Welcome, football fans, to the latest attempt at establishing a spring football league. Whilst it may not be a new idea, the XFL does have some potential to succeed, capitalizing on a well established market of NFL and NCAA fans to provide a new outlet for both the bored general public and college athletes who couldn’t make the cut in the NFL.
Hoping to one day rival/outpace/supplement/merge with the NFL, see below for the complete rundown on everything that you need to know in order to say: “I’ve been here since day 1! Bandwagon’s full, losers”, as your team triumphs in the XFL Championship Game and goes for McDonald’s afterwards.
For those old enough (and desperate enough) to remember the original XFL, this is a gentle reminder that, whilst technically a reboot of that failed 1-season experiment, the new XFL is family oriented. Gone are the days of the WWE, where sex and blood ruled the sport, because this second attempt is a far more NFL-style league. There are a few minor rule changes:
- Receivers only need 1 foot in bounds for a catch to be ruled, like the college game.
- Double-forward passes are allowed, when the ball hasn’t crossed the line of scrimmage yet.
- The play clock will be 25 seconds, to speed the game up.
- The game clock only stops within the final 2 minutes, regardless of the result of plays (excluding changes of posession) to avoid excessive clock management.
- The last 2 minutes are the designated ‘comeback period’, where all the plays result in a clock stoppage. The clock begins again after both the ball is spotted and 5 seconds are run off the play clock.
- Teams are allowed only 2 timeouts per half, to keep the game moving.
The kickoff rules have changed significantly:
- Kickoffs must be kicked from the kicking teams 25-yard line, but the coverage unit must line up at the opposing 35-yard line.
- The return unit must line up 5 yards away, at the 30-yard line, and the returner resides within the end zone or as far up as the 20-yard line.
- The ball must be kicked within the end zone or the 20-yard line, and touchbacks are placed at the 35 yard-line.
- The kicker and returner are the only players who may move before the ball is caught.
The punting rules are similarly altered to make 4th-down conversion attempts more appealing:
- Punts into the end zone (or out of bounds within the 35 yards of the end zone) are marked at the 35-yard line.
- Players cannot move until the ball is punted.
The extra point rules will incur significant change in the scoring format:
- Kicking is eliminated. It is replaced by 1, 2, and 3-point conversions.
- The 1-point conversion is a single attempt from the 2-yard line.
- The 2-point conversion is a single attempt from the 3-yard line.
- The 3-point conversion is a single attempt from the 10-yard line.
Overtime rule changes mimic a soccer-style shootout:
- Each team takes alternating attempts from the 5-yard line to score, with scores counting for 2 points. Whichever team scores the most of their 5 attempts wins the game.
Comprised of 2 separate 4-team conferences, the XFL mimics the NFL in it’s league and playoff format, though admittedly on a smaller scale. The Western Conference is comprised of the following teams: The Seattle Dragons, Los Angeles Wildcats, Houston Roughnecks, and Dallas Renegades.
The Eastern Conference is made up of: The D.C. Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, and Tampa Bay Vipers. The 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference travels to the 1st seed in the East and the same occurs in the West for single-elimination playoffs.
The winners will go on to play each other in the XFL Championship Game, hosted by the highest remaining seed. Top 2 seeds in each conference face off in single elimination playoffs. The winners play each other in the XFL championship game.
Here’s a quick rundown of each new team, take your pick! Let’s start with the Western Conference.
The Dallas Renegades, coached and managed by Bob Stoops, are coming out of Arlington, Texas. Playing in Globe Life Park, they look to be a popular spring supplement to the wildly famous Dallas Cowboys.
Notable Players: QB Landry Jones, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, CB Josh Thornton.
June Jones left the Grey Cup-contending Hamilton Tiger Cats in order to try his hand at running the Houston Roughnecks. Expect this GM/HC to compete for fans who were left unsatisfied with Houston football this January. Playing in TDECU Stadium, the Texans aren’t the only team in town any more.
Notable Players: QB Connor Cook, DE Kony Ealy, S Trae Elston.
Los Angeles Wildcats
Winston Moss holds the power for this team, but in a crowded (and disappoing) Los Angeles football market, will there be room? Find out this spring as the Wildcats look to defend Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Notable Players: QB Josh Johnson, RB Elijah Hood, DE Shawn Oakman, LB Taiwan Jones, K Nick Novak.
This team’s GM/HC is Jim Zorn, and he looks to compete against the rest of the West at the helm of the Seattle Dragons. The Seahawks are sharing their home field with this new pro franchise, given the springtime openings at CenturyLink Field in the Seattle.
Notable Players: RB Kenneth Farrow, WR Austin Proehl, LB Kyle Quiero.
Now, onto the Eastern Conference:
Pep Hamilton’s DC Defenders look to – well – defend. They share Audi field with the MLS’ D.C. United, locking down the competition in Washington, scooping up all this miserable Redskins fans and giving them a second chance at football glory.
Notable Players: QB Cardale Jones, QB Tyree Jackson, TE Khari Lee, WR Rashad Ross.
New York Guardians
The New York Guardians are lucky to have an experienced NFL leader in Kevin Gilbride, who ended his 6-year retirement after 10 years with the New York Giants to return to the game. Unfortunately for them they play in Metlife Stadium, New Jersey: meaning there’s still only 1 team in New York.
Notable Players: TE Jake Powell, LT Jarron Jones, RB Tim Cook, CB Jamar Summers.
St. Louis BattleHawks
That right, fans; there’s football in St. Louis once more. The only team here not to share a city with an NFL team, the BattleHawks hold the entirety of the Chargers fanbase in their grasp. Expect more fans than Philip Rivers has kids at this team’s home games in The Dome At America’s Centre. Former NFL TE and coach Jonathan Hayes will be leading this team in it’s inaugural season.
Notable Players: QB Taylor Heinicke, WR Keith Mumphery, DT Davonte Lambert.
Tampa Bay Vipers
Marc Trestman returns to coaching after a wild career that took him from the NCAA, to the NFL, to the CFL, back to the NFL, the CFL again, and now here. Having made the playoffs in every year of his career until 2018, Vipers fans can be excited to watch this season in Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Notable Players: QB/RB Quinton Flowers, WR Antonio Callaway, DE Bobby Richardson, DE CeCe Jefferson.
How To Watch
Fox currently owns the broadcasting rights to the XFL, but they aren’t the only ones covering it. You can find every game televised nationally on either Fox, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, or FS2. For full scheduling and to find where to watch every game, see the XFL website. The season kicks off February 8th, so there’s only 1 question remaining: Who you got?