By: Anthony Vieira, Jr.
As the National Football League turns the page to Week 7, one team is still looking for answers to what happened back in Week 6. The Detroit Lions—notorious for losing big games due to questionable officiating—lost another, this time 22-23 to the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football. A missed pass interference foul against the Packers, coupled with two egregious calls against Lions defensive end Trey Flowers helped seal Detroit’s fate. And, as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing far too often, the NFL has since acknowledged the mistakes made by its officials during this game.
With penalty flags and blunders by the officials a major topic of discussion in recent years, the XFL would be wise to take notes; it should look to capitalize on the NFL’s mistakes. Ask any sports fan what they dislike most about the game of football and there’s a good chance you’ll hear one of these words: flags, refs, penalties, zebras. If the XFL—which just wrapped up its draft for the 2020 season—hopes to interest NFL consumers, it’s going to need to take the spotlight off of the officials and redirect it to the players, which can help pave the way for it becoming a viable alternative league.
Now, let me be clear: I’m not suggesting the XFL is anywhere close to competing with the NFL at its current stage, but a successful 2020 season would certainly be a step in the right direction. And, if you’re a fan of professional football, you should be rooting heavily for the XFL’s success. Why? Because competition forces businesses to do what it takes to be #1. No one knows that better than Vince McMahon—the owner of the XFL—through his many battles in what was known as the Monday Night War. As the owner of WWE, Vince McMahon went head-to-head with archrival WCW from 1995-2001 and ultimately came out on top. That period was widely seen as the best era of professional wrestling and it was a direct result of the intense competition between the two companies.
The NFL has been such an undisputed icon of professional sports for so long that I believe it sometimes takes its fans for granted. The high number of penalty flags and shaky officiating has undoubtedly affected the on-field product in recent years, but the thinking is always “What else am I going to watch?”
Well, if the NFL had legitimate competition from the XFL, you can bet it would solve all of these issues in a heartbeat.