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XFL Brings ‘Less Stall, More Ball’ to Faster-Paced Football Game

New league debuts rule changes designed to make game more exciting

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NBC 5 News

The second inaugural season of the XFL is just over a month away and the league is sharing the variations on the rules that they hope will help distinguish their game from the NFL.

The XFL said their "less stall and more ball" way of thinking led to "gameplay innovations" that will deliver more action at a faster pace.

The league said they took 18 months to develop their rules changes and considered input from current and former players, coaches, officials, broadcasters, medical professionals and industry experts. They, of course, also asked more than 6,000 fans what they'd change -- the changes, which were tested under gameplay conditions, are below.

  • Safer Kickoff Returns -- Coverage teams will line up just five yards apart to make the kickoff safer for players. Touchback penalties will be in place to incentivize returnable kicks and the potential for the big plays.
  • NO PAT Kicks, More Scoring Options -- A tiered point system allows teams to go for one point from the 2-yard line, two points from the 5-yard line and three points from the 10-yard line. A possible "nine-point touchdown" means an 18-point deficit is still a two-possession game.
  • Shootout-Style OT Format -- Each team's best offensive and defensive players will determine the result of a game tied at the end of regulation time. Each team receives five attempts to score from the 5-yard line in a hockey shootout format, with the clubs alternating attempts (receiving two points per success) until one team's total is insurmountable.
  • Double Forward Pass -- Multiple forward passes will be allowed behind the line of scrimmage to create more play options for offenses.
  • Running Clock and Fewer Time Outs -- The clock will run continuously outside of the two-minute warning, and teams will only be allotted two timeouts per half.
  • 25-Second Play Clock -- A 25-second play clock that begins after the ball is spotted for the next play will eliminate some of the downtime between plays.
  • College Catch Rules -- Only one foot needs to be in bounds to be counted as a reception (this allows players to stabilize their bodies and reduce the chance of injury).
  • Shorter Halftime -- Halftime will be a 10-minute period before the action resumes.
  • Dedicated Ball-Spotting Official -- Eliminates confusion, enables quicker ball spots and powers a faster game.

"Everything the XFL is doing is for the love of football," the league said. "The gameplay innovations that resulted from this intensive effort put the XFL in a position to offer more of the excitement and on-the-field elements that fans love - meaningful plays, minimal downtime, heightened competition, and enhanced player safety. We're doing this in a manner that allows the XFL to stay true to the game America loves most and without any gimmicks -- ever."

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To see the entire XFL rulebook, including animations explaining the infractions, go here.

Opening weekend for the new league is Feb. 8. The Dallas Renegades will take the field for the first time at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 when they host the St. Louis Battle Hawks at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Dallas Renegades have begun to build their roster for the XFL season which kicks off in February. The team added 31 players on day one of league draft. Prior to the selections, the XFL assigned a quarterback to each of the league’s eight teams. The Renegades landed Landry Jones, who threw for more than 16,000 yards when he was a student-athlete at the University of Oklahoma. In joining the Renegades, Jones is reunited with his old college coach. NBC 5’s Paul Jones discusses that and more with Bob Stoops.

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