Jim Skipper entered the San Francisco Demons locker room last Saturday
evening with his white golf shirt nearly as dry as when he stomped
onto the Citrus Bowl grass hours earlier.
Not that squeezing out a 26-25 win on the Eastern Division champion’s
home field didn’t create a few beads of sweat on the head coach’s
palms. But despite eliminating the favorite to host the Million
Dollar Game in a grueling comeback, Demons players refused to shower
Skipper with the customary barrel of Gatorade.
you … we were gonna win this game, I didn’t want no water on me
or any of that stuff because we’ve got one more game.” Skipper bellowed
to his gathered Demons in the locker room. “We’ve got one more where
we can REALLY let loose!”
The roar that reverberated throughout the locker room made the clear
the Demons’ plan to not just show up at the Los Angeles Coliseum
at 8 p.m. ET Saturday for the XFL’s championship, but to leave with
one million crisp portraits of George Washington in tow.
Only one feared opponent stands in the way of the Demons collection
of a bloated paycheck and it’s not a greedy tax-collecting bastard
at the IRS. Los Angeles’ Xtreme delivered the most humbling of San
Francisco’s defeats this season when the two rumbled for the Western
Division championship just a few weeks ago in the Coliseum. Coach
Al Luginbill’s 8-cylinder offense hasn’t backfired since, rolling
over Chicago 33-16 in Sunday’s playoff.
A tank full of vengeance fueled the Xtreme’s drive to the championship
that night. Way back in the XFL’s first weekend of play, the Demons
christened Pac Bell Park with Mike Panasuk’s desperation three-pointer
at the buzzer to send LA on a sullen trip home.
Although two indelible games and the weight of a million bucks sit
on the motivation button in the players’ brains, bragging rights
eclipse all other inspirations. Each team would love to be the first
to display an XFL championship trophy in their home stadium and
give fans in their respective cities some ammo to razz their counterparts
with. Demons faithful fired up Pac Bell this season and may bring
their horns and pitch forks in an invasion of the Coliseum. Will
LA fans be unwelcome visitors in their own house?
Naturally, Vegas bookies will invest their dollars in Tommy Maddox
and the Xtreme. But those same risk takers are thinner in the back
pocket after watching the Rage wilt under the Demons’ pressure.
Mike Pawlawski undoubtedly will return to fire passes in the biggest
game of his career and Pat Barnes can step in should LA’s Juan Long
makes a hash mark out of the starter.
“This is a hell of
a win,” Skipper boasted in the locker room following his latest
triumph. “Just keep hammering and good things will happen.”
And Skipper will finally get his shower.