Western Michigan football coach Tim Lester had a blast playing for the Chicago Enforcers of the XFL in 2001.
Lester, a former WMU quarterback, was on his way back from a recruiting trip in Chicago when he spoke to the Free Press about Thursday’s announcement that Vince McMahon plans to bring the XFL back as an eight-team league in 2020.
“It was my first job out of college,” Lester said. “I got a chance to play and continue to develop and put some film out there. Ron Meyer was our coach in Chicago and had been in a Super Bowl. Being on a team was like being on a team. Coaches were coaching you hard. It was a lot of fun.”
On why it was such a good first job out of college
"For a quarterback, I think it was $5,000 if we lost and $7,500 if we won. That was my first job out of college and I made something like $60,000 in a couple months. It was not a bad first job.
“We were coming back. They called us and told us a couple weeks later they were closing it. I was looking forward to another shot at it.”
On if he'd support a WMU player trying out in 2020?
“Heck yeah. If they have a chance to make some money and continue to develop at a higher level with bigger, faster players, and put more film together to get a chance to go to another camp, that would be a great opportunity. Obviously if they could go to the NFL, that’s where they’d want to go first. If they couldn’t, it’d be a great chance to continue to play.”
On the need to play in the right cities to make it work
“Playing outside in February in Soldier Field was difficult. It was snowing and the whole ground was mud. A ball that they tried to make waterproof, it ended up making it like a hot potato. That hurt the quality of the football. Towards the end of the year, once teams got going, a team like Tommy Maddox’s team in L.A. … the quality at the end was much better than at the beginning. Not a lot of people were watching by that time.”
Why didn't he have nickname like "He Hate Me" on his jersey?
“We didn’t do that in Chicago. I’ll never forget, we were in L.A. playing Week 2. I guess the (nickname) on the back of your jersey was such a big hit in Week 1, the league required a couple guys on our team to change their names. We didn’t want to as a team.
“After what He Hate Me did, I wish I would have had some foresight on this and maybe thought of something that would have got me a deal or something.”
On Vince McMahon
“He’s a promoter. ….If it’s a fast game and there’s no cheerleaders, no gimmicks and all that, I think people will watch it.”
On life after the XFL
“I didn’t get a sniff after that. I played Arena football for a couple years after that, waiting to find a coaching job. I knew that was what I was going to do. I just played until I got the job I wanted.”
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