Mehno: XFL sounds like terrible idea … again
PITTSBURGH — Vince McMahon is talking about bringing back the XFL.
McMahon has millions from his World Wrestling Entertainment business, which gives him plenty of money to blow on a bad idea like an NFL alterative that would run in the spring and early summer.
There may be an appetite for an extra football season, but McMahon isn’t the person who knows how to fill it.
The XFL first appeared in 2001 and folded after one disastrous season. NBC bought into the league, believing McMahon could repeat the magic he’d found with taking pro wrestling mainstream. NBC was wrong.
The XFL never recovered from a bad start, and its TV ratings were barely measurable.
Now McMahon says he wants to bring the XFL back, with a projected eight-team launch in 2020.
It will probably never happen, but who knows?
The first time around, McMahon promised to ratchet up the sex and violence. Cheerleaders were given skimpy outfits at least a size too small. The XFL looked for a way to put the mayhem back in kickoffs, and ridiculed NFL measures aimed at player safety.
McMahon promised to take the cameras into the locker rooms to see what the coaches were saying to their teams at halftime.
This time, McMahon is headed in the opposite direction, promising no gimmicks. He said the league won’t employ anyone with a criminal record, which would crimp an already-limited talent pool. Halftime won’t exist, as McMahon tries to streamline the games into a two-hour window.
And, oh say can you agree, McMahon will demand that players stand for the national anthem.
He wasn’t feeling nearly as patriotic in 1991, when he had one of his wrestling characters, former Marine Sgt. Slaughter, portray a turncoat Iraqi sympathizer during the Gulf War. According to Slaughter (real name: Bob Remus), one of McMahon’s ideas was to have him burn the American flag.
The 2001 failure of XFL was spectacular. It is held up as a business blunder on a par with New Coke and the Edsel.
It could be that McMahon is trying to purge the scepter of that disaster in his twilight years.
Or it could just be another really bad idea.
Could Pittsburgh be one the cities that gets an XFL team?
It’s a good pro football market, but it’s hard to imagine the Steelers being pleased with an upstart league using Heinz Field.
When the USFL Maulers operated for one season in 1984, the Steelers stats crew thought they’d pick up some extra money working for the new guys. When the NFL season rolled around, they discovered they had all been fired by the Steelers.
Go to the replay
Speaking of odd ideas, Pirates broadcasters Greg Brown, Bob Walk and John Wehner will gather tonight for a condensed viewing of Game 7 of the 1992 National League playoffs.
In case you’ve forgotten, that was the game in Atlanta where the Pirates took a two-run lead into the ninth inning and lost. It’s kind of a blur after all these years, but think Francisco Cabrera/Barry Bonds/Sid Bream and maybe some of it will come back to you. (Sorry).
Who wants to see this again? The presentation was the idea of the owner of the McKees Rocks theater that is hosting the $100 per ticket event. It comes with “gourmet” ballpark food, a question-and-answer session and autograph and photo opportunities.
Here’s a possible question: Why would any Pirates fan pay a hundred bucks to relive this agony?
Hey, if it sells, there are other playoff failures that can be revisited, too.
Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org