On February 3, 2001, the XFL kicked off with two Saturday night games broadcast live in prime time, split into east and west games.
In the west, the Las Vegas Outlaws hosted the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. Moments before the first ever scramble for the red-and-black football, Vince McMahon stood at the 50-yard line of Sam Boyd Stadium, and announced, “This is the XFL!” The sellout crowd was deafening.
The XFL’s quirky scramble for the ball, which replaced the traditional coin toss to determine who would have first choice of possession was the first change the fans witnessed. In the western matchup, Jamel Williams of the Las Vegas Outlaws came up with the ball over Donnie Caldwell of the New York/New Jersey Hitmen.
In the east, the Chicago Enforcers visited the Orlando Rage where fans witnessed Orlando’s Hassan Shamsid-Deen receive a separated shoulder in the opening scramble for the ball. An injury which unfortunately ended his XFL career. The game also saw receiver Kevin Swayne receive a deep pass from Quarterback Jeff Brohm, and score the first ever touchdown in XFL history.
Because of the XFL’s connection to the WWE, there was a notion that wrestling matches might break out. No wrestling took place… just hard-hitting football, played by journeymen who were largely participating for the love of the game.
A rabid football fan, and founder and owner of XFLBoard.com since April 2000, Mark Nelson is happy to see the XFL come back for a second go around the buoy.