This was supposed to be revolutionary. This was supposed to be cutting edge.`
This was supposed to be the league that will soon have the NFL quaking in its collective cleats.
This was supposed to be football Vince McMahon style.
It might as well have been football Ed McMahon style.
XFL? Harumph. This seemed more like Brand-XFL just another generic, ordinary football league that will die a slow death if it doesn't give us what it promised: Something radically and rebelliously different.
I went to a game Saturday night expecting arena ball, an AC/DC concert, a keg party and last call at Rachel's all rolled into one. What I got was a football game, just about like every other football game I've seen for the last five months.
Not that the XFL opener between the Orlando Rage and the Chicago Enforcers didn't have its moments. The atmosphere was absolutely incredible. All 36,000 tickets were sold, and thousands of fans were turned away at the gate. It was a stroke of marketing genius by the XFL to only sell lower-bowl seats at the Florida Citrus Bowl. You want fans thinking this is a tough ticket.
One Budweiser stand at the stadium sold 18 kegs before the end of the first quarter and shut down amid rowdy fans chanting, "Beer! Beer! Beer!"
Scantily clad cheerleaders went into the stands and wiggled and jiggled in front of ogling men and wide-eyed 14-year-old boys with gel smeared in their spiked hair. There is no in-the-grasp rule for XFL quarterbacks, but they may need to implement one for the cheerleaders.
"I feel like I'm at Mons Venus," said 27-year-old Geoff Mason as he gawked at a pouty cheerleader named Deliana. She's the one who is described in the media guide as a "5-foot cutie who thinks cigars are a turn-on."
It's this type of innuendo that the XFL has used to try to persuade us its league is something unique. League publicists have done their best to make it sound violent and voyeuristic. The national-TV opener from Las Vegas pitted the hometown Outlaws against the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. And when the league expands, I suppose we'll have the Detroit Double Murderers against the Minnesota Child Molesters.
But it takes more than savage nicknames, a couple of rule changes and some busty women to make it different. Risque cheerleaders? You see the same on NFL Sundays. Loud music? You get that from the Arena Football League. Nutso fans with multiple body-piercings? Check out an Oakland Raiders game? Show us something we haven't already seen, XFL.
We don't need another run-of-the-mill football league. We have college football. We have the NFL. We have NFL Europe. We've had the USFL and the World Football League.
We don't want legitimacy from McMahon; we want illegitimacy. We don't want point spreads; we want plot lines. We want Rage coach Galen Hall kidnapping McMahon's vampish daughter Stephanie, and Triple H barging into Orlando's locker room to rescue her. We want a linebacker not only sacking the quarterback but whacking him over the head with a folding chair.
The last thing we need is Vince McMahon in charge of a real league. That's like putting Larry Flynt in charge of Gentlemen's Quarterly.