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On the Ball: The XFL is a fresh and fun reimagination of traditional football

The XFL is a fresh reimagination of classic American football and it should be getting more attention from football fans. 

The XFL is a modern American football league established in 2018 to create a spring football league beginning as soon as the NFL season concluded. 

The XFL has begun its first new season since 2020 when the league had to file for bankruptcy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The league was recently brought back to life by celebrities Dwayne Johnson and Dani Garcia following their purchase of the league in 2023.

One of the main draws to the XFL is that the league mainly consists of former NFL players who experienced injuries or other hiccups in their careers and were never given a second chance in the NFL. Now, they can showcase their talents in the XFL. 

Other players are former college stars who never got a chance in the NFL and can now show that they have potential at the professional level. 

The league features many rules that are unfamiliar to typical football fans and offers a truly different brand of football.

Here’s a brief look at how the XFL has reimagined the game:

Kickoff rules 

In the NFL, being a special teamer is one of the most dangerous positions that involve the most concussions. This is due to the nature of the NFL’s kickoff rules where the special teamer's job is to run full speed down the field and ram right into the closest defender that stands in their way. For some players on NFL rosters, this is their only job and proves to be quite dangerous. 

The XFL has reimagined these plays by lining up the offense and defense5 yards apartfrom one another and simply running a short distance to initiate a safer block.

Not only does this rule keep players safer but it also results in more big plays such as long kick returns - something that the NFL lacks entirely. 

Onside Kick Rules 

The NFL onside kick is something that's been worked on for years by league executives. In 2019, the number of onside kicks recovered by the kicking team dropped from 21% to only 6%.

Rather than attempting a nearly impossible onside, teams in the XFL may attempt one play from their own 25-yard line in which they attempt to move the ball 15 yards downfield. If the offense can convert this play then the ball will stay where they converted the play. 

This new rule was utilized in week one of the XFL when the St. Louis Battlehawks used the play to come back from a 15-3 deficit with only two minutes left against the San Antonio Brahmas. The ending of this game turned heads across the football world as some of the most entertaining football around. 

All of this happened because of the 4th and 15 rule that is exclusive to the XFL. 

You can challenge any play 

Another difference that the XFL and NFL have that football fans should observe is that in the XFL coaches can challenge any play made by the referee. 

In the NFL there are certain plays such as holding and roughing the passer that, upon further review, don't really hold up to actually being a penalty. However, there is no rule allowing these plays to be overturned. 

In the XFL, the referees have significantly less power: the coaches can question and overturn any play if it can be held up under review. 

Building a league culture 

In the official XFL mission statement, the league states that its main goal is to create “a place where players, fans, partners, employees and communities interact with each other to build a dynamic future of football.” 

The XFL has achieved this goal in part by putting microphones on primary players and coaches. 

As you watch an XFL game you can hear the quarterback and the coach go through the playbook and call their plays as well as reactions from coaches on crucial plays and turnovers. This creates some comical moments during games that provide insight into the players and coaches.

Will the XFL ever reach the level that the NFL has? No, of course not. However, in the downtime after the Super Bowl, the league is definitely an interesting alternative.

If you’re missing football or if your favorite NFL team is in the middle of a devastatingly long rebuild, consider finding yourself a favorite XFL team and watch some new football this spring. 

Robert is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views expressed in this column do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Robert? Tweet him @robertkeegan_.

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