The XFL Was a Smash Hit After Week 1

This past weekend the relaunch of the XFL commenced, and the league exceeded its expectations. The gameplay was decent; uniqueness of the rules brought more excitement and the association embracing gambling props as a way for fans to show interest in their product. The four games this past weekend averaged 3.19 million viewers and a 1.0 rating in the 18-49 demographic, which was slightly less viewership than the 3.25 million viewers that the Alliance of American Football (AAF) averaged on their kickoff weekend last year. What the XFL needs to do not to ruin this reboot is to learn from their past mistakes and focus on putting on the best product on the field, and not try to make the league NFL lite or make the league a sports entertainment league i.e. the WWE.

The reason why the XFL failed the first time was that the league relied on hokey gimmicks such as nicknames on the back of the jersey, teasing filming cheerleaders in the locker rooms, and live ball scrambles instead of the traditional coin toss. One thing they need to improve upon is the sideline player interviews. Sure some of the interviews were entertaining with players giving their raw emotions, but having players dropping the f-bomb on live television isn’t too appealing to network sponsors and the family-friendly image of the league that Vince McMahon envisions.

The XFL has some unique rules that do bring some action and excitement to the game, coach quarterback communication on the sidelines, not overly reliant on the kicking game, and the leagues embracing of controlled chaos. After what I observed after one week, two things that I want to see the NFL adopt from the XFL are:

  •   Their kickoff rule
  •   Their conversion ruleIn the case of their kickoff rule, the XFL found a way to make the kickoff more exciting and make the game safe at the same time. What makes the XFL’s kickoff exciting is that the ball will be placed on the 35-yard line instead of the 25, which incentivizes the kicking team giving the returnable kick. Furthermore, the kicking team and return team only lines up five yards apart, providing a better opportunity for the returner to break loose for longer returns. Ass for why the XFL’s kickoff rule is safer is the risk of players running 50-60 yards down the field at full speed increases the risk of injuries.Although the percentages of the conversion rules were not that good (7- for-19) in Week 1, I believe those percentages will improve as the gameplay evolves throughout the season. I was surprised that no team tried at three-point conversion in week one, but that is a way to bring more late-game intrigue to contests that would typically be out of reach.

I think if the league keeps up this success, it will serve as a great feeder system for the NFL. A place that practice squad players and undrafted free agents get an opportunity to develop in live-action while working for credible football minds such as Bob Stoops, Ted Cottrell, and Kevin Gilbride. The league already has a potential future star in Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker. Walker threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns in their 37-17 victory over the Los Angeles Wildcats. I will be looking on next week as the league has gained my interest.

(Story by Brandon Walker)

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