Tampa Bay Vipers Defender Mandato

Spring Football Leagues 1999-2001

The return of outdoor 11-on-11 Spring Football Leagues to USA after a break of seven years if the World League of American Football (1991 to 1992 with USA teams) is to be included, or 14 years since the demise of the United States Football League after the 1985 season, was met with mixed reactions.

The first such league after the WLAF to succeed in playing a down, was the Regional Football League, playing a single season in 1999 with five teams in Southern USA and one in Ohio in the Midwestern USA.

After the RFL of 1999 the Spring Football League of 2000 was founded by three high profile former National Football League (NFL) players. The SFL planned on being a four-team, four-week season with a Championship Game, to test the waters for a full season the following year. The SFL only lasted two weeks as the announcement of the XFL by the owner of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in conjunction with the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), which had lost its’ contract to show NFL games, put and end to the league in its’ infancy.

The XFL itself was the first Major Outdoor 11-on-11 Football League with a big budget to rival the NFL since the United States Football League of 1983 to 1985 – the first ever Outdoor Spring League. The XFL was launched in a blaze of publicity but ended with a whimper in the ‘Million Dollar Game’ as TV Ratings fell week on week after a big first week.

Regional Football League 1999

RFL Standings 1999

Regional Football League 1999PWLTPFPAPct
*Mobile Admirals862017798.750
*Houston Outlaws862014882.750
*Mississippi Pride8440148177.500
*Ohio Cannon8350114121.375
Shreveport Southern Knights8350128121.375
New Orleans Thunder826082198.250
Totals4824240797797.500
Regional Football League Standings 1999 [Ref: RFL-1]

*Qualify for Playoffs

RFL Playoff Results 1999

RFL 1999Home TeamScoreRoad TeamScore
DatePlayoffs 1st RoundRFL Playoffs 1999
12.06.1999Mobile Admirals35Ohio Cannon14
12.06.1999Houston outlaws27Mississippi Pride3
RFL Bowl I
19.06.1999Mobile Admirals14Houston Outlaws12
Totals7833
Regional Football League Playoffs 1999 [Ref: RFL-2]

Spring Football League 2000

SFL Final Standings 2000

Spring Football League 2000PWLTPFPAPct
*Houston Marshals220056231.000
*San Antonio Matadors220042161.000
Los Angeles Dragons20202137.000
Miami Tropics20201861.000
Totals8440137137.500
Spring Football League Standings 2000 [Reference: SFL-2]

Note: *Last two weeks of four-game regular season as well as planned Championship Game were scrapped and Houston Marshals and San Antonio Matadors, both unbeaten on 2-0 were declared Co-Champions.

XFL 2001

XFL Standings 2001

XFL 2001PWLTPFPAPct
Eastern Division       
*Orlando Rage10820203185.800
*Chicago Enforcers10550186179.500
New York / New Jersey Hitmen10460132145.400
Birmingham Thunderbolts10280136239.200
Western Division       
*Los Angeles Xtreme10730235166.700
*San Francisco Demons10550156161.500
Memphis Maniax10550167166.500
Las Vegas Outlaws10460169143.400
Totals804040013841384.500
XFL 2001 Standings Reference: [XFL-1]

XFL Playoff Results 2001

XFL 2001Home TeamScoreRoad TeamScore
 DateSemi-Finals  XFL Playoffs 2001 
 07.04.2001Orlando Rage25San Francisco Demons26
08.04.2001 Los Angeles Xtreme33Chicago Enforcers16
 XFL Championship Million Dollar Game  
21.04.2001 Los Angeles Xtreme24San Francisco Demons26
Totals8268
XFL 2001 Playoffs [References: XFL-1]

Regional Football League 1999

The Regional Football League styled itself as the Spring Development League of America (NFL Europe was the Official Development League of the NFL with 6 teams in Europe only). It had 5 teams placed in the Southern United States and one in Toledo, Ohio.

The Mobile Admirals (Alabama) won the Championship in the League’s only season, defeating Houston Outlaws 14-12. One team, the Ohio Cannon only played in seven regular season matches, but were still allowed to compete in the Playoffs as the Shrevport Southern Knights, their only rival for the fourth playoff sport forfeited their last match with the Cannon..

Other teams were Shreveport Southern Knights, New Orleans Thunder and Mississippi Pride. The League had no TV coverage, no outstanding players and little press or radio coverage. [Ref: RFL-3] The International Football League of 2000 replaced it as the AAA Spring League in the USA.

Spring Football League 2000

The Spring Football League of 2000 was founded by Ex-NFL players Eric Dickerson (Los Angeles Rams), Bo Jackson (Los Angeles Raiders) Tony Dorsett (Dallas Cowboys) among others. It set a 4-team 4-game schedule for its first season in 2000, to test the waters for a full League and Schedule for 2001.

The first season, dubbed “Festival 2000” only lasted 2 of the 4 game weeks, and the planned Championship Game was scrapped, with the Houston Marshals and San Antonio Matdors, both unbeaten on 2-0 records, declared Co-Champions. The demise of the League was due to the founding of the XFL by the WWF – World Wide Wrestling (now WWE) owners, and the low attendances, more like Junior High School Games than a AAA Pro League.

XFL 2001

Los Angeles Xtreme won the XFL Championship Game – the Million Dollar Game – in 2001, triumphing 38-6 over San Francisco Demons. There were eight teams in the inaugural season of the XFL, five of them in cities without NFL teams: Los Angeles Xtreme, Birmingham Bolts, Orlando Rage, Memphis Maniax and Las Vegas Outlaws.

The XFL of 2001 was the brainchild of Vince McMahon of the World Wrestling Entertainment, who was refused a license to buy a Canadian Football League team, and instead decided to bankroll his own league. He gained a Television contract with NBC which had lost the rights to show the NFL, and initially, amid much hype the first weeks rating were good, but slid rapidly before the league went out of existence after one season.

The reasons given for this were numerous – there was too much variation on standard Football Rules, the team names were too violent, referencing either criminality or extreme mental states. The cheerleaders were too much like strippers rather compared with the NFL’s cheerleaders. The League was intended to give fans back Hard Working Class Football as had been seen to have disappeared from the NFL, but the XFL was seen as being too hard, more criminally insane than Working Class, according to First Down, a British American Football Newspaper.

Following the demise of the XFL in 2001 the Spring Football schedule consisted of the National Football League Europe League with six teams in the Old Continent, the Women’s Professional Football League (founded 2000), the National Women’s Football Association (founded 2004) and the Independent Women’s Football League (founded 2004 also), as well as the Arena Football League (an Indoor 8v8 Football League on a 50-yard field with two 8 yard-end zones).

This remained the situation in Alternative Spring Professional Gridiron Football Leagues until 2007 when NFL-EL folded and 2009 when big changes happened: the United Football League was founded, and Women’s Football was transformed with the start of the Lingerie Football League (a 7v7 Indoor League), and the replacement of the NWFA and WPFL with the Women’s Football Association – a rival Major Women’s League to the IWFL.

The XFL itself would not return until 2020 with version 2.0 and the small-scale Spring Football Leagues returned in 2011 with the Stars Football League.

Picture Credit: XFL- 2/9/20-MetLife Stadium East Rutherford,NJ- Tampa Bay Vipers Defender Mandato. By Christopher Lyzcen[Shutterstock]

The above photograph is from a XFL 2.0 match-up between the Tampa Bay Vipers and New York Guardians at the Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey in 2020.

Regional Football League 1999 References

Websites

[RFL-1] Remember the RFL (2014) Standings [Internet] Available from: https://sites.google.com/site/remembertherfl/standings [Accessed 18 June 2020]

[RFL-2] Remember the RFL (2014) Weekly Results [Internet] Available from: https://sites.google.com/site/remembertherfl/weekly-results [Accessed 4 April 2019]

[RFL-3] Remember the RFL (2014) Remember the RFL Home [Internet] Available from: https://sites.google.com/site/remembertherfl/home [Accessed 4 April 2019]

Spring Football League 2000 References

Websites

[SFL-1] Remember the SFL (2019) History [Internet] Available from: https://sites.google.com/site/rememberthesfl/history [Accessed 31 December 2019]

[SFL-2] Remember the SFL (2019) Standings [Internet] Available from: https://sites.google.com/site/rememberthesfl/standings [Accessed 31 December 2019]

XFL 2001 References

Websites

[XFL-2] Remember the XFL (2017) XFL Final Standings [Internet] Available from: http://sites.google.com/site/rememberthexfl/standings [Accessed 3 February 2017]

[XFL-3] Remember the XFL (2017) Weekly Results [Internet] Available from: http://sites.google.com/site/rememberthexfl/weekly-results [Accessed 31 December 2019]

Newspapers

[XFL-4] First Down (2001) February to April 2001.

Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American & World Sports Archive 2024

First Published: 9 July 2024. Last Updated: 9 July 2024

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2024

You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Reserved. The Logos and Photos used in this article remain the property of the organisations and individuals which own the copyright and are used here for educational and information purposes only.

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