When the XFL was relaunched, I knew this league would have to do something different to attract attention. If it was just the NFL-lite — like the AAF was, mostly — it wasn’t going to succeed.
So when the XFL unveiled a bevy of new rules and game-play innovations, I was curious to see which ones would work and which ones wouldn’t. After nearly half a season, there are plenty that have been wonderful changes and ones I think the CFL should consider adopting in the future.
So while everyone debates silly playoff proposals, let’s take a look at four XFL rules the CFL should implement.
At first, kickoffs in the XFL looked weird, and in many ways they still do. Still, the intended effect of lowering the amount of high impact collisions between 230-pound men has worked brilliantly.
The rule, which sees the coverage and return teams line up five yards from one another on the receiving team’s 35 and 30-yard lines, respectively, is the future of kickoffs in football.
The NFL has spent years trying to make kickoffs safer and all the new rules have done is make that play boring. The XFL came in and completely changed the kickoff game and if there is only one rule the CFL should steal, it is this one.
The CFL attempted to make conversions a little more exciting five years ago when they moved the ball back on kicked converts from the 12 to the 32-yard line, and moved up the two-point try from the five- to the three-yard line. We have seen an increase in the number of two-point converts attempted since, but the XFL’s convert is so much better because it removes kickers from the equation entirely.
Instead, teams scrimmage from the three, five, or 10-yard line depending on if they want to go for one, two or three (yes, three) points after scoring a touchdown. Imagine how much fun that would be to see on the wider field with the larger end zones. Sign me up!
Double forward pass
Yes, it is a gimmick, but so were jet sweeps, wildcat formations, bubble screens and flea flickers before becoming standard parts of any football offence. The double forward pass could be looked back on in 15 years in the same way.
The gist is that if the ball is thrown behind the line of scrimmage it can be thrown again, whether the first pass was forward or a lateral. Sports is meant to be fun, and arguing about whether the ball was thrown a centimetre in front or behind a player isn’t fun. It’s time to embrace the double forward pass.
Last, but certainly not least, is the CFL needs to take a page out of the XFL’s playbook in regards to transparency.
One of the things a lot of CFL fans have complained about is the lack of transparency with most things, but especially with officiating and replay reviews. The XFL opened the door for the CFL to walk through by putting the replay booth on TV, allowing fans to see what goes into making a decision. You might not always agree with the call, but at least we will know why the call was made. It does appear the league is looking into it, which is good.
The XFL also, somehow, has done a much better job with their live mic stuff than the CFL ever did. I still think it is pointless for 95 per cent of the viewing audience, but if the XFL can get it right, so can the CFL.
Sometimes more can be bad, but showing the home viewer why a call was made is not one of those times. Put a camera in the booth, mic ‘em up and let us know what the heck goes into deciding if a play stands or is reversed.