Do you remember the XFL? Presumably standing for the Xtreme Football League, it was a conception of World Wrestling Entertainment owned by Vince McMahon in partnership with NBC. It existed from 2001 to…well, to 2001, lasting just one season before its doors were shuttered.
But it obviously left a lasting impression, one that exists to this day. Which is why McMahon announced yesterday that it would be returning.
The league consisted of eight teams divided by two divisions, which included the Los Angeles Xtreme and the Orlando Rage, the two teams that competed for the league’s one and only championship, won by the Xtreme.
And the most valuable player of that game? Tommy Maddox, the winning quarterback. Maddox was, of course, an NFL player prior to joining to NFL, but his experience in that league led him to another opportunity at the highest level of the sport.
Originally a first-round draft pick in 1992 by the Denver Broncos, he had already played for four different teams by 1997 before failing to make the roster, and eventually turned to the Arena League before joining the Xtreme in the XFL for the inaugural season.
Maddox completed 196 of 342 pass attempts for the Xtreme that season for 2186 yards and 18 touchdowns, leading the league in each of those categories. He parlayed that success into a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, giving birth to the ‘Tommy Gun’ offense.
Between the 2002 and 2003 seasons, Maddox played in 31 games, starting 27. He completed 532 of 896 pass attempts for 6250 yards with 38 touchdowns, but also 33 interceptions. He was named the Comeback Player of the Year, however, when he returned, and remained with the team through 2005.
McMahon announced yesterday that the goal is to bring the league back in 2020, saying, “we’re going to give the game of football back to fans”. He took a approach of humility that belied the arrogance and resistance that led to the league’s initial demise.
“We’re going to ask a lot of questions, and listen, to players, coaches, we’re going to listen to medical experts, technology executives, members of the media, and anybody who understands and loves the game of football. But most importantly we’re going to listen to fans”.
He asked questions in the statement, hoping to bring a game that is “fan-centric, with all of the things that you like to see and less of the things that you don’t”. family-friendly, faster-paced, simpler rules, all that good stuff. “Professional football reimagined”.
McMahon announced that the plans is to restart “conservatively”, with eight teams, as they original had, with 40-man rosters, a 10-game regular season, and a postseason with two semi-finals and the championship round.
Aside from Maddox, there were several other players who ended up being given a shot in the NFL, the most notable being Rod “He Hate Me” Smart. He played a minor role for five years. Corey Ivy was another player who ended up briefly with the Steelers. More ended up having success in the CFL.