XFL Takeaways: Which Rules Could Work in NFL?

Jordan Cohn
February 10, 2020 - 4:07 pm

Of the primary reasons to watch the XFL during its opening weekend — be it the players, the coaches or even the outcomes of the games — perhaps none provided as much intrigue as the various rules and practices that differentiate the league from the NFL. Based on the ratings and the overall response on social media, it seems that the XFL’s rules were praised much more than they were criticized, and not much controversy arose from a successful opening weekend.

Whether the NFL will adopt any of these rules is a question that can only be answered with speculation for the time being, but there is consensus among Week 1 viewers that certain features of the league clicked immediately while others’ practicality is yet to be determined.

Here are some of the aspects of the XFL that came into play in its opening week.

The Good

Replay Transparency

There aren’t too many reasons to oppose this feature of the XFL in this or any football league. The amount of times that NFL viewers were left scratching their heads -- or for more diehard fans, screaming at their TVs in tears -- seems to beg some sort of solution so that the average audience can understand why certain rulings were made.

This problem would be solved if the XFL’s transparency during replays carried over to the NFL. A perfect example, as posted by former NFL punter Pat McAfee, helped fans to see what goes into a replay review with a behind-the-scenes look at the replay booth and the communication that takes place between the on-field officials and the analysts upstairs.

Though the NFL took a step in the right direction with allowing coach’s challenges (which, ironically, the XFL disallows) on pass interference calls, the football universe was largely disappointed at the repeated failure coaches experienced when attempting to overturn an interference call. What, exactly, went into each of those decisions would be incredibly helpful for fans to understand what makes a play interference and what doesn’t and would knock out a massive issue in today’s NFL.


My first reaction to the XFL kickoff is that it just looks so unnatural.