BIG Roundtable: The return of the XFL!

posted by iHeartMedia Sports Staff - 

Our iHeartMedia sports personalities had the opportunity to react to the news that the XFL is back, in 2020. Because we needed something to do, we reacted appropriately to this news:

While Vince McMahon says it won't be gimmicky like the old XFL, it still has us thinking of the old league, and we wanted to offer our thoughts on the upstart competitor to the NFL. Spoiler alert: We want crazy! Without further ado, our BIG Roundtable.

What rule or tweak should exist in the new XFL that will draw in fans?

Jon Arias, Host of The Rundown with Jon Arias and Mike Heller Show producer: I like that they're trying for a 2 hour game. I would get rid of kickoffs and extra points. One foot in bounds and go to college style OT. Ultimately I don't think any tweaks will get viewers.

Mike Pilch, Badgers Sports Network Host and News/Sports Anchor: How about clear definition of rules that exist, such as what a catch is, and some magical way to have less plays reviewed and have the ones that are reviewed quicker.  The stoppage in play for reviewing plays so often drags games on forever.

Armen Saryan, Producer/Host of the Drew Olson Show: Why not end replay? It might sound silly on the face, but I think most of the reasons that football becomes less watchable is because of this. People frustrated with the rules because they are dissected so much, over-flagged games, and long delays.

Mitch "Thunder" Nelles, Host of the "It's ALL Thunder!" podcast and Big 920 contributor: Field goals over 50 yards should 5 points… teams can then LOSE yards on purpose, to try for a 5-pointer. Touchdowns of 50+ yards should be 7 points, not 6. More scoring options keep things more interesting.


Spenser Williams, The Big 920 sports reporter and producer: The XFL should make this an Arena Football League, I think it would make it much more successful and you could put it in more cities that way.

Jimmie Kaska, Voice of the Tecmo Super Bowl World Championship: Having called a million semi-pro games in my life (not an exaggeration), anything that eliminates blowouts works for me. That's why I like the idea of scripted games, because you can write out a boring, 77-0 ass-kicking.

Pete Knutson, Voice of UW-Stout athletics and Northwoods League Broadcaster of the Year: It sounds like the league is already adopting a "You must stand during the National Anthem" rule and in an election year (2020) when the league is set to start, that could be an interesting ploy that could certainly rile up fans when I'm sure people will be highly polarized over issues of nationalism and patriotism.

Maybe instead of the running 15 yards to grab the ball instead of a coin flip to see who gets to receive the ball first (we know that ended in a player dislocating his shoulder on the first night of the league), each team could select one WWE wrestler and whoever's wrestler can bench press the most weight wins the toss? Steel cage match? Ladder match? The possibilities are endless. Maybe if you're concussed you have to stay in the game rather than go through concussion protocol? I can't imagine in the age of concussion protocols and all the science on brain injury that the XFL will be able to get away with any of the alternate rules they did when the league first came out. I would think they'd have lawsuit after lawsuit to deal with for a long time to come.

In all seriousness, Vince McMahon is king of distraction, publicity stunts, and he and the President are good buddies. This seems to me to be some sort of a stunt by McMahon to get Donald Trump back into ownership of a football franchise when he's done being President. Trump has owned a football franchise before (see the USFL) and he ran that team and league into the ground. It seems to me this could be an opportunity for him and Vince to get back into owning a pro football franchise and trying to drive up reality TV style ratings. I submit to you, Wrestlemania 23 (which I attended at Ford Field):

Brad Berg, Sports Producer for The Big 1070: The scrum for possession at the beginning of the game was fun. The trenches should be an all out war. Use sensors that know where the line of scrimmage is. Put them on all. Anything outside of 3 yds is subject to a flag. Offsides and false starts are eliminated.

Joel Finkelman, Lucas in the Morning producer and Host of "The Finkelcast" podcast: Instead of trying to improve football... how about this league just steers right into what professional football is. A blood sport. Own it. Make players sign waivers and let them roam free. Legally allow announcers to say the word 'concussion' in the booth. Don’t let them wear pads if you you think that’ll bring in the “I watch NASCAR for the crashes” base. I don’t care, just own up to what it actually is.

Mike Sullivan, WBA Hall of Fame Sports BroadcasterGet rid of all safety measures… kick-off from the 20… eliminate flags.

Josh Albrecht, "Intern Josh" on the Drew Olson Show: It should be the focus for ideas on player safety. The biggest downfall for the NFL right now is losing their star players to injury. If someone has an idea on how to keep players safe without greatly impacting the level of play I say try it in the XFL! Less pads? Sure! No helmet? Okay! Use of tables, ladders, and chairs? Of course! It's the XFL, take a chance.


If you could start an alternate professional league, what would it be and why?

Knutson: I like the idea that the NBA had this past year of the Big3 league with former NBA stars playing 3 on 3. I think you could do something similar with hockey and maybe even with the NFL having a flag football league for retired players. Tennis & golf have done this for years with the Champions tours and Senior PGA. Everyone likes to see their former sports heroes near the game again and getting another chance to see them would be fun. Could you imagine how fun it would be to see a flag football league with Brett Favre gun-slinging to Jerry Rice?

Berg: A Pros vs Joes style league. So often you hear about former players that still want to be involved. Put some fans and former NBA stars at Miller Park and have them face off in a 5 inning game and/or a home run derby.

Thunder: Basketball, for sure… I love the old MTV game, with a 4-pt spot on the floor. Dunks only worth 1 point. An assist is worth 1 point on the scoreboard – leads to better passing.

Armen: Basketball is probably the most likely, and even now you have the gimmick leagues (3-on-3) - but lets start a pro league for some niche Olympic sports. I can't believe people would only want to see competitive ping pong and competitive trampoline every four years!

Intern Josh: As a bowler I'm a little biased, but bowling used to be so popular and I think it just became too boring to watch. So maybe they should take a few pages out of the movie Baseketball and allow the other team or opponent to make distractions thus creating a defense in bowling. Same concept could work for golf.

Finkelman: I would start a televised curling league where drinking on the ice was not only encouraged... but mandatory. All participants would HAVE to have a beer in their hands at all time. The rest will figure itself out. Also, John Schuster is banned from competing. Those are the rules! IT HAS BEEN DECIDED!

Kaska: I have called some odd sports in my life, worthy of ESPN The Ocho, from lawn games to pickup basketball to eSports. What we really need in America is a competitive eating circuit. We have Man vs. Food, we have the hotdog thing... let's combine it. Man (or Woman) vs Man (or Woman)... vs Food. Make it a competition!

Arias: I wouldn't. I don't think a new league could ever competitive with the established pro leagues that exist.

Pilch: Bikini trampoline jumping.

Sullivan: Co-Ed Naked Chess … I would get FANTASTIC RATINGS!!

What would be on the back of your XFL jersey?

Pilch: Nothing, I wouldn’t want to admit I ever played in the XFL.

Kaska: My flag football jersey has "Captain Waffles McFlipFlop" on the back of it so that.

jerseyThunder: THUNDER (too easy) – with a little lightning bolt after Thunder… ⚡

Brad: Undoubtedly it would be “Beerad”

Arias: "Hey Fellas What's Up?" but if that's too long just "Hey Fellas"

Armen: Big Armenian Pickle

Knutson: It has to be a wrestling catchphrase: "It doesn't matter what your name is!"

Intern Josh: “BIG AND SLOW”

Finkelman: I mean... obviously “The Doctor”... which works in more ways than one because I’m clearly able to diagnose a concussion on the field better than the “independent neurologists” who are literally paid six figures a year to do it from the sideline.


Photo: Getty Images

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