The time of waiting, speculating, and eye-rolling is over. The XFL 2020 reboot got underway with enthusiastic crowds at all four games.
Although initially skeptical, I wanted to give the league a fair shot. I decided to put Vince McMahon’s first attempt at the XFL aside, and I was pleasantly surprised as I watched the games. The themes of redemption and the love of football rang of (some) sincerity, and none of the circus atmosphere of 2001 was visible.
Intensity and drive from the players were immediately noticeable. The teams played hard and fast. There were unbelievable catches, bone-jarring hits, and the spectators seemed engaged throughout the games.
Overall, there were several features and rule changes I thought were positive and enhanced the game as well as a few that I felt were irritating or took away from the game.
The faster pace of the game was something I immediately appreciated. The game clock ticking away throughout all but the last two minutes of each half or time outs eliminated those long, arduous minutes spent listening to the booth describe the action or inaction on the field. I believe the 25-second play clock change was good, and I saw fewer delay of game flags than I expected.
The officiating crews were fine and not infuriating. All officials have NCAA experience and seemed to be competent. I think an official dedicated to spotting the ball is alright. However, I don’t know how much time ticked away in NFL games during the ball spotting.
The review booth has the last word, and XFL coaches cannot challenge calls. I liked the fact that there is a camera in the booth, and viewers at home can watch and listen. Not only is this system efficient, but it is also fair and helps fans understand what goes into the process of reversing a call on the field.
The kickoff and punting formation changes seem like a good way to enhance player safety. Additionally, I like the fact that touchbacks in the XFL come out to the 35-yard line. This brings more interesting fourth down-plays and limits the number of punts.
I hesitate to call these irritations bad; I’m sure some viewers may have appreciated them. I, however, did not.
I hated the sideline announce team accessing the players throughout the game. I understand the public wants to get to know what is happening, but there were instances where players barely exited the field then had microphones and cameras in their faces immediately. Just my opinion, it adds nothing to the game.
I am not a fan of the short 10-minute halftime. For the record, I also don’t like the 12-minute NFL halftime. Can we have a little more time to get snacks and drinks? Additionally, I think the players and coaches should have privacy for their 10-minute break. A camera in the locker room during halftime seems unnecessarily invasive.
My last significant annoyance is with the communicating between the coach and his players. I am fine with the team talking to each other; just stop broadcasting it. Hearing the jabbering is pointless for fans and distracting.
Overall, I would say the first week of the new XFL went well. According to a Twitter poll by The Grueling Truth, the majority of viewers liked the XFL 2.0 reboot. Did you watch any games? What did you think of the 2020XFL? Are you watching again?