By: Jesse Balasus @UncleJesse___
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Welcome everyone, to what I believe is the first XFL article on TheBRKDWN! I’m Jesse and I will be your tour guide throughout the rise (and hopefully not fall) of the latest professional football league, the XFL. Slated to debut the week after the Super Bowl, the XFL has announced time and time again that entertainment is the ultimate goal, and based on the rules announced today, they’re succeeding. As the biggest die-hard St. Louis Battlehawks fan, shoutout to ODU legend Taylor Heinicke, let me walk you through what Commissioner Oliver Luck, (Andrew Luck’s father- potential comeback for Andrew?) announced today.
Oliver Luck and the XFL “listened to the fans” and the fans wanted a faster paced game without the gimmicks. Sadly that means the goodbye of the nicknames on the back of jerseys, (RIP “He Hate Me”) as well as the pregame scrum to decide who gets the ball first.
New XFL Rules
- Kickoffs are designed to discourage touchbacks. Kickoffs will be from the 30 yard-line, and both the coverage and blocking teams will line up at the receiving team’s 35 and 30 yard lines. As an extra attempt to limit injuries, no player can move (except the kick returner) until the ball is either caught, or three seconds after it has hit the ground. Touchbacks will be spotted at the 35 and kicks out of bounds will be spotted at the 45.
- During punts, players cannot leave the line of scrimmage until after the kick. Punts landing in the endzone or out of bounds will be beneficial for the receiving team, as it will be marked at the better field position of the two. The goal for this is to sadly eliminate the coffin corner punt, as well as enticing offenses to go for it on fourth
- Easily my favorite rule for the XFL, teams will have three options for the PAT: a 1 point play from the two yard line, 2 points from the three, or 3 points from the 10. The built in pee break of kicking an extra point has gone by the wayside. Hold it in or invest in some Depends folks.
- Overtime will be an Animorph (arguably one of the best books of the 90’s) style mixture of hockey and college football. Each team will have five tries to score from the five yard line, alternating back and forth. If the game is still tied after five attempts, the shootout will continue until a winner is determined. The XFL expects overtime will be a rare occurrence, as there are multiple PAT options.
- Arguably the most insane, but most entertaining rule; teams will be allowed two forward passes on a single play. The only caveat is the first forward pass can’t pass the line of scrimmage. With this, the XFL wants teams to be encouraged into running more creative plays. No longer are the risks of turning the ball over because of a silly lateral or backwards pass.
- Inherited from college football, players only need one foot in bounds to have possession. Director of Football Operations, Sam Schwartzstein, (you can’t convince me that isn’t a fake name) says not only will this rule make it easier to officiate quickly, it helps with player safety; as players take more unbraced falls trying to land with both feet in bounds.
- There will be nine officials on the field, with one dedicated solely to spotting the ball. (No more index cards to determine a first down *cough* *cough*.) Dean Blandino, XFL’s Head of Officiating, announced most XFL officials will have Division 1 level of experience.
- Going along with the nine on-field officials, there will be a video official that can intervene on significant non-reviewable plays involving player safety, or any calls inside of five minutes left in the fourth quarter. There will still be booth reviews for traditionally reviewable plays.
- With hopes to eliminate penalties on run-pass options, (RPOs) offensive linemen are allowed to move up to two yards downfield on passing plays. A well thought out rule, as RPOs are the current craze in every level of the sport.
- Finally, the XFL hopes games won’t run longer than 2 hours, 45 minutes. To do this, there will be a running clock that won’t stop after incomplete passes or stepping out of bounds, except within the final two minutes of each half. Also, halftime will only be 10 minutes, teams will have two timeouts per half, and no coin tosses. To determine possession, the home team gets to choose to start the game and the visiting team gets to choose to start overtime.
All in all, these rules are very interesting to say the least. The only rule I’m not a fan of is the punting one. The coffin corner punt is one of the more visually compelling plays in football. I’m already excited just thinking about watching the first game of the XFL era, and I know I’m not the only one.
Go Battlehawks, the DC Defenders are trash, Taylor Heinicke will win MVP and set every single XFL record. Lastly, keep your eyes peeled for a potential XFL podcast from us at TheBRKDWN.