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Birmingham Thunderbolts

Situation Desperate in Birmingham

By Bamaslammer – Bolts Team Reporter

Birmingham – (18 March 2001) — The Birmingham Bolts Players, Coaches, Staff and Management have their backs to the wall in the Steel City. Another week has brought another humiliating loss. Another backup running back looking like a champion, Another laundry list of mistakes and missed opportunities. If the XFL had a welfare line, with a 4 game losing streak the Bolts would be standing in it.

Stats don’t tell the story of the problems on this team. Statistically they don’t play that badly, but statistics mean nothing when you put the ball on the ground, Can’t score in the redzone, can’t stop anyone in the redzone or can’t cover a punt. Even dependable veteran Stepfret Williams dropped a sure touchdown and James Willis got nailed with a critical holding call when the defense had stopped Las Vegas. Offensively since Weldon’s injury the offensive coordinator has pulled into his shell and shows no signs of coming out. The defensive line is so bad against the run its amazing coaches even TRY to pass the ball.

In the office the last home game drew just over 11 thousand people, by far the smallest crowd in league history. There are a number of reasons for that small crowd but with the leagues longest losing streak it is not a forgone conclusion that it will be the smallest. Team management has made enemies of certain power brokers in the BGOBN or (Birmingham Good Ole Boy Network). Local press had dismissed the Bolts and the league as another wasted attempt at pro football before the losing streak. Now they simply don’t mention them at all. Birmingham has been spoiled historically when it comes to football. With successful college teams and some of the best teams in the WFL and USFL losing isn’t something the locals are used to. Many around Birmingham wonder with the centralized control of the XFL if GM Tim Berryman has the authority to pull the plug on a coaching staff that seems in over its collective head.

This week brings us to the XFL version of the Bay of Pigs. Birmingham vs. Chicago. The biggest argument concerning these two team is which is worse team in the XFL. This argument will be settled March 25th in the Windy City. A loss by either will virtually end any thoughts of post season play and more or less solidify that teams position in the basement. Backup Quarterback Jay Barker played well for someone who hasn’t played all year but the offensively they seem to have lost all the progress that had been made recently.

There really is no bright spot, but if there is a spot that is slightly un-black it is the ever so small improvement in the OL play due to two recent player acquisitions. Also the defensive line although unable to slow down the running game has improved the pressure on the QB. Two of the last three quarterbacks who faced the Bolts won the game but left the field bleeding. The next home game is the only Saturday game which normally would be a big numbers draw at Legion Field. Although I have yet to go to a Bolts game and not have a great time I don’t know if the many people who have not tried this new sport will do so thinking that the game is a certain loss. Many die hard Alabama fans might make the trip just to see a former hero Jay Barker return to the field where he won so many classic college gridiron battles in the early 90’s. The bottom line is as it always was, “winning”. The bolts need this win desperately to keep hope alive and have a chance to get a respectable crowd on March 31st.

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” – John Wooden

Sonny Sanders – Bolts Team Reporter

The character of everyone in the Bolts organization is being tested to the limit. With three games left on the schedule the Bolts must win two of them to make the playoffs. Winning one of them at this juncture would be considered a major victory. No matter how well the Bolts play at certain times in a game they seem to self -destruct during a streak of bad luck and bad play. During the first half of the season the Bolts blew up early in games, but played well late. They have finally learned to start well but now seem incapable of finishing strong. Against the Outlaws the Bolts were dominating the first half but fell apart in the second half. It appears as if the Bolts have an identity crisis. For one half of a game they are Superman but someone brings out the kryptonite and they are reduced to Clark Kent mild mannered water boy.

My heart goes out to the players because I know that they are doing the best that they can. They are working hard and busting their butts. I’m just not sure what the problem is. The old adage is that it is the coaches’ fault but honestly how much motivation is required by the coaching staff? When do the players have to be responsible for their own actions? Is it bad coaching or bad execution by the players? Or is it a combination of both? Unfortunately I believe that the answer to that question is yes.

Can the season be salvaged? Sure. Every game is winnable. NY/NJ is playing well as is Chicago but the Bolts have beaten both teams this season. The Xtreme proved that the Rage are not invincible by beating them soundly. For the Thunderbolts the season comes down to the next game. Lose it and the playoffs are beyond their reach but a win would keep hope alive.


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