A Brief History of the XFL

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As we near the biggest football game of the year, we are reminded of one of the sports’ most memorable experiments.

Vince McMahon, the owner of World Wrestling Entertainment, helped found the XFL in 2001 with a vision of fusing his brand into football. The league split its eight teams into two divisions and held a 10-game schedule with no bye weeks. The Los Angeles Xtreme won the lone XFL Championship in a 38-6 thrashing of the San Francisco Demons at the L.A. Coliseum.

The XFL created some rule changes to deviate from the NFL. Instead of a coin toss, the XFL had an “opening scramble.” Players from opposing teams raced from their end zones to the ball at the 50-yard line, and whichever player came away with it got to choose whether his team got possession. The league also allowed bump-and-run coverage and took away fair catches with the intent of spicing the game up. Players also got to choose what name appeared on the back of their jersey, allowing some players to place nicknames and mantras instead of their last name.

Some players were pleasantly surprised with the quality of play in the league, but the XFL ultimately crumbled after just one season. The league was a financial failure and all sides abandoned hopes of a second season.

 

The 49ers are making players do ladder drills up an insane man-made hill

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Running sucks. Running hills suck more. But running ladder drills up a 35-foot man-made hill sounds like torture.

Correction: It is torture, the 49ers are making their players do it, and we can confirm:

“The Hill,” which is 60 feet long and has a 30-degree incline, was installed by strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright and looks every bit as painful as it sounds. Earlier this week, the 49ers made players who did not participate in team drills run the ladder on the ramp.

This hill is significantly larger than the hill that existed on the practice field in 2009 during Mike Singletary’s tenure as head coach, which looks like a small mound of grass compared to the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the right:

There’s no doubt the reviews for Shanahan Hill won’t be positive, but nevertheless, owner Jed York took a turn up the monster. And if the boss is doing it, you better not complain.

O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing draws ‘hundreds of letters’ regarding case

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O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing in Nevada on Thursday drew nationwide attention, and the Board of Parole Commissioners demonstrated that by showing the “hundreds of letters of support and opposition” for Simpson.

The commissioner noted that a majority of the opposition letters asked the board to consider Simpson’s 1995 acquittal in the murder case of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman and the subsequent civil case that ordered Simpson to pay $25 million to the victims’ families. But the letters were not considered in the case, in which the board paroled the former football star after he was sentenced to nine years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping in 2007 when he attempted to retrieve memorabilia that he claimed belonged to him.

The commissioner displayed what appeared to be five stacks of letters and said that the board “always encourages public opinion.” The parole hearing received widespread public attention, broadcast live nationally and drawing hundreds of reporters.

Simpson could be released as early as October.