In 2001, something happened that was the unholy union of my two favorite things in the world. Vince McMahon, owner of the WWF and one of best characters the WWF/WWE ever had, decided to start his own football league. Fast forward to today and it would still be an unholy union of my two favorite things. So, you could say I really enjoyed the XFL 30 for 30 the other night.
How could something like the XFL miss? At 14, I knew that wrestling was awesome and that football controlled my soul, so I was down for the XFL. But at 14, you’re not really concerned with the inner workings of what you watch on tv. I knew that what the XFL was putting out there was absolutely nuts and completely different from anything that I’ve ever saw with the NFL. But I never knew how tumultuous things were behind the scenes. That was until last night’s XFL 30 for 30. ESPN has knocked these documentaries out of the park seemingly every time. I really can’t think of one that has been subpar. This is one of the few things that I think ESPN does well.
I knew about Vince and everything he did with bringing WWF to the forefront of American entertainment but though I knew who Dick Ebersol sort of was I didn’t know his plight. I didn’t know that he created SNL with Lorne Michaels, then left and SNL started to tank, came back and had the great idea of focusing on a comic named Eddie Murphy and brought the show back to prominence. Then Ebersol and Vince created Saturday Night Main Event that was a huge hit. I can remember old guys telling me that they would all get together with friends and girlfriends and watch wrestling on Saturday nights before they went out and got turnt. It certainly seemed that Vince and Ebersol were drawn together. Drawn together to create a football league to go toe to toe with the NFL, which is nuts if you think about it. But that’s what Vince loves. He loves not so much competition but squashing the life out of a competitor just like he did to ECW and WCW. So Vince and Ebersol met up and started brainstorming. They said they wrote all the ideas on a notepad. Man would I love to see that notepad and the ideas that didn’t make the cut. Like they had to think of stuff like defense can have steel chairs on 4th down or the offense can climb ladders that are placed in the endzones. Just totally off the wall ideas. Vince had a press conference on February 3rd 2000 and said in one year the league will start. Only thing was that had absolutely nothing. No teams, no coaches, no players no tv deal. Vince and Ebersol got all that done in a year. That’s pretty impressive to accomplish.
To make a splash in grand Vince McMahon fashion, he decided to invade a NFL game in the way of flying a XFL blimp over a an actual NFL game. Unfortunately his blimp did a Hindenburg and crashed into a seafood restaurant. Kind of a bad omen when that happens. I mean not many seemingly impromptu football leagues survive very long after their blimp crashes into seafood restaurants. Look it up.
So some of the ideas that they decided to have that were different than regular football were; 1. No fair catches, which is a big slap in the face for all the people who believe that football causes lifelong brain trauma. 2. Cheerleaders are practically prostitutes who are were encouraged to date the players and the announcers which became great news for Jonathan Coachmen. 3. Having active governors announce games ala Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Don’t think any current NFL announcers have ever balanced a state’s budget then tried to determine if Dez Bryant completed the catch on air(of course he didn’t catch it). 4. Possession of the ball to start the game was determined by two guy running from the 35 to midfield and then spiking themselves to the ground and whoever got the ball received it first. About a 3rd of the league suffered career ending injuries just on that alone but currently there isn’t a lawsuit of former XFL players suing Vince because of brain injuries. Imagine bringing a guy whose only job was that play. Like Chris Gatling or something like that. 5. Players jerseys had not their real names on the back but instead had nicknames and full on phrases on them. Of course when most people think of the XFL they think of He Hate Me. His real name is Rod Smart lover of alliteration, but Rod Smart left this world as soon as he put that jersey on. For the rest of his life, He Hate Me will reign supreme. Those are rules that didn’t translate to the NFL. But the XFL did bring about some things we see today. Such as the skycam and micing the players.
Everything started off well with the ratings. The first game drew in 54 million viewers. That’s an insane number. But things in week 2 hit a major snag when they lost transmission to a really good game because some moron forgot to fill the generator with gas and they lost power. How does that happen? It’s amazing that Vince let the guy live. Actually, they never said that Vince did let the guy live so I will go believing that that person now resides in the Vegas desert. On top of that, since they stopped the game until they got power again meaning that SNL hosted by J-Lo was going to go on later than the 11:30 start time. The idea of J-Lo just sitting there waiting to go on because an XFL game went into double overtime is wild. After that, it was all but over for the league. The damage was done. Vince tried to get ratings by making the XFL exactly like the WWE with cameramen getting thrown into doors, sending players into the cheerleader’s locker room and by pulling the old have Rodney Dangerfield walk out of a shower naked bit. None of it worked and the ratings broke records for having the worst ratings for a show during prime time television. Then Vince went on Bob Costas’s show to repair the image of the XFL and he was getting grilled by Bob and a pure miracle occurred because as mad as Vince was he didn’t send Costas into the afterlife. But soon after that, Ebersol convinced Vince to fold up his tent and not attempt to bring the league back for a 2nd year. As quickly as it arrived, the XFL was dead.
The documentary ended with Vince and Ebersol having dinner. They spoke about the the XFL and Ebersol asked Vince would he ever attempt to bring it back and Vince said I would. That made feel all types of feels. Vince alluded to having some discussions with Jerry Jones about the league. How fantastic would that be? The answer is a lot fantastic. When Vince said the league could come back I immediately thought of the ending of Batman Begins when Alfred mentions about improving the southeast corner and then that music kicks in. Friggin electric. The NFL needs a developmental league so what better way to introduce players to the NFL then by having them knock each other unconscious to see who gets the ball first? LETSSSSS GOOOOOO!!!!!!
Top 3 Vince quotes from This was the XFL
This will not be a league for pantywastes and sissys
You the media can’t wait for us to die but I would hope you would die before the XFL does
I wish he was bigger, in reference to wish Costas was larger so he could of murdered him on tv.