It has been sixteen years since an XFL Football game took place. Even then, the league was more like a Clint Eastwood movie: The good, the bad, and the ugly. In this case, there was a lot more bad and ugly, rather than good, as far as TV ratings are concerned. Even back then, NHL Hockey games contained better ratings than what the XFL generated. In the bigger picture, the XFL maintained innovative concepts, but it just didn’t work out for the better.
In recent news, Vince McMahon is reportedly flirting with the idea of bringing the XFL back for one more attempt. In case some see this as a publicity hoax, it should be noted that McMahon is currently attempting to sell his control of the WWE, which ultimately indicates that he will likely put his full attention towards the concept of reviving the XFL.
The XFL was brought to the public in 2001, but unfortunately lasted only one season. I was fortunate to go to three games that year, where certain events were held at Legion Field. In my personal opinion, the product was actually decent.
The issue was that the XFL had an identity problem for most of the season. The “Million Dollar” championship was unique, and could have very well started a new tradition, had the XFL continued. The Los Angeles Xtreme went on to win the only championship in the history of the league. If the league somehow comes back, new names and changes to the postseason format may be discussions that take place.
There were eight teams in the league back then: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, Birmingham, Las Vegas, Orlando, and San Francisco. At times, certain franchises played the same team more than once. All the clubs were designated to a ten game season in 2001, and it lasted from mid-February to early May. Within the postseason, only four teams made the playoffs.
The XFL had a lot of characters in the league, such as Tommy Maddox, Rod “He Hate Me” Smart, Jim Druckenmiller, and more. The league even had entertaining broadcasters at the time, which included Jesse “The Body” Ventura (former Governor of Minnesota), Dick Butkus, Bob Golic, Jerry Lawler, and Jim Ross.
A typical XFL schedule was two games on Saturday (on NBC, regional coverage), and two games on a Sunday (afternoon game on TNN, and the Sunday night game was on UPN). Both TNN (the national network) and UPN (replaced by MyNetwork TV) no longer exist, but were part of the lone season the XFL provided to the nation.
The only game not broadcasted was between the Memphis Maniax and Birmingham Thunderbolts, and that game drew over 35,000 in attendance at Legion Field. Later on, ESPN produced a 30 for 30 documentary on the XFL, which sparked Vince McMahon’s keen interest to potentially revive the XFL.
In the end, I hope McMahon has learned his lesson, and can adapt to what the public sees fit. Will NBC seek the broadcasting rights of the XFL again in the future? While it’s unlikely, I would instead desire an “XFL network”, if there is a source of success in the early stages.
There has been no word on when this league would start, but I would assume that 2019 is a realistic benchmark. All in all, this could get very interesting over the next calendar year in the world of American Football.
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