Axe falls on the XFL

NBC and the World Wrestling Federation sacked the XFL late Thursday, killing the league after one season and dissolving a partnership that will cost them around $100 million.

World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon was scrambling as late as Thursday afternoon for a way to salvage the XFL, but finally gave up after being unable to work out "deal points" with UPN.

"We tried every way possible to make this work, but it wasn't until about six hours ago we realized we couldn't make this work," McMahon said in a Thusday evening press conference.

WWFE and partner NBC gave up on the league three weeks after the end of the league's first season. McMahon and NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol acknowledged that the steep falloff in the Nielsens for XFL games on NBC, UPN and TNN killed TV's latest alternative pro football league.

Ebersol conceded that by early March that the XFL wasn't going to work. He said NBC sports considered shifting the games out of primetime into a weekend afternoon slot next year, but the network had too many commitments to other sports.

Ebersol said he had no regrets and a lot of fun. "Life is about risk and opportunity." Each side should lose around $50 million before taxes. - John Higgins