The XFL is branding itself as ‘Football Reimagined.’ It is also looking at ideas it can reimagine the way the game is officiated. Including a new “tap” rule that sends players to the sideline.
The XFL has partnered with The Spring League, to become its testing ground of ideas and rulebook changes. One approach is using a device that allows an official to “tap” a player who has done something wrong but does not rise to the level of a penalty flag.
It will be purely an optional call by the official, aimed at defusing a situation rather than slowing the game down with a penalty flag. The “tap” would be used when the infraction doesn’t “significantly impact” the play. An example would be, holding on an offensive lineman who is on the other side of the field, away from the play. The “tap” penalty would apply only to one play, and the player would run off the field. After the play, the coach can put the player back on the field of play or keep them out.
Ultimately, it’s designed to keep the game moving and reduce the number of flags. Penalty flags, no matter how justified they may be, tend to irritate fans. This is very prevalent in NFL games and will make this rule a welcome change for fans. The ‘tap’ rule is one of many XFL rule changes they are testing before games begin in February of 2020.