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XFL Drafts Ex-NFL Draft Picks

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CHICAGO (AP) _ ``Stone Cold'' Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H weren't among the selections.

But pro wrestling did manage to leave a mark on the first XFL draft Saturday. After all, Austin's mass-produced signature was right there on a league credential.

The new league, a joint venture of the World Wrestling Federation and NBC, features some former NFL first-rounders while promising a no holds-barred approach and off-the-mat rules when it begins in February.

A black football trimmed in red and white, no fair catches on punts, no quarterback-in-the-grasp rule, miked huddles and cameras everywhere _ on the sideline, in locker rooms and in the helmets of selected players.

``We're going for something that millions of kids played in the school yard, something that resonates with people who've enjoyed the game on all different levels,'' league president Basil DeVito said after helping conduct Saturday's first 10 rounds of the draft before about 100 fans at a hotel near O'Hare International Airport.

``It's simple,'' DeVito said of his league's premise. ``Nobody owns it. Nobody owns football.''

According to the league's Web site, a quarterback's base salary for the 10-game schedule will be about $50,000, but players will be able to collect $2,500 bonuses for each win. It's incentive pay and that's fine with at least one of the league's coaches.

``We have no negotiations, you have no owners in there. You have no owners in there in who are going to disrupt the progress of the league because it's centrally controlled,'' said Chicago Enforcers coach Ron Meyer, former head coach of the Patriots and Colts, who took the job when Chicago favorite Dick Butkus resigned to take a job in the league office.

``I've been in a couple of start-up situations and I know the pitfalls,'' Meyer said.

``It is a work in progress, certainly. But we're light years ahead of what I envisioned.''

DeVito said the league had sold 120,000 season tickets so far and hopes to average 25,000 fans a game.

``Is it going to be perfect? No. Nothing is,'' LA Xtreme coach Al Luginbill said. ``But we're going to shock some people.''

Before the draft started, the eight teams were allowed to protect picks from three colleges each. Among those designated were former NFL first-rounders Mike Croel, Alvin Harper, Tommy Maddox and Marcus Nash.

Once the draft began, five quarterbacks were the first players chosen. Ex-Maryland quarterback Scott Milanovich had the distinction of being the first XFL player selected _ by the Xtreme.

The Enforcers, with the last pick of the first round, nabbed running back John Avery, a first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 1998.

And near the end the first day _ the draft continues Sunday and Monday _ quarterback Jim Druckenmiller, a first-round choice of the San Francisco 49ers in 1997, was selected by the Maniax with the 78th selection.

Avery, Druckenmiller, running back Vaughn Dunbar and linebacker Craig Powell, who both went to the San Francisco Demons, were all NFL first-round selections.

``Interestingly, all the coaches tell me they got exactly the players they wanted,'' DeVito said. ``And since they are still undefeated, I guess that's OK.''
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