For a second year in a row, the prospect of Spring football is upon us.
From the mind that brings you the best in sports entertainment comes reimagined birth of the Xtreme Football League. Vince McMahon will try to deliver a product that captures the hearts of slumbering football fans still fat off of a Mahomes championship. I for one am excited to see what the league can do.
Before we embark on opening weekend we must first familiarize ourselves with the new rules.
I like the attempt by XFL officials to try and evaluate everything that pisses off NFL fans and to improve upon it in some way, It is yet to be seen if these changes will actually improve the beautiful game of pigskin but for now, let’s dive into what’s in store.
KICKING AND PUNTING
Love it! Returns, returns, returns…. unlike my April tax day forecast, the XFL is hoping for a sharp increase in returns in the kicking variety compared to the NFL. Let it be a return to glory for kick returners within the sport.
Kickers will kick off from their own 30-yard line. The rest of the kicking team will line on the opposite end of the field at the opposing 35-yard line. The receiving team will have blockers five yards away at the 30-yard line. No sprinting head starts, no cheap blind-side blocks, no heat-seeking missile type plays. Just 15 feet separate the blockers of each team.
Before the kick-off, the kicker and receiver can move around. All other personnel on the field must be stationary until the ball is caught or for three seconds after the ball has landed on the ground. Kicks that sail out of bounds or that fail to reach the 20-yard line will result in a penalty and the receiving team starting at their own 45-yard line.
Punting will work a bit differently. Punting teams are prohibited from crossing the line of scrimmage before the ball is punted. Touchbacks will result in the ball starting at the receiving team’s 35-yard line. Out of bound punts will also start at the 35-yard line or wherever the ball goes out before then.
The NFL is insistent on making kickoffs go extinct on the basis of improving player safety. While that can be seen as admirable they are severely limiting a portion of the entertainment value. This is coming from a Devin Hester enthusiast going back to his U days. Let the players return it! Hopefully these XFL modifications lead to plenty of touchdowns taken to the house.
Who knew that determining what a catch is would be on par with solving the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. It is the year 2020 and the NFL has not established clear and concise guidelines to instruct officials how to determine if a receiver has maintained possession. We will have to get it on the Nobel Peace Prize radar. In the meantime, lets take a look at what the XFL has decided.
To catch a ball means that a player:
- Secures control of a live ball in flight before the ball touches the ground
- Touches the ground in bounds with any part of his body, and then
- Maintains control of the ball long enough to enable him to perform an act common to the game (ex. long enough to pitch or hand the ball, advance it, avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.)
Very clear, very concise. If you are a receiver just track the ball in your hands and make sure that some part of your body touches in bounds. Maybe the zebras will find a away to make this challenging but as of right now the letter of the law sounds sufficient enough.
I don’t actually have any problems with the NFL scoring format but the XFL is marketing itself as a high scoring, offensively driven league so it is worth mentioning the score rules. This has serious fantasy football implications when the league begins.
The XFL has elected to remove the extra point after touchdowns. Instead, teams will have options between 1, 2, and 3 point conversions starting at the 2, 5, and 10 yard-lines respectively. This, in turn, will give birth to the first ever 9-point touchdown. Wait until the boomers get a hold of that. 3 points for a field goal will still live on.
The Overtime format closely resembles the college football rules in that both team’s offense will have an opportunity at possession. Each team will have five attempts at a 2-point conversion starting at the 5-yard line. The team at the end of all five attempts will get the win. Defending teams cannot score on any turnover during overtime. Not all attempts are necessary. If a team clinches the win early then the remaining attempts become unnecessary and the game will end.
Similar to the “last licks” rule in baseball the home team will always have the second attempt opportunity. I feel as though the overtime rules allow for a nice home field advantage where your home team is never out of it until the last play. When I am 10 deep at Metlife Stadium cheering on the New York Guardians I’ll remember that heartbreak won’t happen until the very last possible moment.
Give the XFL an opportunity at redemption this time around. What could you possibly have to lose
We are in a pretty significant dead period in sports right before March Madness and Spring Training. The NBA is close to its All-Star break and I’m sure most of the players are thinking about vacation.
But you the fan deserve something more.
You deserve the wonderful possibility of meaningful football in the spring. It won’t be pretty come Saturday but it will come fast. These rules are practically begging for high scoring offenses to take over and score at will. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen a touchdown I didn’t like. Scoring is cool.
I will be betting every over humanly possible this weekend. If by chance none of them hit and this league folds after opening week then lets hope the NFL ruling committee has the wherewithal to steal these rules because they will be better for it.