3 things the NFL should learn from the XFL
The XFL is off to a successful start. It started its season at the perfect time of year, has a good TV contract in place to put its product in front of as many eyes as possible, and offers a twist on NFL games that have many viewers intrigued.
Let's take a look at three things the NFL could and should take away from the upstart league.
The NFL has dealt with concussion and player-safety issues for years. As more information comes out on the devastating effects of CTE, and brutal "across the middle" concussions visually shake our confidence in the sport, genuine efforts to protect the athletes on the field have become increasingly important to the long-term outlook of the game.
Kickoffs have the potential for great excitement, but relative to the physical toll they inflict on participants, they aren't worth it.
The XFL has changed its kickoff rules in a couple smart ways. Blockers and coverage players are only five yards away from each year at the line of scrimmage, which gives gunners less of a running start before the inevitable collisions that occur.
The rule I really like, though, is that touchbacks (when a ball is kicked into the end zone, without bouncing in play first) are taken to the 35-yard line. This incentivizes players to avoid a car crash at the 23-yard line.
The NFL is slowly coming around to admitting that gambling is what drives the sport forward, but it still plays coy. The XFL has embraced gamblers.
The XFL's broadcasts are able to openly talk about the spread and total of games. While it's been fun over the years to hear Al Michaels mention "friends in the desert," gambling has taken football to where it is, so let's stop pretending otherwise.
Just spent five minutes explaining what a point spread is to a five-year old (who asked about the -9.5 next to DC in the score bug).. Thought I made headway until he goes 'How do they know who should be the favorite if these teams have never played before?' #XFL https://t.co/125a2OCwWg— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 8, 2020
Points after touchdowns
There are a lot of fun parts about the XFL's rules, but the points-after-touchdown rules are the most exciting.
Coaches can opt to go for one (from the 2-yard line), two (from the 5), or three points (from the 10). Kicking is another relic of the sport that probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but how many great teams have been ruined by a bad kick?
The more times we can take kicking out and let the highly-paid stars of the sport determine point outcomes, the better. Such rules also produce greater variance in scores, which ultimately creates more drama and offers a larger list of potential outcomes. Kudos to the XFL for its creativity.