Birmingham Succeeds in the Stands

Sonny Sanders - Bolts Team Reporter

Birmingham (5 February 2001) -- In their XFL debut the Birmingham Thunderbolts failed to succeed on the field but in the stands they surpassed all expectations.

On an absolutely beautiful day the Bolts faced off against the Memphis Maniax. It was all that it was promised and more.

The Maniax took an early 19 to nothing lead and appeared to be setting up a rout. The 35,331 Bolts' fans were getting anxious and after a Weldon interception that led to a Maniax field goal the fans started calling for local legend Jay Barker. But Casey was at the bat and refused to strike out.

Before the half he led the Bolts to their first touchdown. He added 2 more in the second half while the Bolts' defense tightened up and held the Maniax to a field goal. Weldon, who appeared to suffer a concussion, lead the Bolts to 2 more touchdowns including one with 22 seconds remaining on the clock. The on sidekick failed and the Maniax celebrated a 22-20 victory. Weldon won over the crowd with over 300 yards.

The real victory was the support that the Bolts received from Birmingham. The crowd was far beyond the 25,000 that the Birmingham Bolts' had expected. The fans were into the game even when the Bolts were down by 19. As the Bolts rallied the fans got louder and were rocking Legion Field.

I believe that the Bolts proved that they have a good product and have started to win over the fans. I expect that most of the fans in attendance will return in two weeks. The XFL put on a great show and the Bolts showed the heart that earns fan support. If they can pull out a win on the road next week they should return home to a crowd of the same size.