You have to hand it to Vince McMahon. Most wouldn’t try and duplicate something originally deemed a “colossal failure,” (his words, not ours) but here we are with Vinnie Mac’s announcement the XFL will return in 2020.
Originally not a huge success in 2001, the XFL sought to pull in football fans during the NFL offseason with lesser-quality players playing games during prime time NBC viewing hours. Why more folks didn’t stay home Saturday nights to see “He Hate Me” and other players scramble for loose balls to determine who’d kick off and receive is beyond us.
Jokes aside, McMahon admitted the original league’s failure to Bob Costas in 2002 (around the 6:30 mark in the below clip) and took pride in giving many players the chance to play pro football, some of which went on to play in Super Bowls. (Rams receiver Yo Murphy, anyone?)
And while there were plenty of colorful characters playing for the league, the original XFL will be most remembered for the gimmicks that put the old American Basketball Association to shame forever.
Where else were you going to see Dick Butkus introduce an opening football scramble and be followed by Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s recap of said scramble via replay?
(For a second there it sounded like “The Body” forgot he wasn’t calling a wrestling match.)
And of course there was the “Bubba Cam,” which took you inside teams’ huddles and sideline conversations, recalled below in an episode of ’30 for 30.’ This was actually a valiant effort designed to give viewers a deeper look into a pro football game.
(The fact there was an XFL ’30 for 30′ says a lot…Not a series usually dedicated to colossal success stories.)
When the “Bubba Cam” didn’t draw millions in viewers and ratings began to drop, the XFL did what WWE did a lot of at the time…Promote scantily-clad, attractive women:
And any brief recap of the madness that was the XFL would not be complete without Rod Smart, aka “He Hate Me”:
Originally a running back with the Las Vegas Outlaws, Smart eventually went on to play for the Carolina Panthers for four years including their 2003 AFC Championship season. “He Hate Me” had a nice second act…Will the XFL? Like we said above, you’ve got to hand it to Vince for trying.
And, heck, if the NFL doesn’t want St. Louis, maybe the XFL will!