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What I Learned – XFL: Seattle Dragons coach Jim Zorn shocked play calls were heard live

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You’re not in the NFL anymore, JimOne of the more intriguing aspects of the XFL—which doesn’t stand a chance of coming to the NFL—is how fans are given access to coaches’ play calls in real time. When a coach gives a play to a quarterback, that audio is fed through to the broadcast so you can hear that the offensive team is about to run “odd wiz, Z poster” or something. It’s unintelligible nonsense to most viewers, but a good color commentator will translate it into English. And if you’ve played enough Madden to recognize a few of the terms, it makes you feel like a genius. That radical bit of transparency was news to Seattle Dragons head coach Jim Zorn, who was seen on the sideline during his team’s debut game covering his mouth with his play sheet so no one could read his lips, apparently unaware that you didn’t need to be a lipreader to know what he was saying. Sure enough, Zorn had no idea his play calls were being broadcast to the world in real time. He told Scott Hanson of the Seattle Times that he was “absolutely shocked” to learn it was being broadcast live. “I think it gave a fan a chance to hear and see something they’ve never heard before, but I felt very exposed,” Zorn said. “Information on a football team has to be guarded a little bit, so we just got it right out there. I know it had to be fun for everybody, but not super fun for me to reveal all that stuff. But I was glad I didn’t stutter or fumble the play calls.”Similarly, DC Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton said he knew his calls would be heard on the broadcast but didn’t realize it would be used so often until he watched a replay of the game himself. “I’ve been up overnight trying to change some of the calls,” Hamilton said earlier this week on a Washington radio show. “I think everybody in D.C. knows by know that ‘even’ is [running] to the right and ‘odd’ is to the left. So 3.3 million people know whether we’re running to the right or running to the left.”The abundance of terminology and how that terminology varies from team to team is part of what can make football so inscrutable to the average fan. What the XFL is doing by taking fans behind the scenes like this is to really help the game feel less mysterious. You can not only see a play develop after the snap, but also get a sense of how it came together in the huddle. From the limited amount of XFL action I watched last weekend, it was easily my part.But while other changes to the game introduced by the XFL, like the adjusted kickoff and the transparent replay process, seem possible or even likely to be adopted by the NFL, there’s no chance in hell Bill Belichick or Sean McVay would consent to having his plays sent out to the entire world. NFL coaches guard those sorts of things like state secrets. The best of SIThursday’s disastrous press conference was another missed opportunity by the Astros to apologize sincerely. … A public relations expert analyzes where the Astros went wrong. … Megan Youngren is making history this weekend as the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials. … Albert Breer surveyed NFL front office members to ask which available quarterback (in the draft or free agency) they’d most like to have.Around the sports worldTristan Thompson claims LeBron has a truly abysmal diet. … A Rhode Island couple traveled all the way to England for a Manchester City game only for it to be canceled by extreme weather. … Myles Garrett reiterated his accusation that Mason Rudolph’s use of a racial slur sparked the ugly incident that got him suspended indefinitely. … A podcast and TV series about the Astros scandal are in the works. … A linebacker at Eastern Kentucky was arrested after lifting a police officer up over his head. … Ted “Million Dollar Man” DiBiase got $2 million from the state of Mississippi to help run his nonprofit religious wrestling organization.No lies spottedRemember when a TV station in Pittsburgh did the same thing for Tom Brady and the guy responsible for the graphic got fired?Steven Adams might be my favorite NBA playerThis is legitimately one of the greatest shootout goals I’ve ever seenNot bad, eitherFerocious block by ZionJayson Tatum is blowing up this yearWhat a shot to force a second overtimeNever change, BillThat’s a hell of a coincidenceGood job by Joel Sherman (the guy in the sunglasses) to press the new Astros GM hereSome of the players in this game are three years old right nowHe kicked him with his skate!Baseball is back!Poetry in motionNot sportsA woman in Canada found a frog living inside of a whole bell pepper she bought at the grocery store. … A Russian director is filming the world’s first vertically oriented movie, optimized for smartphone viewing. … Season 2 of Narcos: Mexico drops today on Netflix.Tough but fairThis is a Mario Kart moveThis guy has too much time on his handsA good songEmail dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.


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