The third itineration of the XFL launches this weekend. And it will do so with a rule that the NFL — and every major collegiate and professional sports league — should adopt.
Coaches get one replay challenge a game. They can use it to challenge anything and everything. And that’s it.
“One of the things I know that I’m most excited about and intrigued by is we’re giving our coaches an opportunity to challenge anything, one time per game, it’s an all-in challenge on any officiating decision,” said XFL officiating head Dean Blandino, via The Athletic. “A coach, if they have a timeout remaining, they can challenge that decision. And this, this has never been done before at any level of football, and something that we’ve talked about during my time with the NFL.”
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It’s a simple rule. And a brilliant one. This is how the world finally harnesses the power of replay to do maximum good while eliminating all the bad it has brought to sports. Each team gets one challenge. The command center only intervenes on scoring plays and the final two minutes of a game (or the eighth and ninth innings in baseball). And play ball. The strategy will be tremendous and the games will stop being slogs where technology constantly interferes.
Imagine if it had been in place for the Super Bowl. The Eagles had timeouts left when James Bradberry was flagged. They likely would have already burned their challenge to overturn the Miles Sanders non-catch* that was initially a fumble returned by Nick Bolton for a touchdown. But let’s say they didn’t, for whatever reason. You have to imagine Nick Sirianni throws the red hankie out. What does he have to lose? And once he does, do the officials get spooked they just swung the Super Bowl and backpedal?
* — In the real world, that was a catch. Don’t give me the “football move” nonsense. Sanders caught the ball and possessed it for at least one heartbeat. And then lost it. If not for the NFL’s incoherent rule, Bolton is probably Super Bowl MVP.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.