By ALAN SNEL
I remember the first time.
I remember canning XFL 1.0 back in 2001 for our FOXSports.com sports-business website.
And I’m back to bury the XFL 2.0 again.
Is there any better metaphor for the fate of this doomed football enterprise than Vince McMahon calling on ESPN sports-business reporter Darren Rovell during a teleconference call and calling Rovell, “Dan.”
Darren is kinda like Dan in the same way that the a real professional football league is kinda like the XFL.
Darren and Dan both begin with a D and an A and the NFL and the XFL (supposedly in 2020) both play with a football.
But not quite the same thing.
Rovell is a fellow sports-business reporter and he knows an ideal marketing opportunity when he sees one. Rovell had some fun with the Darren-Dan mishap by changing his name to Dan on his Twitter handle.
I was there in the ESPN Zone restaurant in Times Square back in 2001 (the restaurant closed in 2010) when McMahon touted the XFL as a football league that would put the fun back in big-time pro football and put entertainment back on the gridiron. The team from New York/New Jersey was called the “Hitmen.” (The Hitmen played the Las Vegas Outlaws, including Rod “He Hate Me” Smith, in the first nationally televised XFL game on NBC at good ol’ Sam Boyd Stadium.) The XFL lasted a year.
The shtick didn’t have to last long before I realized the XFL was going to be a watered-down version of minor league football at best.
This time around, an older McMahon appeared to offer a more serious football league during the teleconference call, with less of a focus on violence, cheerleaders and gimmicks such as nicknames on the back of player jerseys. He doesn’t have a broadcast deal and told Rovell he’s solely funding the league with what is expected to be $100 million of his own money.
McMahon is a brilliant entertainment marketer with WWE. But his eight-team, 10-game schedule football league in 2020 will fail again and I’m sure Dan Rovell will be there to report that news item in two years.
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