Visits The Steel City
Butkus is determined to make the XFL a better
- (30 March 2001) --
Your tired, you've been driving for hours. You pull
off the highway to get some gas and something to drink.
As your gassing your vehicle a tan and crème
RV pulls up and a middle age man with a crew cut jumps
out and begin fueling his. He runs in the store and
back out and you think to yourself, "Gosh, If I
didn't know better I'd say that was Dick Butkus".
Well guess what, You don't know better because that
is exactly how Dick gets around.
Butkus, arguably the greatest Linebacker that every
lived and the director of competition for the XFL drove
himself into Birmingham with his home on wheels Thursday.
Dick will be attending the game Saturday but will most
likely not be announcing it as he has recently. His
primary goal was to talk to the players. He held a players
only meeting that lasted about an hour. During that
time he took questions from the players mostly about
things that concerned them as employees of the XFL.
Although Dick said that there were few questions about
league stability he did mention telling them to ignore
the press reports of the league folding.
the local TV stations Fox 6 and NBC 13 took their turns
talking to the great one. Dick emphasized that the league
will continue with or without NBC. The original business
plan did not include a major network anyway. He said
he was taken aback at the number of people who wanted
very badly for the XFL to fail because of Jim McMahon's
involvement. On McMahon Dick described him as a work-a-holic.
Someone that was committed to making this succeed and
money meant nothing to him.
When Dick was asked what was good and bad about the
league he referenced all of the
mistakes they had made, mistakes that they were working
to correct for 2002.
Butkus travels in style!
the positive note he said that the league provided opportunities
for great players that don't quite make it in the NFL
to try and develop while taking care of their families.
Dick made numerous references to his concern for the
players. He said that they
were looking at increasing pay and improving conditions
on road trips, training facilities, medical care etc
After the TV press was finished Doug Segrest from the
Birmingham News and myself grilled him more specifically
about the Bolts. Doug asked him straight up, "With
NBC pulling out are you going to be moving the Birmingham
Franchise?" His answer was "No we are not".
I asked him if the Bolts poor play had been a concern?
He tried not to acknowledge that the Bolts were that
bad, he did however note that the Birmingham team seemed
to be snakebit.
waiting for Dick to make his appearance I spent a few
minutes with offensive Lineman Matt Hogg. The 6' 5"
306lb Hogg has been in camp with the Lions, Eagles,
and Panthers of the NFL. He also spent the 99 season
playing for the Barcelona Dragons for NFL Europe. I
asked him how XFL defensive lines rated compared to
the NFL and Europe. He said that the NFLEL defensive
lines were definitely not as good as the XFL. He said
that they weren't as good as starting DL's in the NFL,
but fell somewhere in between. On the upcoming opponent
Orlando he responded with almost a sneer. Clearly this
is a team that has handed their collective butts to
them and they want to pay them back badly. What's up
next for Matt? Matt said that he had signed a one-year
contract with the XFL and that it included an option
for year two. He planned on returning to the Bolts in
-- Bamaslammer -- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org