XFL known as X-treme Failure

By Staff Writer
January 31, 2002

After only one season of play, Vince McMahon’s football creation, the XFL folded in May of 2001 after suffering $36.2 million dollars in losses after tax charges. The XFL was toted as not being for “pantywaists or sissies,” by McMahon. Shareholders in World WrestlingFederation Entertainment, the parent company of the XFL lost 28 cents per share in the companies stock. Fourth quarter losses for WWFE were in excess of $20.4 million dollars.

The XFL enjoyed record-setting ratings during their first week of play, shortly after the NFLs season ended with the Super Bowl. Over 10 percent of American households had tuned in to witness a player named “He Hate Me” (Rod Smart, now with the Philadelphia Eagles) and his Las Vegas Outlaws beat the New York-New Jersey Hitmen 9-0.

McMahon and Dick Ebersol, Chairman of NBC Sports, were both quick to gloat over the instant success of the league, which was thrown together in under a year. That success didn’t last long, as ratings steadily dwindled down throughout the two month season of play.

McMahon retooled his product several different times before finally deciding to “discontinue” the XFL in the “best interest of our shareholders and our partners.”

The XFL tried many gimmicks during its only season, including allowing cameras into the cheerleaders locker rooms. They also instituted dizzying camera angles and omnipresent microphones that picked up sounds all around the field.

McMahon assembled a cast of commentators plucked from within the World Wrestling Federation, including former Atlanta Falcon commentator, Jim Ross. He also added Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura to the booth. Chicago Bears legend Dick Butkus was also involved in commentating some games.

Eventually, as the XFL’s ratings plummeted, advertisers like Honda pulled their spots. In a last-ditch effort to attract advertisers, McMahon gave out free ad time during one week of play. He also got Governor Ventura involved in a “story-line” where he confronted the coach of the New York-New Jersey Hitmen.

The rules of the XFL were certainly different than those in the NFL. Players got paid more money to win games. McMahon did away with the pre-game coin toss, and instead added a scramble for the football between players of the opposing teams. There were no such things as “fair catches,” and there were no “extra-point kicks.” Players were forced to go for two points after scoring a touchdown.

Many television critics feel as though the XFL brought down the credibility of NBC Sports, and the NBC network, as well as the UPN and TNN networks.

Incidentally, the XFL joins many other NFL competitors in the realm of failed attempts. The United States Football League lasted for three season in the 1980s, and the World Football League lasted for two seasons, from 1973-1975.

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