Front and center in the sports world this past weekend wasn't the Pro Bowl, NHL All-Star game or the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Instead, much of the focus revolved around the first weekend of Vince McMahon's XFL.
Like most of you, I was both curious and skeptical about the type of football that would be produced. It was known right away that the XFL set a low budget for signing players, meaning that unlike the former USFL, McMahon's target initially would be players who were either unsuccessful in their early attempts to make the grade over the long haul in the NFL or former NFL veterans who would bring more name recognition.
|Los Angeles Xtreme quarterback Tommy Maddox played in his first XFL game Sunday. The Xtreme lost to the San Francisco Demons 15-13.|
And while I expected some of the WWF's influence, the question we were all anxiously awaiting was this: to what extreme?
What I found in watching the game between the New York/New Jersey Hitmen and the Las Vegas Outlaws was that I could stay tuned only up until halftime before I was looking for other sports alternatives.
First of all, the WWF atmosphere was far too evident from the outset. Right away I was aware that football would be secondary in the current XFL. From the ridiculous players' introductions to shifting camera angles that made me dizzy, I had seen enough of the XFL by the second quarter.
And how about the names on the back of the jerseys? BMack was Brandon Sanders, and on the back of Rod Smart's jersey was He Hate Me. If the objective is developing players and gaining some name recognition, this isn't getting it done.
||I won't be back watching until I find out that the game itself has become the focal point. ”
As far as the personnel on the field is concerned, you are looking at a number of former first-round busts in the NFL, young players who failed in their initial attempt at sticking on an NFL roster or former NFL veterans who at one time were big names in college football. Sure, a few may showcase enough ability and potential to garner another opportunity in the NFL, but for the most part the talent level is not even on the radar screen compared to what we saw in the USFL.
Of the former first-round disappointments, there are players such as RB Vaughn Dunbar, RB John Avery, QB Jim Druckenmiller, RB Rashaan Salaam and QB Tommy Maddox looking for another opportunity to turn around their football fortunes.
Young players with hopes of garnering favorable commentary include RBs Brian Shay, Chrys Chukwuma, Ken Oxendine and Troy Davis. Notables such as QB Jeff Brohm, WR Alvin Harper, QB Casey Weldon, LB Kurt Gouveia, TE Tyji Armstrong, RB Ray Zellars and RB Roosevelt Potts head the list of former NFL veterans looking to continue their pro football careers.
|Evidently, the XFL's marketing campaign is working.|
In the future, it will be interesting to see if the XFL makes an attempt to land a few of the marquee names that bring with them the necessary star power.
We'll also have to see how they tweak the broadcasts. In the first weekend of action, so much was going on with the camera angles and other distractions that I found it difficult-to-impossible to really enjoy the game itself.
I know the television ratings for NBC were above and beyond what was expected, but it will be interesting to see how many dropoffs they had after the game was under way and how many fans tune in to further action in the weeks and months to come. For me, I won't be back watching until I find out that the game itself has become the focal point.