Lively Tales About Dead Teams

2001 New York/New Jersey Hitmen

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Keith Elias New York-New Jersey HitmenXFL (2001)

Born: 2000 – XFL founding franchise.
Folded: May 10, 2001

StadiumGiants Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: XFL

XFL Champions: 2001

 

The New York/New Jersey Hitmen were one of eight franchises in the XFL, a short-lived spring football promotion backed by the World Wrestling Federation and NBC. The team played just ten games in its existence, finishing the 2001 season at 4-6 and outside the playoffs.

The Hitmen roster consisted of a journeymen players from the fringes of the late 1990’s NFL and NFL Europe. Some other XFL franchises featured high profile NFL 1st round draft busts such as Jim Druckenmiller, Tommy Maddox and former Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam. The Hitmen featured no such name-brand players.

Under head coach Rusty Tillman and offensive coordinator Greg Briner, the Hitmen suffered from an anemic offense. The Hitmen played in the league’s debut game on February 3, 2001 against the Las Vegas Outlaws in Nevada. Months of hype and WWF brand loyalty led to blockbuster Neilsen ratings with over 15 million homes tuned in. The Hitmen gave the new league a black eye with a flaccid offensive effort in a 19-0 loss. XFL viewership on NBC plunged more than 50% the following week and never recovered.

The Hitmen failed to score more than 20 points in each of their first nine games. They post a season-high 22 points in their regular season finale against the Birmingham Thunderbolts on April 8, 2001. This also proved to be the last Hitmen appearance ever, as the team failed to make the playoffs and the XFL went out of business one month later.

 

New York/New Jersey Hitmen Shop

ESPN Films 30 For 30: This Is The XFL

 

New York/New Jersey Hitmen Memorabilia

 

Hitmen Video

The Hitmen host the Orlando Rage at Giants Stadium on February 18, 2001.

 

In Memoriam

Offensive guard Troy Stark suffered a knee injury during the first month of the 2001 season. The Hitmen placed him on injured reserve and he had knee surgery. Stark had a second surgery in May 2001. The 28-year old was found dead on June 1, 2001. Authorities believe that physical therapy following Stark’s second surgery may have loosened a blood clot that made its way to his lungs.

 

Links

XFL Media Guides

XFL Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

January 6th, 2018 at 7:06 pm

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