Unlike the NFL, the XFL has full transparency when it comes to officiating. Unlike the NFL, the XFL is willing to freely admit its mistakes.
In a refreshing (except for Seattle fans) statement issued after Saturday’s games between the Seattle Dragons and the Houston Roughnecks, the XFL admitted that an officiating error robbed the Dragons of a chance to tie a game that Houston led by nine. Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker had taken a knee on fourth down at his own 23 with time on the clock. The officials ruled that the clock had expired.
“Saturday’s Seattle Dragons-Houston Roughnecks game should not have ended as it did,” the XFL announced on Twitter. “Replays showed clearly that the knee of Houston quarterback P.J. Walker touched the field, rendering him ‘down’ and the fourth-down play officially completed, with approximately two seconds remaining on the clock — effectively turning the ball over to Seattle on downs. With a nine-point differential in the score, Seattle was denied an opportunity to tie the game. The XFL sincerely regrets this error.
“In addition, Wes Booker, who served as officiating supervisor for Saturday’s game, has been reassigned.”
Booker, as part of the XFL’s transparency, spoke on camera at the end of the game. He provided a thoroughly unconvincing explanation for the failure to bring back the teams and run one play from the Houston 23.
“Yes, it should be two seconds left,” Booker told ESPN’s Steve Levy. “We had determined that the game was over. And we went back and looked at in replay, but it was already — the game was already over, so there’s nothing we could do to get everybody corralled back.”
Levy was having none of it.
“Why is that?” he said. “I mean, everybody’s still here. The officials just ran off the field. That could make all the difference in a team’s season. One play from the 23.”
“Yes it can, but we’ll see,” Booker said. “I’ll see right here what we can do, but the game, we said this game is over and the game is over.”
The game definitely is over for Booker; whatever “reassigned” means, he likely won’t be serving as an XFL officiating supervisor anytime soon. And even though the admission from the XFL won’t change the outcome of the game, at least folks like Seattle coach Jim Zorn will get the sliver of satisfaction that comes from the XFL’s honesty and candor.
Of all the things the NFL could learn from the XFL, this is perhaps the most important lesson.