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Smile, you're on
the XFL cameras

Special to Page 2

Wiping SPF 40 on my sun-burned mug -- a weekend in sun-splashed Pebble Beach did more than just identify Tiger's slump, Mickelson's fade and D.L. Three's I'm-back 63 on Sunday -- I entered the Den of Fluorescents, the work den, ready for a Monday morning full of sports talk.

XFL cameraman
Armed with a probing lens and a protective helmet, the XFL's cameramen are ready to enter the battlefield.
On the morning commute, I had wondered what my boy Johnny -- you remember him, the shoeshine guy from the old "Police Squad!" episodes -- would have to say about a weekend without Britney at the Super Bowl, but still a weekend as packed with sports as any February will give us.

Which is when I noticed the camera guy.

Standing about five feet from The Water Cooler. Holding a high-tech remote TV camera. Moving in a circle around The Cooler, filming my every move.

"Yo, Zapruder," I said, angry that my domain was being infiltrated by a camera-toting lout. "Where's Johnny?"

"At Club Med in the South Pacific," Camera Dude said, ceaselessly moving around The Cooler, ceaselessly filming. "He cashed in on a Demons-Xtreme bet."

"XFL?" I said. "Oh, wait, don't tell me ..."

"Yeah," Camera Dude said, producing a crumpled piece of paper from his back pocket, still filming, still moving. "He said to give you this. His List of Five from the weekend in sports."

XFL fan
Evidently, the XFL's marketing campaign is working.
I uncrumpled it and let the guy keep filming.

"Yo, Murph," it read. "How do you like the XFL On-Field Camera Guy I rented for the day? Thought you'd get a kick out of him. Had plenty of dough after my inaugural XFL bet came through, and nothing amused me more about this new league than those friggin' lunatics who have the cameras on the field during play. I'm thinking: Yo! My man! Like, get off the damn field! Surreal, bro.

"Anyway, when you read this, think of me being fed grapes by my usual betty at the Fiji Club Med. She once gave Vijay Singh a backrub after he hit balls for, like, 18 hours on the hottest day of the year."

I read on to see this:

Johnny's List of Five From the Weekend:

1. The XFL Debuts
So many reactions, so few shreds of dignity after watching. The cheerleaders? Right out of a Tampa strip club, with accompanying class. Made the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders look like the Women's Christian Temperance Union. But at least the cameras didn't linger too long on the babes. No, only about 5-6 minutes per cut.

The wacky names on the jerseys? Been there, done that when San Francisco Giants shortstop Johnnie LeMaster wore the word "Boo" on his jersey back in '79 at Candlestick.

The halftime cameras in the locker room? Now we know why we like Britney during our intermissions. Those cats had nothing to say. The water polo scrum for the kickoff? Just as we said after the Super Bowl, dude: America: The Most Embarrassing Country in the World.

Given those parameters, the league should be a huge hit.

Jon Gruden
Raiders coach Jon Gruden, right, enjoying the Pro Bowl with his 7-year-old son Jon II, a k a "Deuce," loses his air of toughness when he puts on a Hawaiian shirt.
2. Jon Gruden in a Hawaiian shirt
It's kind of like the Dalai Lama in an XFL jersey, isn't it? I mean, it does not get much more incongruous than the most amped, intense, unrelaxed guy in the world wearing the international symbol for "Garcon! Get me a mai tai!" on the sidelines.

That's the beauty of the Pro Bowl. The only beauty of the Pro Bowl, mind you. I will say I was a little disappointed the Niners' Terrell Owens didn't run through hot lava up Diamond Head to slam the ball on the mountaintop after his TD catch.

3. The World's Three Most Beautiful Words: Golf at Pebble
The only place I'd rather have been was in an XFL cheerleaders' dressing room, bro. My only problem with an otherwise scintillating tourney -- I mean, besides the nutbag who knocked down Tiger, and besides the I-can't-bear-to-watch-it meltdown of Matt Gogel, and besides the very concept of Kenny G -- was not waking up in time to see Davis Love III go birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie, a feat I have not performed since 1983 at a Lake Tahoe mini-golf course.

Well done, Davis. Now, Tiger: Can you win this week at San Diego so we can have a reason to watch the rest of the season? I mean, Calc and D.L Trey are great and all, but ...

4. The NHL All-Star Game
14-12? Hell, man, beats most NBA runs! And is it me, or is Barry Melrose looking more and more like Wolfman Jack?

5. Jimmy Buffett Gets Run
So, the biggest Miami Heat fan in the world uses some bad language at a ref. Ref did not think King Parrothead used the phrase "shaker of salt." Must have thought it was another shaker of some other four-letter word to describe the ref's calls.

I'm amazed, though. Think about it. I mean, Jimmy Buffett actually cares about an NBA game in February?

"Wonders will never cease, Murph. Gotta run. V. McMahon is calling my cell. Something about next week's point spreads.

"Take it light!


Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle is a regular contributor to Page 2.

hit the cooler 

Murphy: XXXV takes on XXXV

Murphy: Bye week blues

Murphy: Super nightmare

Murphy: A little higher learning

Murphy: Party time

Murphy: Toast of the Rockies

Murphy: Kuerten rising

Murphy: Phat weekend

Murphy: A rose is a rose ...

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