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The Birmingham Thunderbolts were a short-lived springtime American football team based in Birmingham, Alabamamarker. This team was part of the failed XFL begun by Vince McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment and by NBC, a major television network in the United Statesmarker.

The only season

The Thunderbolts played in the Eastern Division, with the Chicago Enforcers, Orlando Rage and the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. They finished the only year of XFL play – 2001 – in last place with the worst record in the league, at 2-8.

The Thunderbolts played their home games at Birmingham's legendary Legion Fieldmarker. They were coached by Brooklynmarker-native Gerry DiNardo, a former star player at the University of Notre Damemarker, and previously head coach at Vanderbilt Universitymarker and Louisiana State Universitymarker. Following the collapse of the XFL, he went on to coach at Indiana University.

The team's colors were purple, yellow, and white. Their logo was a stylized 'B' with six lightning bolts extending from it. On the teams helmets, the logo was placed at the front, instead of the customary position on each side, with only the upper three lightning bolts visible.The team was frequently referred to by fans and the media as simply the Bolts. Team merchandise almost always used the shortened Bolts moniker.

Allegedly, the league had originally planned to name the team the Blast, but changed the name at the last minute when it was considered to invoke images of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Churchmarker and of the 1998 bombing of a local abortion clinic, two tragic events in Birmingham history. The teams logo is said to be the same one originally designed for the Blast.

While XFL players were encouraged to use nicknames instead of their last names on the backs of their jerseys, no Thunderbolts player ever did.

After losing the opening game to the Memphis Maniax, the Thunderbolts posted wins over the Chicago Enforcers and the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. These would ultimately become the only victories the Thunderbolts would ever see. The Bolts would finish with a 2-8 record.

Birmingham went through all 3 quarterbacks during the season. Former Florida State quarterback Casey Weldon was signed as the starter. Former University of Alabama quarterback Jay Barker was signed as the backup, despite the crowds chanting his name during the home games. Barker would become the starter after Weldon injured his shoulder. Barker suffered a concussion in Chicago, and was replaced by third string QB Graham Leigh.

NBC dropped the XFL concept after the first (2001) season due to dismal ratings, and the league was disbanded shortly thereafter.

Season-By-Season



Birmingham Thunderbolts players

Thunderbolts helmet


  • 33 James Bostic RB college (Auburn)






  • 32 Curtis (cool curt) Alexander RB college (Alabama) Alexander was on the Denver Broncos practice squad for the 1999 season before joining the Miami Dolphins for the 2000 season




Post-XFL Developments

After the league folded, head coach Gerry DiNardo joined the staff of Birmingham sports talk radio station WJOX 690, as did Jay Barker, who also did sports commentary on local CBS TV affiliate WIATmarker channel 42.Barker currently hosts "The Opening Drive" on WJOX94.5 in Birmingham with Tony Kurreand former NFLkicker Al Del Greco.

DiNardo returned to his college football coaching roots in 2002 as the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiersfootball team. The team was sometimes jokingly nicknamed "The Fighting DiNardos" in his honor. He was fired at the end of the 2004 season. He currently co-hosts ESPN Radio College GameDayon Saturdays in the fall.

Team Leaders







External links



2001 2 8 0 4th Eastern --

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