Credit to the XFL for at least trying some different things
The XFL won’t have players worth watching, so the pro football minor league is hoping its tweaks to the rulebook will make you forget how bad the football is.
Some of the rules tweaks make sense: for example, the three-tiered extra point, which eliminates kicks, in favor of a one-point play from the two, a two-point play from the three and a three-point play from the 10.
Also intriguing: the shootout-style overtime, which features single-play possessions from the five, alternating for five plays each, a la soccer.
One more that I like: receivers only have to have one foot inbounds for a catch to be legal.
Among the dumb ideas: a running clock up to the two-minute mark of each half; a series of confusing adjustments on kickoffs and punts that you can be sure the guys on the field will never catch onto; a rule allowing two forward passes on plays, as long as the first pass doesn’t travel past the line of scrimmage.
You get the idea behind those, and the rule allowing offensive linemen to be two yards downfield on pass plays, to encourage more run-pass options.
The XFL is going to give coaches more leeway to be creative in play-calling, at the risk of the game coming across as gimmicky.
The good thing for football fans is that if any of these are good ideas in practice, then, hey, remember how the ABA showed us how the three-point line could open up the game of basketball?
The red, white and blue ball didn’t survive, but the NBA has done OK with threes.
The XFL is unwittingly setting itself up to be a living laboratory for the NFL, which, fine.
It’s ultimately not going to help a league with access to, at best, the No. 2,017-rated pro football player in the world, and on down.
(NFL teams have 53-man active rosters, and can have up to 10 players on their practice squads.)
Credit to the XFL for trying, because straight up, the product would look like the second half of the first week of the NFL exhibition season.
They’re only staving off the inevitable, but, again, they’re trying, and we at least get, I don’t know, the NFL could use more RPOs and less controversy on sideline catches, and the overtime rule sucks, and …
Story by Chris Graham