I was reminded on Twitter that Thursday was the 10-year anniversary of the start of the XFL.
The new football league created by WWF owner Vince McMahon lasted just one season, but it certainly was a memorable one.
When it was announced Birmingham was getting one of the eight franchises, Scoop and I were elated. I bought a Birmingham Bolts hat, while Scoop ponied up the big bucks and purchased a jersey.
Somehow he still owns the jersey, and proudly displayed it on Thursday.
Leading up to the season opener, Scoop and I actually got a chance to following a kinesiology class to a Bolts practice where I interview the head coach, Gerry DiNardo. He was an ass, but I got a good story out of it.
We weren’t going to miss the season opening, so we purchased our tickets as soon as they went on sale. We were part of the 35,321 people in attendance on that chilly day at Legion Field.
I went through my really old Alabamian papers to find my column about the experience at the first Bolts game. This is unedited from the version that ran in the paper.
New football league truly a different X-perience
BIRMINGHAM — Well, the XFL officially kicked off this past weekend, and I’ll admit I watched the game on Saturday night and then went to the Birmingham Bolts game on Sunday.
Heck, once Vince McMahon said that the XFL would be a mix of hard-nosed football and sex for the price of $15, there was no way I was going to miss this.
For the most part, the XFL proved to be quite entertaining although equally entertaining was the guy sitting in front of me on Sunday who chugged back nine brewdogs in a matter of an hour.
Now for those of you that missed the experience, here’s what you missed.
There is no coin toss in the XFL. Instead a player from each team springs 20 yards and dives to recover the football, which is lying at midfield.
This is perhaps one of the coolest things I have ever seen in a football game and definitely gets the fans fired up for the game. However, the point was brought up that there should be a rule that the player attempting to recover the ball had to weigh in at more than 300 pounds. Now that would be X-citing.
Another one of the more interesting rules in the XFL is the fact you can choose to put a nickname on your jersey. This was a great idea to see guys wearing their nicknames like Chuckwagon, Threat and B.Mack.
Then the idea was shot to heck by Rod Smart of the Las Vegas Outlaws, who decided to put on his jersey, and I couldn’t make this up if I tried, “He Hate Me.”
That’s right, “He Hate Me.” Who hates him? Well, apparently his English teacher did!
The WWF presence in the league was definitely apparent during player introductions during the game. Some guys were telling their wives that they loved them, while others were sending “a shoutout to my peoples.”
I’m sorry, but that has got to go.
For the game, the players were miked and cameras were everywhere, which gave the game a different feel.
Was it for the better? Well, that’s kind of hard to tell right now, but I do know one problem with miking players.
At exactly 3:40 p.m., the first F-bomb was dropped on the Legion Field crowd, as Bolts quarterback Casey Weldon voiced his displeasure over a misfired pass.
While it was quite entertaining to listen to some of the players cuss up a storm, I had to wonder what the parents of the three little children sitting beside me thought.
One thing I didn’t like about the game was there was limited commentary from the public address announcer.
Aside from announcing first downs, the PA guy was silent and that left the game without a flow to it.
Now I feel as though I am forgetting something … Oh yes, the cheerleaders.
Yeah, it’s pretty safe to say they are a welcome addition. In fact, the Bolts announced assured everyone they would do something, which can’t be printed in this newspaper, though if you want to know, I’ll be glad to tell you in person.
<EN: Scoop was afraid to print what the PA announcer said — “These are the ladies that are going to keep you guys up (long pause) all season long.” Boo on you Scoop!>
Glad to see they’re being tasteful about the whole situation.
So while the XFL isn’t near as high quality football as the NFL, if you go into the game just looking for a fun time, then you will enjoy the whole experience.
I definitely encourage all football fans to go to at least one game. But please, buy your ticket ahead of time.
I am tired of listening to everyone complain about how they had to wait in line for an hour to get tickets.
(Sniff, sniff) It’s called TicketMaster!
Now there were a few things I left out of the column.
The stadium sold beer by the six-pack during the game, as well as hard liquor. That created quite an interesting atmosphere as the game reached the fourth quarter.
Stuff was being thrown in the stands, people were stealing signs and families were leaving as quickly as possible.
As for the game itself, Memphis beat Birmingham 22-20.
Memphis running back Rashaan Salaam rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Of course, since the pot-smoking bastage had screwed my Chicago Bears over, I booed him at every chance.
Weldon wasn’t very good in the game, completing 24-for-42 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. When he was misfiring in the second half, Scoop and I started a “We want Jay” chant, referring to back-up quarterback and former Alabama great Jay Barker.
The chant quickly spread throughout the stadium, much to our delight.
Surprisingly we didn’t go to any more games that season. I’m not sure why.
Birmingham finished 2-8, losing its last seven games. The league folded after the season.
I still can’t believe it has been 10 years since that first Bolts game. It certainly was a memorable experience, and one that Scoop and I will be able to laugh about 30 years down the road.
• Worked for the Houston Chronicle all day Wednesday. 14 hours, $175 bucks and two free meals. Not too bad.
• I purchased the new Airborne Toxic Event single “Changing.” The band offered a pretty cool deal for anyone that purchased the single — send the iTunes receipt, and they sent the song “This Losing” for free. Very cool.
• In case you missed this video, here is the most illegal thing in the history of wrestling. I can’t stop laughing.
• Would the media quit bitching about the weather in Dallas. So what, it’s cold and snowy. Guess what, so is most of the country right now. Just shut up — and I’m especially talking to you Peter King.
• Since I hate both teams in the Super Bowl, I’m not going to break down the game. I’m just hoping for a good game and career-ending injuries for Aaron Rodgers and/or Ben Rapelisberger. Green Bay 27, Pittsburgh 20.