Jesse jumps to XFL


In a characteristic departure from form, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who declared a change in nickname from "The Body" to "The Mind," will soon be a big mouth for the fledgling XFL pro-football league that will begin on NBC in January.

Whatever the moniker, Ventura remains the same independent-minded force that segued from a career as a World Wrestling Federation bad guy to renegade politico. Last week, he called his new role as XFL analyst "just another job" with a simple objective: "We're here to have a good time."

Asked if he was concerned about calling games in a league that might be more theatrical than athletic, Ventura barked, "It's not going to be theatrics, it's going to be football." Ventura called NFL games for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1989-90) and Minnesota Vikings (1991).

WWF honcho Vince McMahon bristled and insisted he was joking when he told the ESPN: The Magazine about making it an XFL television feature to quiz cheerleaders about off-field activities with the athletes. "When the quarterback fumbles or the wideout drops a pass-and we know who he's dating-I want the reporters right back in her face on the sidelines demanding to know whether the two of them did the wild thing last night," he said in the magazine.

At the press conference, McMahon also said the league would abide by prevailing drug laws-unregulated steroid use aside-and sought to distinguish its profile from the NFL. "This is the league where we won't allow any felons."

NBC Sports head Dick Ebersol swore the network wouldn't ever chase rights to the NFL again. "You don't work for a GE company and come home at the end of the day to tell Jack Walsh you just lost $150 million," he said, referring to annual projected-network losses on NFL carriage.