(Author: Mark Nelson – 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.
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
Mark Nelson is a football fan, and founder and owner of XFLBoard.com since April 2000.