DC Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton finds XFL play-calling difficult while being mic'd up

Ethan Cadeaux
NBC Sports Washington

One of the more intriguing factors of the newly relaunched XFL is the unparalleled access viewers get throughout the course of the game.

During the league's opening weekend, both head coaches were mic'd up throughout the entire game. What that meant were viewers could hear each coach's play-call as it was being told to the quarterback.

While this feature is appreciated by the millions of viewers that watched the XFL this weekend, it can put both teams at a disadvantage. Opposing teams can simply listen to the broadcast, hear the play call is, then relay that message to their defense. And it's causing one head coach to lose sleep.

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"I've been up overnight trying to change some of the calls," DC Defenders' head coach Pep Hamilton told The Sports Junkies on Monday. "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."

Entering the game, Hamilton knew the mic'd up access would play a factor. But the Defenders head coach did not realize how much of it would be shown until he watched a replay of the live broadcast the next day.

"We knew that would be a factor, but not until I watched the broadcast late [Sunday] night where I said, 'Oh, man. We got to do something different,'" Hamilton said.

While Hamilton is tasked with finding a new way of communicating without giving away the play call, he has no issues with the amount of access viewers are getting. The head coach is fully buying into the process.

"But you know, it's part of it. No issues," Hamilton said. "We'll keep them guessing. I'm thinking this week, if we say 'even' or anything, that may be an automatic vertical pass or something. We have to keep them honest."

Having the coaches mic'd up was just one example of the new broadcast features the XFL is incorporating. Throughout the game, sideline interviews were frequent, including speaking with such players who had just thrown an interception, missed a kick, or fumbled the ball.

Hamilton mentioned that having those interviews with his players was unusual at first, but he's all for it. He reiterated that the relaunched league is all about the fans and giving them a style to watch football in a way they never could before.

"It was different for sure," Hamilton said. "There were times when I asked them to hold off, just for a second, so we could gather our thoughts in between series and communicate directly with the players without giving up too much of it. But it's part of it. It's all about the fans. We want to give the viewers access to professional football in a way they've never had."

And those fans showed up during the XFL's opening weekend. Over 17,000 fans showed up to a sold-out Audi Field to take in history.

"I thought our fans were outstanding," Hamilton said. "I truly felt like we had a home-field advantage. The fans, they gave our players energy. Audi Field, it was electric. To go out and beat up on another football team, it felt great for our guys."

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DC Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton finds XFL play-calling difficult while being mic'd up originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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