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.

 

Baseball built sports foundation for Patrick Mahomes

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After leading Kansas City to five wins this season, there’s no doubt that Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes can throw. But not every NFL quarterback got their start in an MLB dugout.

Mahomes’ father, former MLB pitcher Pat Mahomes, had him on the diamond at Shea Stadium, former home of the New York Mets, in a custom toddler uniform at four years old. Like a typical kid, he ran around and threw some balls. Unlike a typical kid, Mahomes was diving for catches and impressing the pros.

“I started thinking to myself, I said a normal five year old does not do stuff like this,” Pat Mahomes says.

Growing up around professional athletes like A-Rod and Derek Jeter, Mahomes observed and picked up on how they prepared for games.

One such pro was former MLB pitcher Willie Banks. During a game of catch, Banks told Pat that Mahomes would be a quarterback. Pat saw his son’s future in baseball or even basketball. “You know, he’s just messing around with football,” Pat thought.

“And evidently I was wrong.”

Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes finds home in Kansas City

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For a young Patrick Mahomes, a career as an athlete wasn’t a dream. It was the game plan.

Mahomes has had a breakout rookie season as starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. A first round pick in the 2017 NFL draft out of Texas Tech, Mahomes has led Kansas City to five wins with his first NFL loss coming against New England. His dominance as a younger player may have come as a surprise to the NFL world, but his family always knew he was destined to go pro.

A three sport athlete with deep roots in baseball before picking up basketball and football, Mahomes “was very competitive, even as a kid,” his mother, Randi Mahomes, says. “He wanted everything to be a ball. Wherever we were, he was going to try to toss something at you.”

Randi says she hoped he would end up somewhere that “felt like home,” and after leading the Chiefs to five back-to-back wins, she feels like Kansas City has become just that.

“To see your child get to live his dream and to know that he’s happy–that can’t be replaced,” she says.