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Gridiron Gonzo

The XFL: Disgrace to sports or career opportunity?



XFL is not an abbreviation for “Xtreme Football League,” it’s just what it is: XFL. The simplicity is almost Zen-like, and dig this name for the new franchise’s version of the Super Bowl: The Big Game at the End.

Tube Stops
  • Thursday, Feb. 8: Saturday Night Live (NBC, 7:40 p.m.) Special filler: It’s live, it’s 20 minutes long, and KSL has to air it! Ha! But if something naughty happens, be prepared for a very special snipe-hunting edition of Doug Miller’s Outdoors.

  • Friday, Feb. 9: Black Scorpion (Sci-Fi Channel, 9 p.m.) Boob-tacular cheesy action ensues when Scorpy (Michelle Lintell) takes on villains Breathtaker (Adam West) and Phoenix (Victoria Silvstedt). Which one’s wearing the too-snug evil thong? Wouldn’t you like to know.

  • Saturday, Feb. 10: XFL Football: Chicago Enforcers vs. Los Angeles Xtreme (NBC, 6 p.m.) Violence, sex and pigskin: It’s live, it’s three hours long, and KSL has to air it! Kinda funny how big heaping piles of WWF money make moral programming decisions just that much easier, ain’t it? Go, Enforcers!

  • Sunday, Feb. 11: XFL Football: Las Vegas Outlaws vs. Memphis Maniax (UPN, 5 p.m.) More violence, sex and pigskin. In case you can’t make it out through the KPNZ 24 static, that’s not the Spice Channel.

  • Monday, Feb. 12: Movie: These Old Broads (2001, ABC, 7 p.m.) Four aging Hollywood divas (aging Hollywood divas Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins) are dragged out of retirement for a TV reunion. Unfortunately, they let reality impaired La Liz drive the bus to the studio and haven’t been heard from since.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 13: Dark Angel (Fox, 8 p.m.) Max’s buddy, paralyzed do-gooder Logan, begins to regain the feeling in his legs! Angel (The WB, 8 p.m.) Buffy’s buddy, demonized do-gooder Angel, begins to regain the feeling in his hair! It’s a night of miracles!

  • Wednesday, Feb. 14: Barbara Streisand: Timeless (Fox, 7 p.m.) Left out of the filming of These Old Broads, The Barbara belts out her greatest hits in Las Vegas. Then she’s sacked and killed by the defensive line of the Las Vegas Outlaws—yippee!
  • With a full year of focused hype and end-of-sports-as we-know-it concern leading up to last weekend’s debut of the XFL, it almost feels like The Big Game at the End has already happened. Just getting it on the air confounded the naysayers, and there are still 10 weeks to go before one team wins the first XFL championship belt—wait, that’s the parent company, the World Wrestling Federation. There are no belts in the XFL, just lunch money, hot action and hotter cheerleaders. After that limp joke of a Super Bowl two Sundays ago, who could ask for more?

    The XFL, for those who’ve not been following the corporate sports drama, is a brand-new football league jointly owned and operated by the WWF and NBC. The point? “The XFL will be 100 percent competitive sport—the brand of football that hardcore football fans haven’t seen in a long time, and the brand of football that new fans have never seen before,” according to the company public relations guru. “The league will connect with fans by returning football to its roots, including fostering a wide open style of play and faster-paced action while encouraging player individuality to emerge.” Yes, unlike in the sissy-pants NFL, players in the XFL are allowed—hell, encouraged—to get unnecessarily rough, get the funk on with celebratory end-zone dances, and get busy with the aforementioned cheerleaders.

    These are the bones thrown by WWF mastermind Vince McMahon to make up for the meager—by bloated pro-sports standards—salaries of XFL players. Base pay is $45,000 for a 10-game season, but each game has a $100,000 bonus pool to be divided among the winning team. The Big Game at the End’s collective incentive is a cool $1 million. In contrast to the overcompensated NFL and Super Bowl, regular game and Big Game losers get nada.

    Fully behind the XFL’s brand of pay-scale-it-forward thinking, I applied for a job as a PR guru myself on the website. Sayonara, suckers …

    Dear Bill, thank you for applying on-line, and thank you for your interest in the XFL. If you have not heard back from us within 30 days, then we are probably considering other applicants or do not have a position that fits both our needs at this time. However, we welcome you to come back and reapply for other openings as they become available. Make sure you have filled out all the information and kept your contact e-mail address current so that we can notify you when we are looking for candidates like you for new positions. We are an equal opportunity employer. Sincerely, the XFL.

    OK, so I’m not going anywhere—yet. There are eight teams in the XFL (Western Division: Las Vegas Outlaws, Los Angeles Xtreme, Memphis Maniax and San Francisco Demons; Eastern Division: Birmingham Thunderbolts, Chicago Enforcers, New York/New Jersey Hitmen and Orlando Rage). One of ’em is going to need a supremely talented wordsmith like me doing PR sooner or later. I’m not holding my breath for a Salt Lake Spazz expansion team.

    Important note: They don’t need script writers—XFL action isn’t WWF prefabricated. It’s as real as, well, NFL football. Or at least RollerJam, which is as brutal a “sport” as anything I’ve ever seen in “legit” sports programming. You practically need to wear a cup just to watch it.

    Every Saturday night, NBC airs an XFL game with two of these fine teams facing off. Every Sunday, UPN and RollerJam channel TNN do the same. There are cameras and microphones everywhere, including the locker rooms, and the commentators (including bruisers Jesse “The Governor” Ventura, Brian “Don’t Ask Me About Stone Cold” Bosworth and Jerry “Andy Kaufman Made Me” Lawler) are allowed—hell, encouraged—to free-associate whatever nasty thoughts they want about the field action, the players and (there’s a pattern developing) the cheerleaders.

    “The XFL has cheerleaders and isn’t afraid to let people know it,” says PR man, unaware that there’s a hotshot who just applied on the Net gunning for him. “Indeed, XFL cheerleaders will play an integral role at games, both live and on television, and fans will get to know their names and personalities.”

    Yeah, because the first thing that XFL revelers parked in front of the tube watching half-dressed women bustin’ moves like understudies from The Replacements and Coyote Ugly are thinking is, “Hmm, I wonder what her name is and what she likes … more brie, anyone?”