If you’re unfamiliar with the concept that is the XFL, you have no idea how lucky you are. Those of us who actually experienced it back in 2001 have spent the last seventeen years trying to wipe it from memory.
Vincent Kennedy McMahon is a businessman and creative writer who believed the following were good ideas: writing a storyline about a terrorist just three years departed from 9/11, having an OAP give birth to a hand after an intimate relationship with a five-hundred-pound man, and almost green-lighting an incestuous angle with his own daughter for television.
The worst part? All of those were better ideas than the XFL. Here’s your rundown from the original.
Birmingham Thunderbolts, Chicago Enforcers, New York/New Jersey Hitmen, Orlando Rage, Las Vegas Outlaws, Los Angeles Xtreme, Memphis Maniax, San Francisco Demons.
As you can tell, Vince clearly picked the names himself. The Memphis Maniax may well be a contender for the worst-named sporting franchise of all time. The Demons had the highest average attendance (35,000), while the lowest-attended games were in Chicago (15,700).
Tommy Maddox was by far the best quarterback in the league – unsurprising considering he was the first overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft. He actually went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers when the XFL went rapidly into oblivion.
Each team played ten games and the top from each division progressed to the semi-finals. In 2001, under Tommy Maddox, Los Angeles Xtreme ran out comfortable winners.
The most controversial rule change was that there were no fair catches on punts. In a sport where concussion is prominent, this puts players at an even greater risk. It seems unlikely that Vince McMahon will review this rule despite obvious pressure from everyone else around him, because this is a man who made himself a WWE Champion and Royal Rumble winner – because he bloody well wanted to.
There were no kickoffs – just a ‘scramble’. The scramble was where the ball was placed on the halfway line and players would sprint from a starting point to get to it. The player who gained possession and kept it, got the ball first for their team.
Celebrating Vince McMahon's reported launch of a pro football league with a clip of the very first XFL 'Scramble' to decide possession (February, 2001) Details ➡️ https://t.co/awBPBX6rXe pic.twitter.com/wW335RDUad
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 25, 2018
There were no point-after attempts, either. Teams had to attempt what’s effectively a two-point conversion, but for just a single point.
Corners and safeties were also free to hold any receiver once the ball wasn’t out of the quarterback’s hands and punting out of bounds carried a ten-yard penalty. The play clock was also five seconds shorter than the NFL’s.
You’re starting to see that Vince just wanted pain, aren’t you?
Reportedly, Vince McMahon lost $35m of his initial $100m investment because it flopped so badly. The main reason it did so poorly was due to the lack of people willing to switch on their televisions to watch it.
It competed against the NCAA basketball bracket, and that was an uphill struggle from the beginning. The production was amateur, and NBC dropped their coverage after a year due to the appallingly low ratings.
But hey, at least Roman Reigns can’t win the XFL. Can he?