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Looking Back at 2020: Favorite Rules Innovation

St. Louis BattleHawks DB Joe Powell (44) records the first special-teams TD in XFL history. (Photo by Scott Rovak/XFL via Getty Images)

The XFL season ended early, but the league has pledged to return in 2021. 

With eyes on the past and future,’s Art Garcia and Pat Yasinskas discussed various topics from the 2020 debut via email.

Rules Innovation | Biggest Surprise | Interview | Gameday


PAT YASINSKAS: Art, much was made about the rules that were different than the NFL. Overall, I thought they were a big success.

My personal favorite was the use of replay. Every play was reviewable, and television cameras were allowed inside the replay booth.

That provided viewers with the opportunity to see different angles and, more importantly, the chance to hear the replay official talk through the play.

It was enlightening and fast. All replays took less than four minutes. Most were reviewed in 60-90 seconds. Most importantly, almost every call was correct. The NFL would be wise to adopt a similar system.

Art, what was your favorite rules innovation?

ART GARCIA: Pat, don't get me wrong, I'm firmly in the replay camp, too. Getting the call right and doing it fast is a win-win for fans, players and coaches.

When it comes to my fave rules tweak, I gravitate toward changes on the field of play. The kickoff and point-after attempts stand out.

When push comes to tackle, give me the kickoff. In an age when so few kickoffs lead to actual returns, my eyes perk up anytime a returner actually gets to do something.

And if my team gets a return out past the 40, I'm stoked. That's a huge momentum-starter in my book, with the defense immediately on its heels. Same goes for pinning a team deep after a bobbled catch or poor return angle.

As far as a touchdown return? Fuggedaboutit. Ultimate gut punch.

For reasons that made sense, namely safety, football today had pretty much scripted out the return. The XFL brought it back in a way that respected players' health and allowed for one of the game's unique features.

Kickoffs are exciting again, allowing coaches a chance to be creative with returns and letting athletes make plays. Other levels of football would be smart to adopt the XFL model.

Rules Innovation | Biggest Surprise | Interview | Gameday