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Birmingham Thunderbolts

Bolt’s Woes

By Bamaslammer – Bolts Team Reporter

Birmingham – (26 March 2001) — And I thought it couldn’t get worse. I was wrong…

Did anybody see the movie “Planes Trains and Automobiles”. Somehow that movie reminds me of the Thunderbolts. Some believe that we pay in this life for sins committed in a past life. If that is true all of the Bolts must have been axe murderers and Dinardo must have been the lawyer who got them off.

I have never in all my years of watching football seen a more snake bit team than the hapless Birmingham Thunderbolts. Just when the offense gets moving again and Jay Barker is set to return to Legion Field for Birmingham’s only Saturday home game, he gets knocked half way back to Canada. Now with the leagues longest losing streak in tow and some backup quarterback from the WAC that no one has ever heard of and a streak of bad luck that seems to have no limit they return home to play the Rage, a team that could probably beat us with their practice squad.

The most interesting thing that will happen this year in Birmingham will be in 3 weeks when this nightmare of a season is finally brought to an end. What will the league do? Did McMahon consider before the season that given an even chance than any team could sink this low? If Birmingham had an owner this coaching staff would be history. But how motivated is the XFL to make a change? Lets face it, every time we go on the road some lucky team has a banner day. The fans leave really really happy!!! EVERYBODY loves the Bolts!

I spent some time this week thinking about the ratings problems the XFL has endured. I was recently on a business trip to Chicago and spent several nights eating dinner at a sports dive near my hotel. Every night these guys sat at the bar and talked sports. I heard this name and that name and it occurred to me that most people aren’t really pure football fans. Most people just want to see great players.

Case in Point. Can you name any offensive lineman that started for the Jets in SuperBowl III? Can you name anyone other than Ronnie Lott who started for San Francisco’s defense during their last SuperBowl win? Many of you can’t. I can’t. But every one on earth can tell you the name Joe Montana and Joe Namath. If Dan Marino and Jim Kelley came out of retirement today and played a football game. Half of the nation would tune in to watch. Forget that these are two washed up old vets who couldn’t throw themselves out of a wet bag, They tune in to watch because of who they are.

The XFL has no stars. The fact is that football no matter how the media or TV executives twist it is a team sport. Players don’t win football games, TEAMS win football games. The Ravens have to be the most unrespected SuperBowl champion I can remember. Why? Because they won as a team and had no pretty boy to put on the Wheatie Box. You can talk about how Joe Montana won 4 superbowls but I will tell you that the 49er Defense won those 4 superbowls. You can tell me that Joe Nameth won SuperBowl III but I can tell you that if his offensive line didn’t play a whale of a game Nameth wouldn’t be famous for his “guarantee”. The Arena Football league and its little brother arena II are feeding off what I call the “Core”. These are football fans that love the team aspect of this sport. They don’t come to watch names or drop names, they come to see guys bang heads. The XFL is selling the same thing on a much larger scale. Right now there just aren’t enough of the “Core” football fans out there. What is the answer? There is no quick fix. The XFL has got to stick it out and build their fan base from the ground up. Clearly it will be harder to do than anticipated but it is also just as clear from the exceptional attendance figures that the XFL has gotten a foothold in a place where no other league has dared to go.

This Saturday the Core football fans in Birmingham will be there with me. I know they are the Core because all the fair weather fans and the bandwaggoners and the spineless whiners who only come out when it is warm and the team is winning will be far from Legion Field. To those of you who join me Saturday, I want you to know that I am proud to be associated with you. YOU are the best fans in this league. I will be there and I will be grilling like there is no tomorrow. When the Bolts play I will yell and I will pump my fist in the air.

I recall the moment earlier in the season when the people in the press box crawled my case for pumping my fist in the air and yelling when the Bolts snatched an interception against the Enforcers in week 3 to win the game. Well guess what? That might have been the Bolts only real moment of glory and none of us are guaranteed another day on this earth.

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