17 January 2001
Inside the Bolts
A Day at the Thunderbolts office
Bamaslammer - XFLBoard.com Team Reporter

(Birmingham) -- Last week I called the ThunderBolts main number needing information. The issue was a UPS truck sized vehicle that we planned to employ for our "Kill Memphis" tailgate party. We weren't sure if they would let us in the gate. Answering the phone was Ross Scott the director of ticket sales. He listened to my question but didn't know the answer. To my surprise he told me he would call the park board and find out. A few hours later I got a return call from Ross telling me he had spoken to the Park Board and OK'd the truck. I was impressed that he would go the extra mile for a few guys who wanted to tailgate before the game. He agreed to take me on a tour of the ThunderBolts office.

Ross and I went to lunch at Nikki's on Finley Ave. and talked at length about his job and the Bolts. Ross a Birmingham native and long time Texas Ranger sales rep took the job wanting to be a part of something new and to get back to Birmingham. The Ticket sales have been picking up lately but the corporate support has remained poor. Apparently many local businesses are still pessimistic about the XFL. At times I could feel the frustration he has experienced trying to sell this new product to a town which isn't known for it's ability to change. We discussed the previous failures of Pro Football in Birmingham, especially the USFL. He assured me that the quality of play in the XFL would surpass that of the USFL. I found this very encouraging because the Stallions were far and away the best football Birmingham has seen. For those of you who have season tickets they should be coming soon. There was a delay in the printing but they should be in your mailbox in a week or so. The Memphis ticket is so large you could frame it. Not a bad idea "Just in case".

Back at the Thunderbolts main office at Legion Field Ross introduced me to the office staff. They were all very upbeat, mostly young, outgoing people who made me feel very at home. Several were from the Birmingham area, some returning to Birmingham after living elsewhere. I was surprised to see Kerry Goode the former Alabama running back working in the PR area. I still wonder to this day just how good Kerry could have been had his injuries not been so severe.

I asked several people how the constant stream of bad press both locally and nationally have affected them. The smiles on their faces subsided ever so slightly. They would pause and say; "Well it has been bad sometimes". But without exception they were all very confident that once people had seen their game day product that they would be vindicated.

Later on talking more with Ross he discussed the fact that even the staff doesn't know the full extent of what will go on at the games. The XFL has kept some of their most innovative game day "stuff" a guarded secret. The NFL wasted little time rigging microphones to players and strapping cameras to ref's this year hoping to beat the XFL to the punch. Apparently this fact has not been lost on XFL management. The "closed scrimmages" that are going on this week in Orlando are not for Dinardo to test his secret plays but to trial run the broadcast crew and multimedia equipment the XFL will employ at the game. Ross, like other staff members, felt that once the product is finally revealed that it will absolutely blow away anything we have seen in the past.

As I prepared to leave, Ross stuck a dagger in me by announcing that if I had come on Tuesday that I could have met the mythical Thunderbolt Cheerleaders. I grilled him on the actual existence of this squad since there were more photographs of Big Foot in Birmingham than of the Thunderbolt Cheerleaders. Ross insisted that they do exist and practicing hard for the first game. After scolding him for such an indiscretion I went my merry way, even more enthusiastic about the upcoming Memphis game.

-- bamaslammer