Manage episode 335829573 series 3293078
The Million Dollar Game was the XFL's championship game at the end of its only season in 2001. At first it had no special name, then was going to be called "The Big Game at the End," but eventually received the name it ended up with because a pot of one million dollars was to be split among the players of the winning team. The game was played on Saturday April 21, 2001 at the LA Memorial Coliseum. The game was between the Western Division champion Los Angeles Xtreme and the western runner-up San Francisco Demons. The Xtreme defeated the Eastern Division runner-up Chicago Enforcers 33-16 in the first round while the Demons beat east champs Orlando Rage 26-25. Orlando had finished the 10-game regular season with the XFL's best record, 8-2. Los Angeles was 7-3 while both Chicago and San Francisco each finished 5-5 (Making Orlando and L.A. the only two of the eight teams to finish with winning records in the regular season; the Memphis Maniax were also 5-5 but San Francisco won the playoff berth on a tie-breaker).
The Xtreme, led by regular-season Most Valuable Player Tommy Maddox, won the Million Dollar Game 38-6. The game's MVP was Xtreme kicker Jose Cortez, which was ironic considering the reduced role a kicker had in the XFL, which did not have a point after touchdown (extra point) kick in its rules and also paid kickers the least per game on its salary scale. After each had been released by National Football League teams earlier in their professional careers, both Maddox and Cortez eventually found themselves back in the NFL. Maddox signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2001. He replaced Kordell Stewart in the 2002 season and led the Steelers into the playoffs. That performance earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors. Maddox lost his starting job to Ben Roethlisberger in 2005, and was released in 2006, however still became the first former XFL player to be a part of a Super Bowl champion after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL over the Seattle Seahawks.
Cortez, however, has not enjoyed the degree of success Maddox has. Although he scored over 100 points in the 2001 and 2002 NFL seasons, he has mostly been a journeyman, called in to fill in for a team's injured kicker (For this reason, he played for four teams in 2005). The XFL paid standardized player salaries. Quarterbacks earned US$5,000 per week, kickers earned $3,500, and all other uniformed players earned $4,500 per week, though a few players got around these restrictions (Los Angeles Xtreme players Noel Prefontaine, the league's lone punting specialist, and Matt Malloy, a wide receiver) by having themselves listed as backup quarterbacks. Players on a winning team received a bonus of $2,500 for the week, $7,500 for winning a playoff game. The team that won the championship game split $1,000,000 (roughly $25,000 per player). Furthermore, players did not receive any fringe benefits, meaning players had to pay for their own health insurance.