Saturday, February 4, 2017
Owned and operated by Vince McMahon,the XFL had one night of huge ratings and was followed by the worst ratings ever seen by a network by the end of the season.
The film focuses more on McMahon and his good friend and often time business associate,former NBC Sports head Dick Ebersole than on much of the talent in the league (coaches,players and front office types) and that is somewhat of a flaw,but an understandable one as the director of the film is Dick Ebersole's son.
That doesn't take away from the entertainment value,what it does is take away somewhat from the overall information that can be learned about the league.
Considering the filmmakers relationship with the two main persons of interest,the film was pretty honest and fair in dealing with the problems and demise of the league,if a little sappy at the end.
I was prepared to buy into the XFL from day one because I loved the USFL,have always believed that there is a place for spring football and still to this day believe that had Donald Trump (as noted in the past,this is my starting point for my Trump dislike) not stuck his stubby little fingers into the league that the USFL might have been around to this day.
At that time,the XFL was a perfect opportunity for me and my buddies (some of those guys are still around,others were "voted off the island" since then) to pick a team together that we could all root for together,
It's rare to have a chance like that to start from scratch,so we decided on the San Francisco Demons (who wound up losing in the championship game) and I remember all of us watching the first Demons game at our old apartment and we were actually getting into the game as the Demons defeated the Los Angeles Extreme 15-13 on a Sunday afternoon.
I seem to remember the Demons winning the game on a late field goal,but it was a good time by all.
I remember having a Demons cap that I know still has to be around here somewhere,but there was a problem with the league-mainly that the football wasn't up to par.
Don't get me wrong,it was passable and I remember seeing several players that were excellent players that were CFL all-stars that didn't dominate the XFL,but it wasn't what anyone beyond the super hardcore fan (like me) was going to devote their time to.
The lack of top talent in the league was what made it look minor league.
The USFL spent money (and lost much of it) on stars out of college,developed a solid level of talent and developed more of an audience.
Vince McMahon thought that it was more about marketing and flash than actual football talent and with the exception of Rod "He Hate Me" Smart,was wrong.
What the league turned out to be was neither fish nor fowl-the football wasn't going to be a draw for anyone other than fans like me and the braintrust discovered that the cheerleaders and all the other bells and whistles weren't enough to pull in viewers that tuned into wrestling.
The television product had some innovations that the NFL wound up using (the skycam and microphones on everyone in sight for just two),but the league also had some bad announcers,less than great camera work,the persistence of the wrestling side of the promotion cutting wrestling promos on the NFL and attempting wrestling angle type issues like Jesse Ventura constantly trying to rile up New York head coach Rusty Tillman with criticism.
The uniforms were about what you expect from the time period (over the top and ugly) although the helmets were decent enough and I thought the black and red football was pretty sharp,although red with black might have been more visual.
I liked a few of the rule changes that the league attempted.
The scramble to decide possession was fun to watch,although it provided many injuries and I didn't mind the no extra point rule.
I didn't care for the no fair catch rule (sounded better than it was because players couldn't get closer than five yards of the returner until he possessed the ball) and I thought the ten yard penalty when you punted the ball out of bounds was pretty dumb.
Give the XFL credit for trying things and anytime you try things,they won't all be winners,will they?
I have every XFL game ever televised in the VHS archives,although I am doubtful on the future of those since it is becoming harder and harder to find quality machines to transfer games to VHS.
I originally planned to just tape Demon games (they finished 5-5 in the regular season) ,but Ryan suggested that I should tape every game,I took his advice and did just that-If you want XFL games and have a VHS/DVD recorder,call me at ....
I liked the XFL for all of its flaws,although I must admit that I didn't hold it in nearly as high esteem as the USFL and wished that it would have been given more time,although from a business perspective,I certainly understand how and why the decision was made in order to cut their losses and end the league.
Give Vince McMahon one thing-when he fails,he fails spectacularly..