XFL Press Release: June 20, 2000 - X-ZONE



June 20, 2000

Southmen, Pharaohs, Showboats and the XFL! 

When I first heard the XFL was heading down to Memphis, I got excited. Mostly because I’m a huge fan of the city. Great BBQ. Great Beer. Ducks that are a tourist attraction. And more Elvis than Vegas. I wouldn’t have thought this before I visited, but Graceland is something everyone has to see once in their life.

But on a more important level, the XFL going to Memphis is great for the city because it deserves another chance at football. It’s a city that some feel has been given the shaft by the NFL. As evidenced by the fact that they consistently drew 25,000 - 30,000 to the Liberty Bowl for USFL and World Football League games – there’s a loyal football fan base in Memphis.

It isn’t talked about too often, but aside from the Pharaohs of the Arena Football League setting the record for most consecutive losses (17, which still stands today), Memphis has a good history with the sport.

The Southmen (Grizzlies) of the WFL and the USFL’s Showboats are the city’s two big claims to professional football up to this point. While neither of these leagues lasted too long, Memphis can not be held responsible. Both drew heavy crowds at the Liberty Bowl, had big stars to promote and fielded successful teams.

A guy named Reggie White led the Showboats on defense. We all know what a dominating career Reggie went on to have in the NFL, and he was no less accomplished in the USFL. He recorded 23.5 sacks over his two years in Memphis and led the team to the league semifinals in 1985.

While no other teams in the WFL could boast of any real stars, Southmen owner John Bassett signed three Miami Dolphins – Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield – to contracts for the 1975 season. Despite a dominating 17-3 record in their initial season, it appeared the Southmen were going to improve thanks to their talented trio of Miami Dolphins. Although the second season never fully played out, Csonka, Kiick and Warfield eventually landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated in Memphis uniforms – undoubtedly the league’s finest moment.

Even though the Southmen had one of the weirdest logos in professional sports, they garnered a great deal of attention in their home city. So much so that on July 10, 1974, Elvis Presley made his way to the Liberty Bowl for a game against Detroit! He hasn’t yet requested XFL tickets, but we’re not ruling out an Elvis sighting for next year.

And let’s not forget about the annual AXA Liberty Bowl. The college football classic is held in the stadium named for it and has attracted some of the biggest names in the game over the years. Bear Bryant coached his first bowl game there as well as his last game ever. Joe Paterno, Lou Holtz and Tom Osbourne also coached in the game. Bo Jackson, Shaun King, Ricky Bell, Randy White and Doug Flutie competed in it.

The city of Memphis offers a number of positives that are crucial to building a successful and long-lasting franchise – great facilities, interesting history, loyal fans. It seems that as long as we stay away from the Memphis Presleys, Houndogs, or Kings we should be okay.


Part of the

Network, Dedicated To All Fans of the XFL