ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Orlando's Hassan Shamsid-Deen was knocked out before the game even started as the XFL quickly proved it is far removed from any football league seen before.
The league owned by NBC-TV and the World Wrestling Federation got off to a ragged, yet successful start Saturday night as the Rage beat Chicago 33-29 before a crowd of 35,603.
It looked like any other football game during the hours before the XFL began its inaugural season, with tailgate parties, ticket scalpers and traffic jams outside the Citrus Bowl.
But from the opening sprint for the ball --where two players run
20 yards then fight it out for the pigskin instead of the
traditional coin toss -- it was clear that the sport had taken a
turn for the extreme.
For the record, the Enforcers won the dash and elected to receive. Shamsid-Deen not only suffered the embarrassment of losing badly to Chicago's Troy Saunders, but also separated his left shoulder in the scrum.
"I think that was a concern we had all along, but it was something they (the league) wanted to look at," Orlando coach Galen Hall said of Shamsid-Deen's injury. "Hopefully, they'll look at it again, and something can be done."
Chicago coach Ron Meyer refused to say whether he favored the rule, instead expressing sympathy for Hall's plight of losing a player before the game had even started.
"I looked across the field and apologized to Galen, but there's really nothing you can do," Meyer said. "I feel bad for him, when you're playing with limited numbers."
The Rage wasted no time giving the crowd something to cheer,
scoring on their first play from scrimmage. Orlando lined up in a
double-tight end formation on its own 49, then sent receiver Kevin
Swayne deep on a post pattern, where Jeff Brohm found him in stride
for the XFL's first touchdown.
Brohm completed 14 of 22 passes for four touchdowns and 217
yards. The Enforcers were led by running back John Avery, who had
250 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
The quality of football was spotty, with 17 penalties slowing the pace.
Also, the fans were largely ignored during the game, other than
repeated shots of the cheerleaders on a video screen.
But the fans didn't seem to mind the league's rough beginning.
"It's been excellent," said Will Fowler of Orlando. "I didn't really know what to expect, but there hasn't been anything disappointing. I like it. The cheerleaders, everything."
|Rich Young slipped past Chicago Kerry Cooks for a second-quarter Rage touchdown.|
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