This past Wednesday marked the final basketball game at Shenandoah University’s Shingleton Gym, the cozy confines of the Hornets for 49 years. The perfect script would have had the Hornet men closing up the ol’ gym with a win over Bridgewater, but as we know, Hollywood endings don’t always happen in sports. Shenandoah came out of the blocks with a 14-1 start, there was lots of energy in the gym, but the Eagles slowly chipped away at a 19-point SU lead and eventually won 68-65. Such is life…such is sports. Now a new era begins, as the teams move in to the new Wilkins center on Wednesday. I can’t wait!
If you absolutely need a “football fix” this weekend, you’ll have to settle for the NFL Pro Bowl instead. The annual vacation for the league’s top players is nothing more than, as the late NFL great Sonny Randle used to say, a pillow fight. No one wants to get hurt in the Pro Bowl, so you’ll see quarterbacks untouched, receivers running free, and a score that resembles a typical Saturday in the Big 12.
On to this week’s topic. A story yesterday that took on a life of it’s own as the day was the WWE’s Vince McMahon announcing the return of the XFL. In case you don’t remember, the XFL was Vince’s failed experiment in 2001, as he tried to give America a brand of football with a pro-wrestling attitude. The games featured announcers like Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and instead of a coin toss there was an opening “scramble” , where opposing captains tried to gain possession of a football placed at the 50 yard line. (One player was hurt during the opening scramble and lost for the season).
The XFL failed for a variety of reasons, the main one being bad product. The XFL was thrown together, teams were hastily assembled and had little practice time. There was no TV contract in place (NBC’s Dick Ebersol would come to the rescue eventually), rules were changed in mid-season, and there were few “stars”, unless you count Rod Smart, who had “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey. Mainly, the XFL was just bad football.
This time McMahon’s “XFL 2.0” is not affiliated with the WWE, but instead with Vince’s Alpha Entertainment, and he promises a more “family friendly” brand of football. Some of the features of the 8-team XFL will be 2-hour game times, no on-field forums for social issues, a 10-game season beginning in January of 2020, and no player with a criminal record will be allowed to play in the new league.
Which may be a problem for Johnny Manziel , the former Heisman Trophy winner, who has a DUI on his record. He, along with Tim Tebow, and Colin Kaepernick, could add instant credibility to the new version of the XFL, so we’ll see if Vince stands by the “no criminal record” rule.
It remains to be seen if the 2020 version of the XFL is successful. Will we have had enough football in January after a long NFL season? Do the declining ratings and the National Anthem backlash create a fertile environment for a new league? Will the XFL feature some recognizable stars and give us a watchable brand of football? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure…
It’s gotta be better than the Pro Bowl.
That’s it from The Booth! Enjoy your break from football this weekend, and GO HORNETS!