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WLAF. XFL and the USFL

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I remember the XFL being the most boring football I've ever watched. I was all into watching the first game and IIRC remember falling asleep watching it.

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I wasnt even born when the USFL was around, but I think, in my opinion, that the XFL failed for numerous reasons.

1) McMahon. Nuff said

2) Team names and identities that didnt match whatsoever with the city or state it was located in and were just plain weird overall(SF Demons, Memphis Maniax, Orlando Rage.....WTH?), so I think the marketability with the fans was a little off.

3) Not enough teams and in not the best locations (Birmingham? Not that I dont like it, but they werent nearly big enough to take in a pro team), so again, marketability problems.

4) All this tied together and the fact that never once have I seen any bit of XFL merchandise anywhere, Id say lack of marketability and then the fact that the football they were playing was sort of a different game (more brutal and less classy), were the two major nails in the coffin. Im not saying I dont like brutal football (im quite the violent scrapper myself on the gridiron lol), but I think the fans got fed up with it and decided that the XFL wasnt thier football.

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I'll tell you why the XFL failed. You ever seen the movie Idiocracy? That league was made for those people.

So, what your saying is that the league not only didn't have enough fan support or money, but also not enough...... Electrolytes?

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I liked the rules the XFL were using, made the game more exciting -- at the time I saw it as a hybrid of Canadian and American rules with their own twists added on.

The one moment that really made me roll my eyes at the league was when they cut away from game coverage to interview a fan in the stands wearing a helmet with horns on it... the interviews were for some reason played over the in-stadium PA system. The interview lasted about a second long... "Hi sir, are you horny?"

Whistles blown, flags thrown, offside was the call.

Stupid.

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There's a great book out there, titled "Long Bomb," that documents a lot of the failings of the XFL. Reading it, you realize that whenever McMahon and company faced a fork in the road, they picked the road to ruin.

Outside of McMahon (and yeah,okay, because of him, too) a selection of reasons to note for the XFL's failure:

-World Wrestling Entertainment is a publicly-traded company. We all know that a startup sports league is never going to be a moneymaker right off the bat. Shareholders had no tolerance for such an endeavor, and the second XFL season mainly never came to pass because Vince's company couldn't bear to drop another eight figures on his vanity project.

-The league was co-owned by NBC. Week 2 provided a great showcase Saturday Night game - Chicago vs. L.A. in a multi-overtime shootout. But that bumped the local news back, which, in turn, bumped back a February sweeps first-run episode of Saturday Night Live with Jennifer Lopez hosting for everyone not in the Pacific time zone. In the eyes of network executives (and a beyond-pissed Lorne Michaels,) a program devised by some wrasslin' huckster in its second week (with a major technical glitch that took it off the air for a while) had taken precedence over, and cut into the ratings of, a network darling in its 26th season. Immediate rule changes were ordered to ensure no XFL game ever went past its alloted 3 hours again. So now, you had executives from two different camps (pro wrestling and network television,) neither of which necessarily had an extensive knowledge base on how to run a sports league, and both are attempting to run a sports league with/against each other. There's your recipe for disaster.

-NBC, for reasons unknown, expected minor-league football to revive Saturday primetime. If they broadcast this during the sporting doldrums of February on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and pull in a 2.5, everyone's dancing on tables. Instead, they put it on a night where viewership had been eroding for a decade and expected a jumpstart. When they scheduled this league, they had it backwards. If they had put the Saturday night game on UPN or TNN and split the afternoon games between the big network and one of the little ones, things could have been much more stable.

-Unfulfilled promises. The "smash mouth" football trumped up in commercials was little more than a melange of college, Arena, and CFL rules in disguise. "No fair catches" really meant a halo around returners. Bump-and-run coverage, initially outlawed, was allowed toward the end of the season, crippling offenses. At least, it further crippled them - most teams had blown through 1 or 2 quarterbacks because of a tacit encouragement of late hits and cheap-shot artists. And the revival of the WFL Action Point - not an altogether bad idea - showed its age with a lack of a two-point option, something NFL fans came to embrace in the '90s. In typical McMahon fashion, it got overdone, re-vamped for the playoff with 1, 2, and 3-point options, turning it into a game show bonus round. If they had just made the action point say, 1 for a run and 2 for a pass, or perhaps kept extra-point kicks and pushed them back to the 20, the whole idea may have been more credible. And the promises of the league "taking you closer to the game than ever before" gave us prolonged locker-room look-ins which revealed nothing, save for players with towels over their heads and/or relieving themselves.

-Individual franchise issues. Orlando sold out its first game at the reduced-capacity Citrus Bowl, with people outside clamoring to get in. Rather than take off some tarps and open up more seating, the extra fans were turned away. In Birmingham, they ran out of beer the first game at Legion Field. I wonder how many fans came back in both of those instances.

-That certain, undeniable McMahon flair.

That first Saturday in February '01, my friends and I, all 18-25 males square in the crosshairs of the target demo, gathered to watch the XFL. (And to drink. Drinking is good.) When the Vegas offense got its introductions, they went to a pre-recorded cutaway of a Vegas cheerleader draped over their starting QB. "Ryan Clement really knows how to score on the field," she moaned in a voice straight from some '80s phone-sex ad. Every one of us groaned. By week three, I was the only one of that group still watching.

We all like the addition of the cable cam these days, and the on-field "Bubba Cam" was also pretty sweet. But those way-cool angles are best when reserved for before-the-snap action and replays. When it comes to live action, the standard camera angle is just about perfection, and there's no reason to mess with it. So naturally, Vince did.

The likes of Brian Bosworth and Jesse Ventura in the broadcast booth. Jesse's infamous "gutless Rusty" jabs delivered at NY/NJ coach Rusty Tillman, and his insistence that it be escalated into an on-field confrontation, showed that Ventura and McMahon had no idea what football was, outside of it being big guys hitting other big guys. Matt Vasgersian was quite good in his role as play-by-play man, and it's good to see that he's one of the few who emerged from the XFL's rubble. Also surprising: J.R. and the King making for a decent football broadcast tandem.

All that said, I miss the XFL, and I will forever see it as a league of unrealized potential. (In fact, there's an Enforcers mini-helmet on my desk as I type this.) It was going to be the spring league that kept costs in line and eliminated shady fly-by-night ownership. Though I never made it to the game, I knew people who did, and from them (and the occasional stranger who's stopped me in public because I was wearing an XFL jersey,) I've heard nothing but good things. For all television did to play up the lewdness, crassness, and violence, going to an XFL game in person was apparently a family-friendly, relatively-inexpensive outing with lots of fun to be had. And I think the 25-yard "free ball" rule on punts was genius, and I'd love to see it come back. Ah, what could have been.

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I'll tell you why the XFL failed. You ever seen the movie Idiocracy? That league was made for those people.

So, what your saying is that the league not only didn't have enough fan support or money, but also not enough...... Electrolytes?

Yeah, The XFL did not have what fans crave.

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Also surprising: J.R. and the King making for a decent football broadcast tandem.

Great, informative post. I pulled out the above text only because Good Ol' J.R.'s success as a football announcer shouldn't be a surprise: he spent three years as the Atlanta Falcons official play-by-play man.

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Anyone remember the World Football League that began in 1974 and died in 1975?

Visit My Website

Yep, I do. That attempt ran out of both money and talent, although a lot of minor league/semi-pro guys who had been bouncing around did get to play, like the QB of the Philadelphia Bell team - King Corcoran. I was just a kid (12/13) when they played, so I had no idea where these guys came from. There was a big splash when the WFL signed Warfield, Csonca and Kick away from the Dolphins for 1975, but that was the year the league started folding teams mid-way and then folded completely by the end of the season. They reached too far too fast, ran out of funds.

USFL - same issue, but they at least had the sense to try a different schedule for their first two years. They were starting to get strapped financially, and I think they were really hoping to win a big settlement against the NFL in their anti-trust lawsuit to keep the league floating or force the NFL to accept some of their teams. It was a good start - sign a few guys who where career backups (John Reeves in Tampa Bay, for example), sign a few high-profile college players (Hershel Walker, Jim Kelley and Steve Young on offense, Reggie White on defense for example), and steal a few NFL starters as well. The switch to a fall schedule hurt TV ratings. The final straw was winning the battle but losing the war in court. They actually won their lawsuit aginst the NFL but were only awared $1 in damages (which was tripled to $3 under anti-trust rules). End of that league.

The WWLF was always a developmental league for the NFL; I don't count them the same as the WFL, USFL or XFL since they were only in existance to boost the NFL's presence outside the USA. Sure, they had North American teams for a year or two; when it got too costly they cut back to where they needed a foothold of fans - Europe.

Sodboy's post details the problems with the XFL - I guess I was out of their demographic and only watched bits and pieces of a few games for cusiosity's sake. Living video games promoted by entertainers aren't my idea of football, evidently I wasn't alone in this thought as it died a quick death.

In the post-war (i.e. WWII) era, there has been only one pro sports league to challenge the established league and "win" - that was the AFL. They were in the right place at the right time, just as pro football was overtaking baseball as the favored sport in America. They had the right leaders on both sides - a few really well-funded teams who could survive and also keep the struggling franchises afloat during the extended pissing match, and they had the right leader in the established league who, once he realized this group wasn't going away quickly, had the business sense to seize the opportunity to make his product even bigger.

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Going from 12 to 18 teams after the first season was a huge mistake for the USFL, it watered down the league and brought in to many goofs who followed Donald Trump with the half brained idea of going head to head with the NFL.

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USFL.INFO. You can thank me later.

Can I see photos of Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars memorabilia and apparel there?

:P

_______

Back on topic:

USFL --

It was doomed by its failure to stick to its business plan.

XFL--

The league tried to act as if it was something beyond football, a la the WWE. If it had tried to play it straight, it might have done okay.

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USFL.INFO. You can thank me later.

Can I see photos of Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars memorabilia and apparel there?

:P

_______

Back on topic:

USFL --

It was doomed by its failure to stick to its business plan.

XFL--

The league tried to act as if it was something beyond football, a la the WWE. If it had tried to play it straight, it might have done okay.

Maybe if the :censored: who runs it would ever get around to updating it... :D

Both leagues could've eliminated one problem from their outset, but didn't. Neither bothered to play true exhibition games, away from the TV cameras, before their first week of regular season play. Had the USFL and XFL each played 3-4 weeks of preseason games prior to the starts of their inaugural seasons, the quality of play would've been greatly improved - and fans watching the games on television would've been more receptive.

Obviously these weren't the only problems facing each league, but for those thinking the quality of play was an issue in either case, that would've resolved it: the 1984 USFL was a helluva better football product than it was in 1983, and even latter-season XFL games were more entertaining than their Week 1 counterparts.

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Also surprising: J.R. and the King making for a decent football broadcast tandem.

IIRC, J.R. was the Falcons play-by-play man for a minute in the late 80's/early 90's. A lot of the old WCW announcers (which JR was) had a background in "legit" sports before going to wrestling.

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Also surprising: J.R. and the King making for a decent football broadcast tandem.

IIRC, J.R. was the Falcons play-by-play man for a minute in the late 80's/early 90's. A lot of the old WCW announcers (which JR was) had a background in "legit" sports before going to wrestling.

Jim Ross was also a high school and small college football ref in the 1970's.

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Also surprising: J.R. and the King making for a decent football broadcast tandem.

IIRC, J.R. was the Falcons play-by-play man for a minute in the late 80's/early 90's. A lot of the old WCW announcers (which JR was) had a background in "legit" sports before going to wrestling.

Jim Ross was also a high school and small college football ref in the 1970's.

If he was, how'd he move around the field, roll?

In all respect though, JR is one of my favorite announcers of any sports/entertainment product, so I'd put him up there with Bob Uecker (I know I didn't spell it right) and Pat Summerall.

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Also surprising: J.R. and the King making for a decent football broadcast tandem.

IIRC, J.R. was the Falcons play-by-play man for a minute in the late 80's/early 90's. A lot of the old WCW announcers (which JR was) had a background in "legit" sports before going to wrestling.

Man, don't people read?

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money

Dyyyynamit drop-in, Monty!

:D A quote from an announcer in a movie that was previously mentioned a couple of posts up.

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Jim Ross was also a high school and small college football ref in the 1970's.

If he was, how'd he move around the field, roll?

Yes, he had someone put a cinnamon roll that he had to follow in case there was a long play.

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I liked the XFL for the same reason I liked the AFL -- it was something different. I loved their overtime system, alas it's ashame that the only OT game (that I know of) was that one Saturday night game. I remember watching the exciting LA / SF game at Pac Bell (wtf?) that was won on a field goal. But towards the end of the season, it became old and stale. I watched a few minutes of the championship game, and when they starting talking about three point conversions, they lost me.

The WLAF failed because the league lost money and the NFL owners didn't want to sink more money into it to develop something that was largely unpopular in the eight North American markets that it inhabited in the two years it was over here. It got off to a bad start when the seven N.A. teams all finished at .500 or below in '91, while all three European teams finished with 9, 8, and 7 wins.

The son of one of my co-workers was the PR Director for the Raleigh-Durham / Ohio franchise. The next time I go home, I'll have to post the article from the program I own regarding the origin of the logos and designs.

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