Am I the only one who remembers Rod Smart, AKA, Hehateme?

How about no fair catches? Well, Smart was a running back with the Las Vegas Outlaws in 2001 and that rule was a big part of the initial marketing campaign when Vince McMahon launched the XFL. Because the league allowed players to put nicknames on the back of their jerseys and the Outlaws played in the league's first televised game on NBC, which featured twice the ratings of any subsequent broadcast, a star was born, of sorts. If nothing else people really did learn to love to hate that league.

No fair catch just ended up turning into catch the ball and fall down. Nobody stood in for that hit, and since it was the coaches that came up with that strategy, and McMahon owned every team, that meant it was his own people who thwarted his master design. The pay wasn't enough to entice National Football League talent of almost any kind to participate. That meant the XFL had to create its own stars.

Okay, Tommy Maddox was there and he tore it up, but, like I said, almost.

Now, according to XFL.com, the league is "kicking off" in Feb., 2020, with eight teams. This includes southern cities Tampa Bay, Houston and Dallas, West Coast spots Los Angeles and Seattle, East Coast locations New York and Washington D.C. and the lone Midwest representative is St. Louis.

The site really has more general information than anything else, but one things it does says is that Cincinnati Bengals 16-year Tight Ends Coach Jonathan Hayes was named Head Coach and General Manager of the XFL St. Louis squad. His Biography on the league website states he also served in the same position, in addition to also performing the duties of the Special Teams Coordinator, at the University of Oklahoma from 1999-02 under Bob Stoops and won a National Title in 2000.

One thing that stands out is that while every team has a head coach, none have a roster or staff. Nor do they have uniforms, gear for sale or any kind of logo or mascot, even though they'll tell you in oversized font where to watch their games eight months from now.

I went to that very first XFL game in Las Vegas against the NY/NJ Hitmen on Feb 3, 2001, and it felt like a World Wrestling Entertainment production. It was played where the University of Nevada-Las Vegas plays their football games. That's a basketball school and, at least at the time, their gridiron facilities reflected exactly that.

Eventually, just a couple years ago, I saw on that HULU documentary series about mascots that there's a draped off area underneath the stands on the sideline people use to go to the bathroom during events. I wish I didn't know that. But, even if the field is sometimes treated like a restroom the sky that night was lit up with an aggressive fireworks display with music to match. McMahon addressed the crowd like it was Wrestlemania and then introduced the first act, former Chicago Bear Dick Butkis.

Then, once the crowd was sufficiently stirred to McMahon's satisfaction via dramatic pause, he built them up once again by way of his best carnival-barker's cry and, even though everyone knew who was coming by now, this cagey old man paused yet again before screaming to introduce, "THE ROCK!"

Just like the XFL it was all hype and little payoff because what followed was a whole lot of generic wrestling chatter by Dwayne followed by his by catch phrase of the time, "Can you smell.....what The Rock...is cooking?"

Here's what I smell; If St. Louis doesn't sign enough players from the state of Missouri then play quality football nobody will drive to the dome to see them play.