.

For example, a regular player who plays on a winning team, with an 7-3 record for example, and that goes on to win the championship will actually make $92,638. The potential is there for a player to more than double his base salary.

On the other hand, a player on a losing team, with a 3-7 record for example, and that misses the playoffs, would make only $52,895.

Not too bad for three months work.

Reported
Base Salaries
Player
$45,000
Quarterback
$55,000
Kicker
$35,000
Regular
Season Performance Bonus
Winning teams will split a $100,000 bonus for each game won. Reportedly this bonus pool would be split evenly across 38 players on the roster.
Team
Record
Approx.
Yearly Bonus per player
10-0
$26,320
9-1
$23,684
8-2
$21,053
7-3
$18,421
6-4
$15,789
5-5
$13,158
4-6
$10,526
3-7
$7895
2-8
$5263
1-9
$2632
0-10
$0
 
Playoff
Performance Bonus
Playoff wins will net more bonuses for players. The Championship team will split a whopping $1,000,000. Playoff calculations are based on 4 teams making it into the post-season.
Playoff
Record
Total
Approx. Playoff Bonus Per Player
Semi-Final
Win Only
$2632
Championship
Team
$28,947

Mark Nelson – XFLBoard Editor