XFL 2.0

At a Holiday Gathering prior to New Year’s, I had a discussion with a former colleague about the possible reincarnation of the XFL; he called it XFL 2.0.  He asked if I had any ideas what the league might do to identify itself as something other than a “Spring Football Feeder League for the NFL” (his term).  As we chatted, we identified some of the things the “old XFL” had done to be different from the NFL and how some of them worked and some did not.

For example, in the “old XFL” they did away with the opening coin toss and had one player from each team scramble for a loose ball about 10 or 15 yards away from each one.  That was a dumb idea to begin with and was shown to be even dumber when one of the “scramblers” came up with an injury in the “action” that was to replace a coin toss.  I cannot be certain, but I doubt that there has ever been an injury during a coin toss making a player unable to participate in the game.

At the same time, the “old XFL” came up with the field cameras and the extensive use of the overhead wire guided cameras that have now become commonplace in the NFL.  The question we were trying to flesh out was what might XFL 2.0 do to contribute to professional football.

I have long thought that one of the least dramatic plays in a football game is the place kick.  I liked the idea of the 2-point conversion from the time that the college game adopted it more than 50 years ago; it came into the NFL in the 1990s, but it is not used there nearly as often as I would prefer.  Therefore, my first suggestion for XFL 2.0 would be to abolish entirely the point after touchdown.  Teams scoring a TD would then run a play from the 3-yardline and if successful it would be worth an additional 2 points.

Carrying on with that theme, I want to dis-incentivize long field goal tries.  Granted a 55-yard attempt is more attention-grabbing than a 30-yard try; nonetheless, I would prefer real football plays to any field goal try.  Therefore, I would make any field goal try between 40 and 49 yards in length worth only 2 points and any try of 50 yards or more worth only 1 point.  Shorter field goals will still be worth 3 points.  Here is my reasoning:

  • If a team has the ball 4th down and 3 yards to go at the opponent’s 35-yardline, just about every NFL coach would send the field goal team out to the field.  The result will be a 52-yard field goal try.  Marginally interesting…
  • However, if that try is only worth 1 point, maybe that would encourage coaches to try to make the first down and continue the drive.  Much more interesting …
  • Teams would sometimes opt to punt the ball from there to pin the opponent inside their own 10-yardline.  Not as exciting as a play to go for the first down, but more exciting than a field goal try…

My colleague’s reaction to those ideas was to tell me I was “taking the foot out of football”.  All I can say is that if you react that way, I will have to plead guilty.

My colleague offered a modification to my idea of eliminating the PAT.  He said that a team could have a place-kicked try for a single point but that the player making the kick must be the player who scored the TD.  My reaction was that his idea could inject some blooper highlights into a game, but my intention was to put more actual football plays into the game.

  • [Aside:  Making extra point conversions less automatic could increase the number of “Bad Beats” or “Back Door Covers” in XFL 2.0 games and that might increase wagering interest which would then increase interest …]

My former colleague thought that players should be incentivized to win games.  Here was his suggestion:

  • Assume a player has a contract worth $100K and they play a 10-game regular season.  That player would nominally receive a game check of $10K.
  • However, my colleague wants to make 25% of every players game check an incentive.  For the $100K player, that would mean his game check for a winning game is $12.5K and it is $7.5K for a losing game.
  • Interesting concept…

My final suggestion was to eliminate entirely the “half-the-distance” penalties in the game.  If, for example, offensive holding is decreed to be a 10-yard penalty, then it should not be less than that just because the foul occurred at a certain point on the field.  Here is how I would handle this:

  • Offensive team has the ball 1st and 10 on its own 6-yardline and there is a penalty for offensive holding on the first play.  Instead of walking off 3 yards and making it 1st and 13 from the 3-yardling, I want to move the first down market from the 16-yardline to the 26-yardline.  Offensive holding costs the offending team 10 yards.  If the offensive team commits another penalty on the next play, then just move that first down marker further down the field…
  • On defense, it gets a bit trickier.  Offense has the ball 1st and goal at the 6-yardline going in for a TD.  The defense commits a “hands-to-the-face” penalty on the first play.  Instead of marching off only 3 yards and running 1st down again, the ball would be placed at the 6-yardline and 10 yards of penalties against the defensive team would go into a “penalty bank”.  The next time the offending team gets the ball 1st and 10, those penalty yards would be marched off and the team would start the next drive with 1st and 20.  Oh, and if the defensive team commits two such penalties, more yards go into that “penalty bank”.

Will these ideas guarantee success for XFL 2.0?  Hardly.  Will these ideas generate discussion as to the differences between the NFL and XFL 2.0 thereby generating some initial interest in the reincarnated league?  Probably.  Are these changes likely to happen?  Let me just say that Vince McMahon does not have my phone number or e-mail address…

Finally, since I mentioned Vince McMahon above and his claim to fame is the world of pro ‘rassling, here is a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times about pro ‘rassling:

“A man proposed to his girlfriend at ‘Monday Night Raw.’

“That’s what she gets for saying she expected a humongous ring.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



6 thoughts on “XFL 2.0”

  1. Why don’t they forget about these stupid minor leagues and set up a real farm system for the NFL. You could get NFL to pay for a league of teams that is shared by all and get rid of the practice squads and this constant revolving door of try outs.

    1. david:

      I think the NFL owners have had their “minor league” at no cost for so long that they have come to view it as an entitlement. If someone else wants to set up such a league and incur the costs, the NFL will happily accept that. Recall, the NFL established the WLAF – later known as NFL Europe – and gave it up because it cost more than the owners thought it was worth.

  2. Because they don’t pay for the NCAA, they are also not on the hook (as much) for the CTE and other injuries to the players. I don’t see the NFL giving up that “deniability” and accepting any liability for players’ health which would be a part of any minor league contract.

    I think the rugby conversion rule would work best, it is made by a player on the field along a line straight out from where the ball is touched down (hence, the name) but in the modern gridiron game it will be where the ball crosses the goal line. Score at the pylon, kick from the sideline.

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