Vince McMahon’s new version of the XFL kicked off last weekend, with the responses generally positive. The television ratings on ABC/ESPN and Fox were decent (3.3 million) and the games reasonably competitive.
Two heavy favourites – Dallas and Tampa Bay – were disappointing, while players like Houston quarterback P.J. Walker became Week 1 stars.
How did it all work? Here’s a quick rundown on some of the good and bad elements of Week 1 in the XFL.
Good: Both the Fox and ABC broadcasts were solid, combining fresh graphics, new camera angles and innovations with tried and true television production. In other words, it looked more like a professional football league and less like Monday Night Raw.
Bad: Not much to complain about to be honest. As weeks go on, commentators will become more familiar with players. And with such unlimited access, you’re bound to hear a few ‘f-bombs.’
Dillon Day, ex-Bronco, unfiltered pic.twitter.com/z1TApv2yM1
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) February 8, 2020
In-game Sideline Access
Good: Far more access than NFL or college football telecasts, with the immediacy the real winner here. When St. Louis linebacker Steve Beauharnais failed to down a perfectly placed punt at the 1-yard line, reporter Pat McAfee (an ex-punter) approached him eagerly and discovered that Beauharnais had thought it was touched by a Dallas player and was therefore a live ball.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) February 10, 2020
Bad: In a couple of the early games, the sideline reporters were seen far too often and seemed far too eager to get on camera.
Good: New leagues have a tendency to go too far with logo and uniform design, but for the most part, the eight teams were closer to the NFL or college football rather than something from the old USFL or the World League of American Football.
Here are the best photos from #XFL Week 1:
— XFL (@xfl2020) February 10, 2020
Bad: The Dallas Renegades and the St. Louis Battlehawks both wore helmets that came across as similar shades of blue on television. In an eight-team league, you shouldn’t have any remotely close colour clashes.
Kickoff & Extra Point Play
Good: The three PAT options make for good television and add pizzazz to what is usually a relatively boring play. The unique kickoff play addresses the excitement issue without compromising safety.
First kickoff ✅
— XFL (@xfl2020) February 8, 2020
Bad: If you miss the extra point (a real possibility compared to the NFL’s almost-automatic kick), you get six points, the same as two field goals. So the incentive to settle for the field goal might actually be stronger here than in the NFL. I would have liked to have seen a touchdown worth seven points.
Mic’d up Refs, Coaches & Players
Good: Adds another layer of transparency if you can hear referees and video replay officials discuss the calls. Also, plenty of good behind-the-scenes candid moments.
Jim Zorn: "Oh come on man. PUNT IT! PUNT IT!
I love the XFL 😎 pic.twitter.com/EbENyOXwPm
— René Bugner (@RNBWCV) February 8, 2020
Bad: Not sure if the average Joe fan gets much out of hearing an offensive coordinator tell a quarterback to run “Z left, 44 triple red twist.”
To win the XFL Championship:
$4.50 DC Defenders
$4.50 New York Guardians
$5.50 Houston Roughnecks
$6.50 Dallas Renegades
$6.50 Tampa Bay Vipers
$7.50 St. Louis BattleHawks
$10.00 Los Angeles Wildcats
$15.00 Seattle Dragons