View Full Version : Great Debates Lite: Vince McMahon's XFL--good idea or shameless publicity grab?
Duck Duck Goose
02-02-2001, 03:31 PM
Well, okay, how far can he go with this? Does the NFL have anything to worry about? Is this something that's going to fly, or will it be out of our hair and off our radar screens by the May sweeps period?
Are his rule changes nifty, or just dumb? Are we going to see more injuries, as some are predicting? Should players be paid to win? Where's he getting players from, anyway? I've never heard of the New York/New Jersey Hitmen and the Las Vegas Outlaws. Failed pro athletes? Has he got a farm system somewhere?
IMHO, the whole thing is a shameless publicity grab, I predict there will be at least one player paralyzed for life after being tackled, there will be at least 3 school-age kids injured after using XFL moves during pickup football games, that legislation will then be introduced in Congress to ban the XFL, and the whole thing will be off our radar screens, if not by the May sweeps period, then by the September "new shows" period at the latest.
I predict there will be one overnight superstar who will weary us with his new catch phrase and obnoxiously grinning presence on magazine covers nationwide, garnering celebrity endorsements galore and getting a 2-movie deal with the current Hollywood "flavor of the month" bimbo.
I predict that at least one of the cheerleaders will turn out to be a spokesperson, official or otherwise, for PETA or Save the Whales or some other "cause".
Oh, and I predict that the ratings will go through the roof before people get tired of it.
02-02-2001, 04:26 PM
a) probable low standard of play compared to NFL
b) much greater potential for career-ending injuries to QBs and RBs
c) weather conditions typical of midwinter unlikely to attract fans to stadiums in northern cities
d) projected demographic (males 18-29?) unlikely to stay home Saturdays nights
e) low player salaries/underinsurance will attract increasingly bad press as inevitable injuries occur
f) many of the 'innovations' touted by the XFL seem to concern the method of TV coverage, and the most effective can easily be cherry-picked and incorporated into NFL broadcasts
g) Three letters: WFL.
Of course, the mere fact that I am predicting failure means that the damn thing will probably be a monster success. In any event, the NFL juggernaut wasn't built in a day, and neither was the WWF, for that matter. P. T. Barnum II (V. McMahon) has demonstrated shrewd judgement of his audience in the past, so if the XFL lasts beyond the first year, who knows?
02-02-2001, 04:41 PM
:confused: I haven't heard about any illegal tackles in the NFL that are legal in XFL. Do you know if there are any?
02-02-2001, 04:44 PM
A couple responses on both sides of the coin here. To those that say it'll fail because the level of play is poorer, I have two words for you: NCAA football. No failure there, right? And XFL will be a step UP from college football -- the people who played there, but just couldn't make it in the NFL. Heck, they even have an ex-Heisman winner in the league! But there are plenty of ex-college players who love the game, and are grateful to have the opportunity to prolong their careers. Talent pool is NO problem.
One concern I have is with attendance. As Rocket88 says, it'll be cold in some of those cities in February and March! Also, look at the majority of the "improvements" made by the XFL. Most are made with the fan at home in mind -- mikes in the huddles, the lockerrooms, etc. So a fan might ask himself "why GO to a game when I can get a BETTER experience watching it on TV in the warmth of my own house?" The in-person fan will, in effect, lose out on some of the modifications that the XFL is so proud of.
I disagree that we'll see many more injuries, or that there'll be any Congressional action (however TIC that might have been). The main difference injury-wise will be quarterbacks, as the XFL has eliminated the "in the grasp" rule, so they're not down til they're DOWN. Simple solution: Go down, dammit! QBs will still have the option of sliding at the end of a run with no hits allowed. We'll see that come back into prevelance (don't see it as much nowadays). And the XFL will also have more than its fair share of very mobile QBs, as they'll have a better chance of evading those grasps and completing a pass.
A number of people also are huffing and puffing about punt returns, due mainly to the XFL promoting is as "The Most Exciting Down" or something like that. Yes, there are no fair catches. HOWEVER -- players will not be able to leave the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted, and there is a five-yard "halo" around the player until he catches it, as opposed to a two-yard halo the NFL uses. Two safeguards often ignored by those wishing to portray the league as barbaric.
I also fail to see what might qualify as a specific "XFL move" that would be the cause of injuries to teens as Duck Duck Goose claims. Or is this in the same vein as the sensationalized "wrestling murder" in Florida??
I think this could work. As theorized, a large number of fans are JUST getting into football when the playoffs and Super Bowl roll around. It stands to reason that if football was on after that, they'd stick around. While Saturday night might not be a stay-at-home night, games are also on UPN and TNN Sunday afternoons and evenings.
And while I agree that Vince McMahon is part PT Barnum, he also has the financial and creative backing of Dick Ebersol and NBC, so it's not like he has full reign over things here.
Sorry for the length ... but I've read a number of articles predicting failure and heaping scorn on the XFL based on sensationalized rule changes and fears of WWFish action. That, to be honest, is one big concern I have leading me to believe it stands a good chance to fail: They haven't convinced enough people otherwise. I know too many people who aren't convinced it won't be fake, "worked" action, with Stone Cold Steve Austin scoring the winning TD each Sunday. If they can't get across that it's real, it'll NEVER succeed. And while Vegas having a line helps, they're not doign themselves any favors that I've seen in PR moves.
02-02-2001, 04:57 PM
Duck Duck, you form the question as if you can't have both a good idea and a shameless publicity grab. I think the XFL might be both.
The XFL isn't competing with the NFL, and never plans to. That's why the season begins after the Super Bowl.
Some of the stunts they're going to pull (wiring players and cheerleaders, in-your-face interviews during the game, having little skits with cheerleaders and players to go along with the games) mirrors the WWF. What's interesting is that there's still going to be football played. The caliber of play should be okay, at least as good as the best college teams. But will the audience be into the game? Without a rabid crowd, sporting events get boring.
I'm sure they'll have to tweak things as they go along, but I really think this has a shot to pull a nice little audience. And, I doubt the costs will spiral since NBC and McMahon own all the teams and have set salaries.
I also love the idea of paying players for winning. As a true fan of football, I don't see anything wrong with rewarding players for playing hard and winning.
What will be interesting is what will happen when certain players become stars, whether through their play or their trash talk, and they get an offer to play in the NFL for hundreds of thousands of more $$$$. How will McMahon respond? Whatever happens, I bet he'll turn it into a shameless publicity stunt ...
02-02-2001, 11:45 PM
I long ago gave up predicting whther any given TV show or any other type of entertainment was going to be a hit. I've been wrong way too many times.
One thing is certain: though I HATE just about every aspect of the XFL, Vince MacMahon isn't concerned with me. I'm a 39 year old white guy, which means I'm WAY too old to be of interest to him. MOST of the reporters and commentators who deride the idea are even older than I am. We can tell you what we dislike about the scheme, but we CAN'T say with any certainty whether it will appeal to teenage boys, who are the real target audience.
The "mainstream" sports (football, baseball) have been declining rapidly in popularity, ESPECIALLY among teenagers. For several years now, the WWF has trounced Monday Night Football among teenage male viewers- and television advertisers are EAGER to pander to teenagers.
Advertisers believe that people my age and older are set in their ways and not responsive to advertising. (They may be right- we 39+ year olds have learned from bitter experience that NO after-shave will make us more attractive to women, NO sneaker will help us jump like Michael Jordan, and NO beer makes us more charming!) So, advertisers don't care about us. They want young, stupid, gullible viewers- that's why CBS has tried so hard to shed its image as "a senior citizens' network," and aired stuff like "Survivor."
I will NEVER understand the appeal of "Survivor," but it's a huge hit, presumably among young people I don't associate with. Who's to say those same young people won't eat up the XFL?
I CAN state confidently that the football will be lousy- but it could be a huge hit anyway, if the show biz values and aesthetics appeal to kids.
02-03-2001, 12:03 AM
Hey, let's not forget it's FOOTBALL in the middle of basketball season! If it is at all watchable, those of us that go into sports withdraw between football and baseball will have a re-newed interest in life. I pray no one gets hurt, and I hope the hype will stay off the playing field, but god, I want it to be good!!! I'd really like to have a San Francisco/LA rivalry again.
I have a feeling that XFL will be a mild success, but not because any of the "controversial" new rules will make it more or less watchable. Whatever success it has will be due to the same reasons that the USFL was a mild success (OK, I know that the USFL eventually collapsed, but for a while everyone seemed to be watching it, and they did have the NFL running scared briefly). Unlike the other three major sports, pro football could actually support more teams than already exist--I think the NFL might eventually consist of 40 clubs. Some of the markets the XFL is playing to--Los Angeles, Birmingham and Memphis come to mind--could potentially be in the running for new NFL franchises. If I was a fan in one of these places, I might come to the XFL games in an attempt to show the NFL that a strong market existed for pro football in my town.
My prediction--clubs like San Francisco, New York/New Jersey and Chicago will have a tough time carving out a fan base. Those teams in cities without an NFL franchise will do alright.
02-03-2001, 12:47 AM
It'll reach an older demographic of middle aged white married males who still haven't gotten over Jordan retiring. Us young urban trendsetters in the 18-34 demographic got better thangs to do than to hang out around watching some sublevel pro ball on Saturday nights, yo. Maybe if one of the teams was the "Compton Niggaz" and some of them freaks from Cash Money Millionaires' "Project Bitch" video was the cheerleaders AND if they gave away free forties.
I'd watch for the just the freaks and the forties.
YO! BITCH MacMAHON! WHERE THE FREAKS AND THE FORTIES AT, @*&(^%^$#@%???
If professional soccer could survive here, so can the XFL.
Talent is not a concern; while the XFL will never attract any superstars, there still a good, hard-working a crop of players who will give their best. Furthermore, because the talent level is pretty much even for the teams, the games should be much more competitive. Stark contrast to the NFL...and parity, shmarity; two 8-8 teams out of 31, and one of them was the freaking Redskins. Anytime the NFC Championship is a one-sided massacre, there's a problem. It won't happen in the XFL.
I like the new rule changes, if for no other reason that it'll open up the game and make it more...well, fun! (Which is the whole point of the league, in case you missed it.) Injuries could be a concern with the more liberal tackling rules, but every sport has injuries, and I'm certain someone's going to step in if far too many players get hurt. I always thought that the "in the grasp" rule was just plain silly, and even I have to admit the NFL has gotten waaay to zealous in cracking down on end zone dances (the Rams' bob and weave is offensive? Are you kidding me??).
Sexy cheerleaders? Possibly suggestive dialogue? Yawn. When something actually happens, like one of those sexy cheerleaders actually showing us something (and I don't mean the playoffs), then I'll be concerned. Until then, don't blast Vinny for doing what's been done countless times before.
Fans aren't going to go because it's too cold? Yo, ever seen Lambeau Field during crunch time? Part of the game, people, part of the game. You want a nice 'n toasty indoor arena, watch basketball.
And it just so happens that I don't have a wild night on the town planned every Saturday...or any Saturday, for that matter, and let's not go there...despite the fact that I'm inside the coveted demographic (no, really!). And the fact that the XFL is in the "graveyard time slot" just means little or no competition for viewers. Which just makes perfectly good sense. Find your own niche. Don't bite the bear. What the hell was CBS thinking pitting its flagship program against Friends, anyway?
So there you have it. Fun, freewheeling games. Entertainment. A slot that fans with only one VCR will appreciate. Real parity. No pretentions. Make up the rules as you go along. Whatever happens, I sure as hell want this to succeed.
02-04-2001, 01:20 AM
Whether or not the XFL is a Shameless Publicity Grab is beyond dispute; of course it is, ALL pro sports is an SPG. You don't think the NFL is in it for honor and a little exercise, do you? :)
The real question is whether or not it'll be a successful publicity grab. My guess is no:
1. It's been done. Where's the WFL? Dead. Where's the USFL? Dead.
2. Unlike the WFL and the USFL, the XFL already had a below-the-NFL competitor in Arena Football, which really is a different brand of football.
3. While I have all the respect in the world for Vince McMahon's hype abilities, he's never been involved in professional sports before, so it would be folly to assume he knows how to run a pro sports league. He can't script these results, unless he really wants to go to prison.
4. If the XFL's catch is that they're "Extreme," they'd dead in the water. It'll be interesting for a year, and then it won't be extreme anymore. If violent sports drew the fans, the NHL would be the most successful sports league on Earth.
Duck Duck Goose
05-11-2001, 07:43 AM
And the correct answer is (B), (http://www.msnbc.com/news/571754.asp?%20bt=msn&btu=http://%20%20go.msn.com/zzj/1/1.asp?target=http://msn.com) "out of our hair and off our radar screens by the May sweeps period". I am allowed to be right every so often. :cool:
WWF, NBC fold
XFL after one season
Pro football league was critical,
TV ratings disappointment
By Leonard Shapiro
THE WASHINGTON POST
May 11 — The XFL ended its brief existence yesterday after one season. The final blow was the league’s inability to find a new broadcasting partner after NBC, a partner in the venture, decided it could not continue to air games next season either in prime time or weekend afternoons.
And I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be wrong about my other predictions. Mercifully, we were spared all of the media appurtenances of the overnight hit.
whew, that was a close one! Now, what's up next? Spy plane dueling? Naked Supreme Court Justice jello wrestling? Strip ping-pong?
05-11-2001, 07:49 AM
As a stockholder in General Electric, which owns NBC and, by extension owns a slice of the XFL, let me just say -
WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU IDIOTS THINKING?
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