The NFL has the best football product in the world. So instead of competing with the NFL at its own game and losing again, Vince McMahon and the XFL decided to do something that the NFL has never done and if you ask me, aside from some quirky rule changes, it’s what helped the NFL generate 3.3 million viewers in its first week and peaked at 4 million.
DC Defenders def. Seattle Dragons (31 – 19)
Houston Roughnecks def. L.A. Wildcats (37 – 17)
New York Guardians def. Tampa Bay Vipers (23 – 3)
St. Louis BattleHawks def. Dallas Renegades (15 – 9)
The quality of play was decent, but that’s not why fans are tuning in to watch the XFL.
What the NFL Doesn’t Have
Live, on the field interviews with players after they either perform great as Cardale Jones did — or fail miserably like the special teams player who botched a perfect punt by touching the ball and booting it into the endzone during the BattleHawks vs. Renegades game.
When a sideline reporter can just run down to the field and interview a player after a game-changing play and get his immediate emotional reaction in a one-on-one interview, it’s an element of reality TV that the NFL doesn’t have.
We see coaches get interviewed at halftime and prior to the game, we might see players interviewed, but rarely.
XFL player: *makes a mistake*
the sideline reporters on their way to immediately interview them: pic.twitter.com/UrH7w7w2s8
— kathleen (@kathleen_hanley) February 8, 2020
We definitely don’t get the instant reaction as we got from the punt wrecker.
“I thought he touched it, so I tried to get on the ball before he got on the ball and it went into the endzone.”
That’s classic stuff right there. Who knew what he was going to say? I was at the edge of my seat waiting for him to start dropping mega F-bombs or something.
Missing a field goal will get you an instant on-field rap session as well.
XFL Offensive Lineman gets interviews, immediately drops an f-bomb. pic.twitter.com/XjIVTr8lAl
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 8, 2020
Therein lies the beauty of the XFL. It’s a more intimate and cozy league even though it’s less familiar to the masses.
Live Interviews & Social Media Fuel XFL
With the advent of social media, the world is smaller and the league does have a shot to succeed because it can reach so many people quickly and it’s building a fanbase in the various cities already.
As the season heats up, these on spot interviews are going to be what drives the league, creates personalities and connects with the NFL football fan.
I’m a DC Defender’s fan because of Cardale Jones. XFL
— 💜🧡 Josh G☀️T Juice 🧡💜 (@JoshGotJuice_) February 10, 2020
Some folks would have given an arm to be able to see what a young Tom Brady thought immediately after the play that led to the Tuck Rule and sparked his Hall of fame career. Or what Lawrence Taylor had to say right after his hit on Joe Theisman shattered the quarterback’s leg and ended his Hall of fame career.
The XFL has that element and for that, the league deserves a hand, because it made NFL Week 1 very intriguing and it even covered up some sloppy offensive play that will improve as the teams get sharper and the stakes get higher.