What rule changes would make the XFL more attractive to fans?

Looks like Vince McMahon might roll out XFL 2.0, which will be announced later this afternoon. Fans love football, but they have dismissed the World Football League, the United States Football League and the XFL’s first rendition during the past 40 years. NFL ratings may be somewhat lower the past few seasons, but its games continue to attract significant numbers of Americans. More than 43 million people watched last week’s AFC Championship game, making it the most watched TV show since last year’s Super Bowl.

For starters, here are a few changes I’d like to see:

No holding at the line of scrimmage. Let’s face it: NFL refs could call holding on nearly every play from scrimmage – unless it’s done by the Patriots, that is.) The NBA gave up calling walks years ago, which allows the game to flow more smoothly. Players adapted, and fans accepted this change.

Reduce time between plays from 40 to 20 seconds. We don’t need to hear 10-15 seconds of quarterbacks repeatedly yelling Omaha at the line of scrimmage. We want to watch action – even players scrambling to the line of scrimmage. That’s why MLB commissioner Rob Manfred instituted a pitch clock in the minor leagues and will probably do so for this year’s major league season.

No helmets. Seriously. When players no longer have a head cushion, they will alter approaches to tackling, perhaps aligning the sport more closely to rugby in which players collide only with a ball carrier. Those tackles are not always as violent as the ones in American football, but they are exciting and require significant strength and athleticism. In addition, this would eliminate the head trauma absorbed in the trenches on every play. What linemen wouldn’t prefer this – especially if they can also hold on every play?

Say yes to trash talking. Encourage trash talking by players and coaches before, during and after games, which will excite the fan base. Woo! Few people could nurture this better than McMahon. Can you imagine anything better than hearing Bill Belichick unleash his inner Ric Flair to throw shade on the Eagles in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. I’d be transfixed instead of bored, snored and my interest gored.

Offensive players can move sideways at all times. Stop this childish game where defensive players try to make someone flinch – unless we want to punish the offensive lineman who instinctively reacts at the line of scrimmage by allowing him to get punched per this rough neighborhood game.

Some other possibilities – increasing length for first downs, shortening fields, using different number of players on each side. Add your own suggestions below. I look forward to the press conference.

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About jgisondi

I am the author of the "Field Guide To Covering Sports," the second edition now available from Congressional Quarterly Press/SAGE, and "Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot" (U of Nebraska Press). Field Guide to Covering Sports, Second Edition goes beyond general guidance about sports writing, offering readers practical advice on covering 20 specific sports. From auto racing to wrestling, author Joe Gisondi gives tips on the seemingly straightforward—like where to stand on the sideline and how to identify a key player—along with the more specialized—such as figuring out shot selection in lacrosse and understanding a coxswain’s call for a harder stroke in rowing. In the new Second Edition, readers also explore sports reporting across multimedia platforms, developing a foundational understanding for social media, mobile media, visual storytelling, writing for television and radio, and applying sabermetrics. Fully revised with new examples and updated information to give readers confidence in covering just about any game, match, meet, race, regatta or tournament, Field Guide to Covering Sports, Second Edition is the ideal go-to resource to have on hand when mastering the beat. In "Monster Trek," Joe Gisondi brings to life the celebrities in bigfoot culture: people such as Matt Moneymaker, Jeff Meldrum, and Cliff Barackman, who explore remote wooded areas of the country for weeks at a time and spend thousands of dollars on infrared imagers, cameras, and high-end camping equipment. Pursuing the answer to why these seekers of bigfoot do what they do, Gisondi brings to the reader their most interesting—and in many cases, harrowing—expeditions. You can order both from Amazon.
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