The relaunch of the XFL was announced back in early 2018. The first games were finally played on February 8th of this year. This new version of the league is substantially different from the version we saw at the beginning of the millennium.
This new iteration is different as it mostly seems to emulate the NFL. However, it tries to make some quality of life changes that the NFL lacks.
In general, the overall product for the viewer is substantially different from the NFL. For example, one of the XFL’s main focuses is on transparency for the viewers. Because of this, the referees, players, and people in the review booth wear microphones. You are able to hear everything that is going on. There are no secrets.
The NFL’s referees often have conversations with each other that fans cannot hear. This leads to some conspiracy among fans regarding referee bias. The XFL allows fans to hear everything the refs say to each other.
The replays done in the NFL are often private. This prevents the fans from understanding the thought process going into the decision. The XFL lets fans gather insight into how the refs and replay booth decide results of plays.
Lastly, the XFL gives more access to player marketability by allowing sideline interviews at any time. Since everyone has microphones, it is much easier to get interviews. This gives players the opportunity to explain plays, explain strategy, or just put there personality on display for the public.
There have been several complaints and studies to prove the danger of NFL kickoffs. Having defenders run full-speed into defenseless receivers is an injury concern. In addition, having a nearly full field of momentum makes the hits even harder.
Because of this, the XFL renovated kickoffs to be much safer. The kicking and receiving teams line up only 5 yards apart from each other. Also, the teams are not allowed to start running until the receiver has possession of the football. This limits the momentum and severity of hits on the receiver.
Play clocks in the NFL are 40 seconds per play. In the XFL, they limited this to only 25 seconds. This does multiple things, such as speeding up pace of play. Fans often complain about the time between snaps in the NFL. In addition, this limits the ability for teams to run out the clock at the end of the game.
Double Forward Pass
In the NFL, once passed the line of scrimmage, teams cannot pass the ball forward. This causes the later plays sometimes seen in end-of-game comebacks and flee-flickers. In the XFL, teams are allowed to perform forward passes past the line of scrimmage. This allows for some more exciting play options, not possible in the NFL.
Points After Touchdown
The NFL has two options for extra points after touchdowns. Teams can kick for 1 point, or reach the endzone for 2 points. The XFL does away with kicking extra points entirely. Instead, they have three options for reaching the endzone for extra points. 2 yards gets 1 extra point, 5 yards gets 2 points, and 10 yards gets 3 points. This allows more scoring options for teams, and for extra points to be less “guaranteed” than in the NFL.
Running Game Clock
In the XFL, the game clock continues to run no matter what, except after timeouts and ends of quarters. This is different from the NFL, where an incomplete pass stops the clock. This helps the league limit clock management abilities to increase excitement.
To contrast the running game clock, the XFL has something similar to the two minute warning. With two minutes left in the game, the clock will stop after every play no matter what. This provides another hurdle for leading teams to overcome in order to reach victory.