He Hate Me: The original XFL’s most unforgettable nickname

Leigh Copson:

For some the letters X-F-L will remind them of one thing…. HE HATE ME!

READ MORE: Will XFL 2.0 last more than one season?

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Vince McMahon’s American Football league has risen from the dead and on February 8 he, the players, coaches, officials, broadcasters and everybody else involved will be desperate to see the returning XFL get off to the best possible start.

Poor week one football and a major technical blunder in week two killed off the original version of the league before it even started, and even though McMahon is largely mocked for the XFL’s failure the first time around it was a league that did spawn some stars.

Los Angeles Xtreme quarterback Tommy Maddox and Las Vegas Outlaws wide receiver Yo Murphy went on to win a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams respectively, but neither man achieved the same popularity as Rod Smart.

Why? Three words. He. Hate. Me.

You see, McMahon wanted his original version of the XFL to be so outlandish and over-the-top that he allowed players to put nicknames on their jerseys instead of their surname.

There was ‘Baby Boy’ (Haven Field of the New York/New Jersey Hitmen) and ‘Deathblow’ (Jamal Duff of the Los Angeles Xtreme) to name a couple, but none captured the imagination like running back Rod Smart’s nickname did, so much so that when you hear the letters X-F-L the first thing that pops into your head is ‘He Hate Me’.

From the first time he touched the football Smart became the biggest star the new league had, with his grammatically incorrect nickname leading to the question, who is ‘he’ and why does he ‘hate’ the running back?

Smart would reveal that ‘he’ was his opponent or anyone else who tried to stop him shining on the football field, and even though the XFL folded after just one season, ‘he’ certainly failed to prevent the running back from going on to have a successful career in football.

‘He Hate Me’ won an NFC Championship with the Carolina Panthers and returned four punts for 74 yards in a Super Bowl loss to New England, and he would also have stints with both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Oakland Raiders before leaving the NFL in 2006 and the game itself in 2008.

The new XFL will now give players an opportunity to follow in Smart’s footsteps from this league to the big league, the NFL, but will anyone from the New York Guardians, Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, Seattle Dragons, DC Defenders, St Louis BattleHawks or Tampa Bay Vipers become an instant hit like Smart?

We will find out when the XFL returns on February 8 and ahead of the big kick-off why not check out our guide to the leading contenders to be crowned champions in the league’s first season back in action. Just click here for 2020 XFL Championship odds.