Alright, what a weekend. Well actually, a crazy week of Minnesota sports news overflowed into an interesting weekend… and now we’re left with a hangover on Monday.
But beyond the plethora of the headlines we had here locally, there was football being played nationally. I didn’t watch every game (or all of any game) but I did watch enough XFL football this weekend to know one thing…
… I’ll be tuning in next week.
That’s all the XFL wants. That’s all they should want, at least. They need this football experiment to be a marathon, not a sprint. Having Vince McMahon and his money behind the league helps, but getting viewers to come back week-in and week-out will decide the league’s fate in the end.
And if you have good football with names that people know, you’ll get viewers… especially when there isn’t any other football on TV.
This was fun.— XFL (@xfl2020) February 10, 2020
Let’s do it again next weekend. What do you say?
It’s Real, Professional Football:
This is the key to everything. Does the XFL look like professional football? Does it even look like high-level D-1 college football? If it doesn’t, this whole thing isn’t going to work.
People want to watch high-level football, not garbage they could watch at the high school down the street.
And, the XFL delivered. I knew the quarterbacks. That was key, as well. If the QB’s can’t complete passes or make plays, then the product isn’t going to be good enough.
Starting #XFL Quarterbacks & their past #NFL earnings…— Spotrac (@spotrac) February 8, 2020
LA, Josh Johnson, $7.1M
DAL, Landry Jones, $5.2M
NY, Matt McGloin, $4.1M
DC, Cardale Jones, $1.5M
TB, Aaron Murray, $1.2M
HOU, Phillip Walker, $246k
STL, Jordan Ta’amu, UDFA
SEA, Brandon Silvers, UDFA
There were familiar names all over the field, if you pay attention to college and preseason NFL football. Hell, if you are a Minnesota football fan, there were plenty of names that should look familiar.
- QB – Philip Nelson – Dallas Renegades
- LB – Jonathan Celestin – DC Defenders
- DB – Jalen Myrick – DC Defenders
- WR – Jeff Badet – Dallas Renegades
- OT – Willie Beavers – Dallas Renegades
- S – Jack Tocho – LA Wildcats
- QB – Taylor Heinicke – St. Louis Battlehawks
- WR Stacey Coley – Tampa Bay Vipers
- TE Nick Truesdell – Tampa Bay Vipers
- DT Will Sutton – Seattle Dragons
That’s right. You can see former Gopher QB (for a little bit) Philip Nelson, throw passes to former Viking, Jeff Badet. I actually did. That’s fun.
I watched Jonathan Celestin make a bunch of plays on Saturday too. It’s cool to see some of these names actually get some run with professional teams playing on ESPN and FOX.
Taylor Heinicke is a backup, even in the XFL, but he doesn’t backup anyone at shotgunning alcoholic seltzers. Who doesn’t want to watch Taylor Heinicke shotgun seltzers?
The answer is, “nobody”, because everyone wants to watch that.
If only for one moment in time… Aaron Rodgers was watching the TV from his mansion far far away from Green Bay and his family, and he was wishing he was Taylor Heinicke.
Rules to Watch For:
Sure, some of the rules are a little out there, but that’s what the XFL is going for. They want to shake things up a bit. Some of the ideas will work, and some won’t.
One big rule change vs the NFL that does work, is the kickoffs.
The kicker lines up the football at one 30-yd-line and he’s all by himself. The receiving team lines 10 guys up on the opposite 30-yd-line. The kickoff team lines their remaining 10 players, 5 yards away from the receiving team, at the 35.
The kick-returner sits behind that double-layered wall of 20 players, and waits. Are you still paying attention? Because here is where things get weird…
The kickoff MUST land between the 20-yd-line and the endzone, from the air, on it’s first contact with the ground. Here is the XFL to explain it, and then some video of kickoffs from this weekend.
This is a rule the NFL should adopt IMMEDIATELY.
Kickoff rules for those who are looking for more information: pic.twitter.com/4H4TZRjSIx— XFL (@xfl2020) February 9, 2020
The new kickoffs in the XFL are different 👀 pic.twitter.com/eeuE7dceUV— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 8, 2020
alright i kinda really like the XFL’s kickoff rule pic.twitter.com/STrhzSwcRn— Christian D’Andrea (@TrainIsland) February 10, 2020
2 or 3 or 4-Point Conversions:
I’m not sold on the extra points or 2,3,4 point conversions after every touchdown. It’ll be interesting to see if those things grow on me or if they end up eliminating some things and replacing it with more traditional models.
XFL Replay is Revolutionary:
The replay system is awesome. You get to listen to everyone involved with the decision-making process. It’s 100% transparency. The NFL needs more of that obviously, but it also gives you full-insight into WHY officials make the rulings they make.
Can’t get enough of these inside looks at the replay review process during @XFL2020 games 😍— XFL on FOX (@XFLonFOX) February 9, 2020
Here’s the breakdown after the @XFLGuardians defense forced a fumble and returned it for a TD ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/tLoOvJSdmt
XFL replay review is 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/bLGcjrpuxj— John LaGrace (@jlagrace10) February 8, 2020
When looking at differences vs the NFL, the XFL replay system + transparency and the new kickoff rules were the two biggest wins on the weekend. Both changes could be initiated with relative immediacy by the NFL too, if they chose to do so.
But, to wrap this thing up with the same sentiment I started it with…. it’s about the football, at the end of the day.
The XFL was pretty damn good football. I had fun watching it, I went “oh wow” a few times, and didn’t change the channel, in preference of watching “National Treasure” for the 468th time. That’s what the XFL should focus on.
We are playing the game proven to be most popular in America, BY A LONG SHOT… how do we keep people from turning on something else when we’re on TV…?
I’m all about jobs and entertainment. The XFL gave a lot of people both of those things over the last two days. I’ll be back to see if they can do it for two weeks straight.
Let’s take this bad boy one week at a time.
I shouldn't be surprised by this: the top rated (TV) sports programming in the Twin Cities over the weekend wasn't the NBA or college hoops or the NHL or soccer or the PGA. It was the XFL. This market has a solid thirst for football.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) February 10, 2020
“The reviews have been nothing short of spectacular, the kickoff rules everybody loves. The XFL is a good thing for this country and a good thing for football.” –@PatMcAfeeShow on @xfl2020 pic.twitter.com/PknimxMeQP— Pat McAfee Show Quotes (@Patmcafeequotes) February 10, 2020
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan