As many football fans no doubt already know, the XFL is returning.
Financed by WWE mogul Vince McMahan, the first go of the XFL in 2001 was a disaster but is remembered fondly years later. It will return in 2020 and the exact rules are not yet determined, aside from a 40-man roster, shorter game play, a 10-week regular season and four-team playoff.
“The new XFL is an exciting opportunity to reimagine America’s favorite sport,” McMahon said. “As we move towards kickoff, we look forward to listening and implementing innovative ideas from players, coaches, medical experts, technology executives, the media and most importantly football fans.”
We have a few ideas the XFL should implement. Here’s an overview:
1. Sliding extra point scale
Blowouts are the worst. Here’s how to never have a blowout again. Make going for two mandatory. Then, give coaches a sliding scale. From the one-yardline is one point. From the five yardline is two points. From the 30-yardline is five points. Give a team a chance to add a 10-point 50-yard play. The excitement will never wane. Will a team try and go up big early? Will a desperate heave at the end of the game become a miracle?
2. Fans call plays
Fan interaction will be key for the XFL to succeed. The coaches will draw up plays, as usual, but it will be up to the fans to choose what gets called. Perhaps it’s once per game (like in the Pro Bowl) or perhaps more — but the engagement will be high if fans are able to have a direct impact on the action on the field.
3. Bring back legends
The BIG3 did it in the NBA and it sort of worked. Bringing back recently retired players gives fans more interest in the league and the teams. The new XFL should require each team to employ at least three players per team who have had NFL experience (McMahon said he would not employ any players with a criminal record — sorry Johnny Manziel). This could also work as a mini-farm system for the NFL, with teams able to scout the XFL to yank players back into the fold. With the league looking to debut during the NFL’s offseason it could work.
4. Add fifth downs (sometimes)
In the interest in keeping games competitive, teams should have the ability to earn a fifth down. Whether it’s a reward for achieving specific tasks (completing a flea-flicker or a double-reverse), or a helpful tool for teams trailing by more than two scores as a way to get back in the game, fifth downs could be an addition to make things interesting.
5. Add Arena League bumpers
The Arena football league never really broke through but does have some very appealing rules. One of these is the the side boards. Instead of endless replay reviews, the only way for a player to be out of bounds is to be takled into the boards on either sideline. This should be implemented on a 100-yard field outdoors, with the players substituting jumping the wall like in a hockey game.
6. Eliminate kickers
Field goals are sort of lame. This league should get ride of them. No punting, no kickoffs, no extra point chip shots — the XFL should be touchdown or nothing. For years, it has been contemplated that the analytics of football suggest going for it on fourth down every time is a valid strategy but no NFL coaches were brave enough to implement. The team who wins the coin toss should get the ball at the 20, and the opposite team after the half. From there on, it’s pure football — no kickers needed on the 40-man roster.