The XFL Might Actually be on to Something
Call me impressed. When I first heard that Wrestling Promoter Vince McMahon wanted to re-introduce his failed Xtreme Football League to the public after falling flat in 2001, I was quite sure it had no chance of success...
The assumption was based on the outrageous names, innuendo and other 2001 style things the league did that would be totally inappropriate and out of place in 2020.
Boy was I wrong.....
Granted it was only week one, but the promise and creativity shown in the different rules and more importantly the broadcasts, give me reason for optimism.
From the kickoffs, which feature both teams lined up just 5-yards apart from each other, unable to move until the ball is kicked, caught and in the process of being returned to point-after touchdowns and overtime, there are some real innovations here.
The innovation though which stood out the most for me (the TV Professional): The Broadcast. Yes, the presentation and different looks brought by FOX and ESPN/ABC.
It seemed like everyone was mic'd and the audio could be used at any time. Coaches talking to their teams in the locker room, coaches calling plays and immediate interviews with players after they came off the field. I love it!
However, probably the single biggest thing for me: The view from the replay booth. Viewers actually get to see the replay folks looking at and talking about a play under review. A simple thing that makes one of the single worst parts of an NFL Broadcast something to watch.
You don't need me to tell you how horrifically awful an NFL Broadcast is when a play goes under review. The Network almost always immediately goes to commercial and when we come back the play has either already been decided or we get some "Rules Expert" discussing whether he thinks the call will stand or not.
Totally un-necessary and a real excuse to turn the damn TV off.
Most--if not all of these XFL innovations would totally make an NFL game infinitely more fun to watch. Do I think any of this will happen in the NFL? No....
Much credit to Vince McMahon who is an absolute master showman and gets the idea of keeping the audience involved and invested. Watching an NFL game on TV can often be like watching paint dry and the XFL was definitely in Week 1, not that.
Heck, the games were even competitive and had some legitimate good play. It looked like a bunch of professionals out on the field and there were quite a few fringe NFL players out there trying to make a name for themselves which is great.
Change does not come quickly in the NFL and the uber paranoid coaches would never....ever...allow plays to be broadcast in the open. They would never agree to allow players to be interviewed right after a play either. The NFL is just not wired that way.
The NFL is a league that often does things because it's the way they've always been done. From scouting and player evaluation to offense, rosters and the restrictions on releasing almost any information to the public.
That needs to change.
Yeah, sure, the NFL can say "We are watched by more people than anything else on TV" and they'd be right. But it is like watching a baseball game to me, mostly background noise. I can't sit through a full NFL game without something else to keep me occupied and the in stadium experience is even worse.
With all of the timeouts and commercial breaks, the games are a guaranteed 3-hours despite only 60-minutes of actual time play. It can be excruciatingly long and boring.
I hope the XFL sticks around and avoids the same fate as the AAF. I think, with McMahon being willing to absorb losses out of the blocks, they will. I hope the innovation and new creative wrinkles (at least some of them), get adopted by the NFL.
But I'm not holding my breath.
Keep being you Vince and keep trying to shake the status quo, it's what you do and how you roll and if this version of the XFL is what you've evolved to, sign me up, I'm in.