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Volume 22 No. 31
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Five areas the XFL can exploit

While Vince McMahon was adamant that the new XFL will not compete with the NFL in any way, here are five areas of perceived weakness that the new league can exploit.

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1. Anthem kneeling: The most divisive issue in the NFL this season dealt with player protests during the national anthem. The issue was vilified by the White House, and bemoaned by owners. McMahon already has said that social issues will not be given a voice during his games.

2. Player conduct: From Ray Rice to Aaron Hernandez to Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL has had its share of off-field problems. And Commissioner Roger Goodell has caught flak for how he adjudicates those problems. McMahon’s position is much simpler: “We’re not going to bring anybody in who has any arrest records.”

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3. Length of games: The NFL averages much more than three hours per game. McMahon believes shorter games will help it attract a younger audience that is not used to focusing its attention on one topic for so long. McMahon will be relentless in making XFL games faster.

4. Too many rules: Nobody seems to know anymore what constitutes a catch in the NFL. Sometimes a clear fumble isn’t a fumble. A flag flies on just about every special teams play. McMahon wants to get back to the era of where rules were simplified and easier to understand.

5. Dropping TV ratings: U.S. publications have been littered with stories of the NFL’s television ratings drops over the past two years. While those games still provide the biggest audiences in television — by far — the ratings declines suggest that some fans are turning away from the NFL. McMahon hopes they will find the XFL to be a credible alternative.

— John Ourand