XFL Changes the Rule So Head Coaches Can Challenge Every Game: Will NFL Follow?

The NFL has long debated giving head coaches the right to contest any game, but proposals to that effect — backed by Patriots coach Bill Belichick — failed the owners’ vote. The concept now faces a real-world test in the XFL, which announced the rule in a call Wednesday with ESPN and the XFL previewing the spring league’s 10-week regular season, which begins Saturday. Here are the new rules:

  • Trainers can challenge any game.
  • All recheck communications between the command center and on-field officials are available for transmission.
  • Teams are allowed to have 15 coach-to-player comms devices in helmets and this audio is available for broadcast.
  • Gambling odds are integrated into the points box on TV.


Alternate football leagues are often proving grounds for developments that will come later in the NFL. The first USFL employed an immediate retry before coming to the NFL, as well as draft eligibility three years away from college instead of four. The NFL’s use of Hawkeye for playback followed the second XFL’s use of the technology.

“One of the things I know that I’m most excited about and intrigued about is that we’re giving our coaches the opportunity to challenge everything, once per game, it’s an all-in challenge every decision officiating,” said Dean Blandino, the XFL’s associate vice president, who previously held that post in the NFL. “If a coach still has a time-out, he can appeal that decision. And that, that’s never happened in football before, and something that we talked about during my time in the NFL.”

The coaches have no other challenges. Blandino will run a command center that will handle all other checks (there is only one game at a time during the XFL season).

Unlike the NFL, which limits coach-player communications to one on defense and one on offense, the XFL will limit the number to 15. As with replay, this audio is available for broadcast.

The XFL and ESPN tend to gamble, with betting odds and over-under displayed alongside the score and clock.

“We’re going to talk very aggressively about sports betting during the game,” said Bryan Jaroch, ESPN’s soccer coordinating producer.

(Photo: Maria Lysaker / USA Today)

https://theathletic.com/4206644/2023/02/15/xfl-replay-challenge-nfl/ XFL Changes the Rule So Head Coaches Can Challenge Every Game: Will NFL Follow?

Russell Falcon

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