XFL Down For The Count

NEW YORK — Even Vince McMahon’s moxie couldn’t save the XFL. The XFL is now a footnote in the encyclopedia of professional football league TV failures, along with the USFL and WFL.

The XFL’s co-owners, World Wrestling Federation Entertainment and NBC, pulled the plug Thursday night, citing the league’s mounting operating costs and abysmal ratings as the main reasons for ending the league and dissolving the partnership. “We feel that it is in the best interests of our shareholders and our partners to discontinue the XFL,” WWFE chairman Vince McMahon said.

NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol, who has been second-guessed by pundits for passing on the NFL four years ago and signing on to produce an unknown football league with the WWF, said the XFL simply failed to deliver viewers the goods. “The bottom line is that we didn’t deliver what they wanted to see,” Ebersol said. “They came, but they just didn’t come back.” Ebersol estimated that NBC will lose about $50 million from its share of the XFL.

The WWF estimates that it will lose $35 million after taxes. McMahon said the XFL’s death card only came up Thursday afternoon, when the XFL couldn’t cut a deal with UPN to carry another season of the league.