XFL plan to snag young players gets criticized

Enforcers snap four game skid

Posted: Monday, March 05, 2001

CHICAGO -- LeShon Johnson scored on a 2-yard run with 19 seconds left as the Chicago Enforcers beat the Las Vegas Outlaws 15-13 Sunday night, snapping a four-game losing streak.

Mark Grieb found Yo Murphy with touchdown passes of 19 and 7 yards in the first half for Las Vegas (3-2), but the Outlaws were held scoreless in the final two quarters.

Orlando 21, Memphis 19

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Backup quarterback Brian Kuklick threw for 207 yards and a touchdown, and Jay Taylor kicked a go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter to lead the Orlando Rage to a 21-19 victory over the Memphis Maniax on Sunday night.

The victory left the Rage (5-0) as the XFL's only undefeated team, while Memphis (2-3) has lost all three of its home games.

By the Associated Press

NEW YORK -- A plan to have the XFL sign some players directly out of high school was criticized Sunday by the head of the American Football Coaches Association.

The new league has said it might target players who have not qualified academically for college. But Grant Teaff, a former coach at Baylor and now AFCA executive director, said Sunday that the policy might hurt even those players and that his organization would do everything it could to oppose it.

''Well, they might take youngsters that didn't qualify for a scholarship because of academics,'' he said. ''If they were to do that it would have a very negative effect on the youngsters' ability to regain that opportunity.

''Today, he could lay out of school, retake a test and then come back in under the NCAA rules, play two years in junior college and graduate, then enter and get an education.''

Michael Keller, the XFL's vice president for football operations, expressed surprise over the AFCA's position, saying he had worked with the coaches' group in an attempt to reach an understanding on the signing of players. Keller said he can understand fear that agents would might try to influence players to pass up college, but did not see that as a factor in possible XFL plans.

''The agents are out there all the time,'' Keller said. ''We're not talking about kids out of college who cannot qualify. I'm talking about young men who have basically failed to matriculate toward college.''

The XFL, suffering from plummeting TV ratings, might go to the new eligibility rules next year. The plan was first reported in Sunday's New York Times.

Teaff said he was not concerned about youngsters who would never get into college. Rather, he said, the worry was over those who could qualify but believe trying is not worth passing up an opportunity to play pro football. He said there are many ex-NFL players or those aspiring to be in the NFL who are close to their degrees but are finished with their college eligibility.

''Our feelings would be that the XFL should use the same rules that the NFL uses,'' Teaff said. ''Otherwise, we will have an awful lot of problems in the days or months or however long ahead.''

Keller said the plan calls for a player to become eligible one year after his high school class graduates or when he becomes 19 years old. Players also would go through a screening process, he said. The NFL will not sign a player less than three years removed from high school, a policy Keller believes is no hardship to that league. The struggling XFL is not in a position to ignore top talent.

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