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February 5th, 2001

XFL

XFL

My approach to the XFL was “curious but skeptical.” Would this WWF “extreme” football turn out to be like the USFL or the World League, or would it actually be a worthwhile contender to the NFL? I checked out the first two televised league games on Saturday evening, and they weren’t half bad.

The rule changes were mildly interesting. Among the more notable: instead of a coin toss, there is a two-man race-and-scramble for a football to gain initial possession. It also seems like kneeling the ball at the end of a half isn’t an option, forcing players to actually play. What I like most is the idea that the players have a small base salary and then are paid more to actually win each game.

The XFL also experiemented heavily with a new announce style and drastically different camera angles. The new camera angles, in general, were pretty effective as long as they weren’t overdone (I found myself getting dizzy on occasion). In fact, I liked the above-and-behind shot of the players on running plays. As far as announcers, Jesse Ventura and Matt Whateverhisnameis hardly said anything during the one game; Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler (who host WWF RAW on Mondays) did a pretty decent job with their game, aside from Ross’ tendency to market the product whose audience was already watching.

The caliber of the games was certainly better than the USFL and approaching that of second-string NFL. What I think I liked most about the games (cheerleaders? um…) was the quick pace at which they moved. There wasn’t much downtime during actual gameplay.

I think XFL has a shot. If they chill out with trying to be so “extreme” and focus in on a number of “innovations” that separate them from the NFL, I think there’s a chance the XFL might be around for a minute. I guess what it will all come down to, though, is crowd interest: will America want more football after the Super Bowl? Vince McMahon and crew are betting on it. -ram

Posted in Sports

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