The XFL is getting a second crack at producing a strong alternative to the NFL. They are making the most of the opportunity and introducing some interesting changes.
According to ESPN's Kevin Seifert, the XFL is making "more than two dozen changes" to their rulebook, which will be unveiled later this week. Among the items that will be altered are a running clock, three-tiered point-after attempts and single-play overtime possessions.
"What we did is listen to fans," XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said. "And what they told us is that they love this game, but they would like it at a little more of a faster pace and with a little more excitement. They thought there is too much idle time. We tried to listen to what they didn't want, also.
"They didn't want gimmicks or things that were inauthentic. They also didn't want to be complicit when it comes to player safety. So what we wanted to do is take a great game and make it a little better."
The league calendar is just getting underway this week with training camp for the eight XFL teams. The season will begin on Feb. 8 with the Seattle Dragons taking on the DC Defenders and the Los Angeles Wildcats facing the Houston Roughnecks.
Some of the larger rule changes will be from the special teams area of the game:
- During punts, players can't leave the line of scrimmage until after the punter kicks the ball away, so there won't be any blocks.
- Punts that go into the end zone or out of play will be spotted at the 35-yard line or wherever the ball lands out of bounds. The concept of fair catches and pinning the opposition down deep are being eliminated with this type of rule.
- On point-after attempts following a touchdown a team will have three options: a one-point play from the 2-yard line, a two-point play from the 3-yard line, or a three-point play from the 10-yard line.
Like college football, players will only be required to have one foot in bounds to establish possession on catches. The XFL believes that will make the game easier to officiate and won't lead to long reviews.
Finally, a shootout-style overtime period will be put in place where each team will get five single-play possessions from the 5-yard line. If the game remains tied, teams will rotate possessions until someone comes away victorious.
It appears that the XFL is trying to put out a high-octane, exciting product that football fans will gravitate towards. These rule changes should certainly make for an interesting game and could get fans to tune in early on.