It is said that there is no such thing as bad press, and this contention causes an internal conflict for the writer hereof. To write about the XFL is to give it free press. However, to let this farce go unexposed would be an even bigger travesty than that of the XFL itself. In accordance, a middle of the road approach will be taken. A single critical piece regarding the Xtreme Football League (XFL) will be done, one work that will wholly illustrate the inherent ills of the XFL and the unethical tactics of its promoter and founder Vince McMahon, a man with no scruples. E.g., McMahon, the promoter and CEO of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), once filed a bogus civil suit against New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick, a fierce critic of his, for the sole purposes of creating media attention as the lawsuit never made it to the courts or produced any results other than just making a stir. Either that or McMahon must have forgotten that the First Amendment swings both ways, but while McMahon may embody many undesirable traits, stupidity is not one of them.
The idea of McMahon allying with NBC and Viacom to form a professional football league is enough to make one's stomach turn, but while watching Nightline's report on the XFL, it became increasingly hard to hold down dinner. Listening to grown men say that they would rather tune into WWF's Monday Night Raw, sports entertainment, instead of NFL's Monday Night Football, bona fide competition, and then justifying their doing so by pathetically comparing the form of entertainment that the WWF and the soon-to-be XFL provide men with the entertainment value of soap operas to women, going as for as to say that the WWF and the XFL are soap operas for men. How soft have we become... where men sitting in sports bars are saying a soap opera is what they are looking for? If they only knew they were the puppets of Linda McMahon! This business empire, consisting of the WWF, NBC and Viacom who are responsible for the launching of the XFL, rests on what Chief Executive Linda McMahon, Vince's wife, refers to as ''a soap opera action adventure (theme).''
Just yesterday, the triumvirate was engaged in blatant and transparent news creation. In an obviously tendentious press release entitled "XFL Signs TV Deal with the National Network", Diane Robina, general manager of The National Network (TNN), and Basil V. DeVito, president of the XFL, announced that TNN will become the exclusive cable home of the XFL. Each of them exchanged some pleasantries about the arrangement and gave the usual spiel about how great and revolutionary the new brand of football the XFL will introduce will be. Big deal! TNN is one of the channels owned by the cable giant Viacom. It is no news that one of Viacom's channels was going to broadcast XFL games. They have kept everything in-house. Yet, they present it as such just to get a little media attention. NBC and Viacom each own about $30 million in WWF stock. These three are attached at the hip. TNN "acquiring" the rights to be the XFL's "cable home" is not in the remotest of degrees to be compared to ESPN's contract with the NFL or FOX's, CBS's or ABC's for that matter. ESPN, ABC, CBS and FOX have contracts that expire every so often at which time the bidding begins. The NFL and the networks that broadcast NFL games are independent entities very unlike the "keep it in the family" relationship between the XFL, NBC and Viacom, which bares a striking resemblance to a mini-monopoly and reeks of unethical dealings. By the way, the XFL owns all of its teams. There are no independently owned franchises like in the NFL.
Now, how about that revolutionary and innovative brand of football the XFL will be manufacturing? Vince McMahon, a nobody in football, thinks he can devise a better football league, one much better than the "over-regulated, antiseptic NFL" that the Las Vegas Review-Journal contends will be 'the next Darwinian step in the evolution of pro football, hard-hitting, with no sissy rules to protect kick returners and dangerous, with a no in-the-grasp rule to protect prissy quarterbacks. Since day one, McMahon, again a nobody in football, has disparaged the NFL and its style of football, which has been time-tested for over eight decades.
Yet, XFL promoters are constantly seeking the approval of NFL's elite, always pointing out when an NFL great, such a John Madden, gives the XFL a little credit. For the record, Madden, in essence, said that the XFL will succeed due to McMahon's business savvy and the large WWF following he will bring to the XFL. The XFL writer, like a rat scrambling on the ground for crumbs, concludes his little article with "You see? Even the NFL legends know that the XFL will succeed!!"
Anyway, let's take a look at some of the unique and allegedly innovative XFL rules. As implied above, there will be no fair catches on punts, and punts, after traveling a certain distance, will be live balls. Also, there will be no rules that give extra protection to quarterbacks, such as the "in the grasp" rule. Gee, that's safe! Was it ever considered that these rules were part of an 80+-year evolution? Also, in the XFL, players, coaches, locker rooms, and huddles will be miked, and cameras will be placed in locker rooms, sidelines and in helmets of selected players. And the XFL prides itself on being more "honest, straightforward and real," more "visceral and raw" than the NFL! Come on! How real are those canned, "safe for NBC" conversations going to be? You cannot have it both ways. Either it is a "soap opera" or it is the "real deal." Just to give you some insight into the mindset of our new football innovator, take a look at what McMahon says here: "We have great respect for the game of football. But at same time I recognize there is nothing in sport that is sacred. Therefore, if nothing in sport is sacred, then why can't you have some fun with it? Why can't you present it in a more reality based way? Why can't you show true emotion the players have playing this game?" "True emotion" in football... without expletives? There is nothing sacred in football?!?! This guy and his new league are all gimmick... trust me!
But, McMahon is famous for talking out of both sides of his mouth. In one breath, regarding his sports-entertainment enterprises, he says that "You really can bring the family to this event." Then, in the next, he says, "Yes, they (the cheerleaders) will be hot babes. ... We're going to have three or four of them surround our announcers -- who'll be sitting in the stands, by the way. ... Then, when the quarterback fumbles or the wideout drops a pass -- and we know who he's dating -- I want our reporters right back in her face on the sidelines demanding to know whether the two of them did the wild thing last night." Oh, yea, and by the way, "wild thing" is supposed to mean mixing pop rocks with cola. That is the way he tries to slither out of scrutiny. Yea, and my name is Leroy Leathernuts. ; ) At any rate, sounds like a real family event that I want to take my wife and kids to.
But all the self-generated media hype aside, like the controversy of the hiring of Jesse Venture to be an announcer, there are some very serious negative consequences to pay if the XFL is to become the league of the future, which XFL officials would say is implied in the movie "The 6th Day" which used XFL memorabilia and XFL-style play. Another cheesy ploy for attention. Some of these costs are not being contemplated by the genuine football fan, whose senses are currently lulled by yet another awesome NFL season.
For one, though the XFL is not attempting to dip into the NFL pool of players, offering modest $45,000 contracts, another way they are insidiously giving the appearance that they empathize with football fans, the XFL has already begun diluting the pool of players and coaches in the CFL, the Arena League and NFL-Europe. It is from these three leagues that they are getting the bulk of their players and coaches. However, the CFL, the Arena League and NFL-Europe, these legitimate leagues, have provided the NFL with valid "minor" leagues. It is very possible that the addition of the XFL will come at the eventual expense of one or more of these leagues. Probably, NFL-Europe, as many of the players I am sure would rather remain in the States and play, which is a shame as NFL-Europe is just starting to become a great tool for gaining international exposure for "real" American football.
The second potential, negative residual effect of a successful XFL is on the futures of football betting and handicapping and the increasingly popular hobby of fantasy football. Can you really see being able to bet on or run a "real" fantasy football league with games played in Vince McMahon's XFL? These two institutions, one which has been around since the beginning of sports, the other gaining more steam with its appeal to the contemporary fan, would be ruined by the XFL modus operandi. But, I guess that's okay. Us guys don't need gambling or rotisserie sports to enjoy the games. What we need is a soap opera to keep our attention!
One final example of XFL cheese, they are listed in the "individual fantasy football league" directory at Yahoo! along with the likes of the "Bumbling Idiots Fantasy Football League" and my very own "George Blanda Rotisserie Football League." Listen, this guy may have tainted the integrity of wrestling, but don't let him do it to football. ...
... Oh, and as far as the NFL not being exciting. I just got done watching Vikings WR Cris Carter catch his 1,000th career reception... a touchdown.
Copyright © 1999 by GBRFL. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08 Oct 2014 11:56:19 -0700