XFL Redux-Vinnie’s Back
A few days ago my old friend Ron called me from Houston to wish Christmas pleasantries and salutations to me and mine which I, of course, returned to him and his. We weren't on the phone five minutes when the subject of football came up.
Throughout his life, Ron has worked in the marketing and merchandising field with several sports teams and was with the professional team from Houston for a number of years before it skedaddled to Tennesee. He asked me if I'd been watching much this season as he hadn't watched any pro football games at all.
No, not too much at all I said. And it's got nothing to do with this flag and kneeling business but with my lack of enthusiasm for the game itself. Full on agreement from the other end of the phone. Ron said the league has become such a marketing and merch monster that it seems they forgot what the fans come to watch the games for.
And they go for the same reason, some people slow down to study a car wreck on the road. To see the blood and mayhem.
Football as such is a milder form of Rugby which is a much milder form of athletic entertainment that reaches in stages all the way back to the bloody soil on the floor of the Roman Coliseum. Humans are so far the only species ever to inhabit earth that will pay money to see others of their kind potentially injured, maimed or killed.
The NFL over the past two decades in order to make the sport safer and have a broader audience appeal instituted a series of rules limiting bone crushing crackback blocks. They took the head slap out of the game so that now defensive linemen no longer wear thickly padded hand and arm pads so they can deliver a molar-shattering blow to the offensive lineman's jawline. Now defensive linemen wear golfers gloves, mostly to help protect their manicures, and they now rely on great footspeed to wreak havoc on the offense instead of hydraulic brute muscle power delivered at high RPM.
Spectators like action. Dangerous action such as at a motor speedway, a hockey game or as seen during a great heavyweight boxing match. And the NFL has steadily watered down the action for two decades, for many this year's National Anthem flap was simply the last reason they needed to stay away from the stadiums and the televisions.
Enter or that should be: re-enter Vince MacMahon.
The 'Jerry Jones of Pro Wrestling' thinks it may be time for his short-lived XFL to make a return. The XFL was a wild free-for-all on many levels. From the dash for the football at midfield by two opposing players (instead of a boring coin-toss) for initial ball possession, the XFL game was all about heavy duty action. And the league put us viewers into the middle of it all with some of the first in-depth use of the now ubiquitous Sky-Cam to put us in the middle of the huddle and down on the field.
Pro football leagues have come and gone over the years, none ever breaking the deep toe-hold the NFL had in America. But now could be the perfect time to give the fans and the players too (they don't like extreme limits to the game either) what they want. The game of helmet to helmet, full speed colliding, spitting, cursing, fighting and everything else that football used to be.
Vince MacMahon for his part has declared he 'may' announce on January 25th, 2017 that he might be bringing back the XFL. I'd watch that, I think Ron would too.