Jan. 10 (UPI) — Commissioner Oliver Luck says the XFL’s new rules are designed to create fast-paced and high-scoring games. The XFL is also talking to several providers to make fantasy football an in-game component.
The XFL — a planned professional football league — originally started in 2001, but lasted one season. WWE chairman Vince McMahon relaunched the league in January, with the new season to kick off Feb. 8.
Luck and XFL head of officiating Dean Blandino worked to create the league’s rules. Blandino previously served as the NFL’s vice president of officiating. The XFL engaged with focus groups to create the rule book, finding fans wanted a faster game with more rhythm and flow compared to other football leagues.
“We took that information and said, ‘How can we build our league around a game that is uptempo and fast-paced and has the same number of plays of an NFL or major college game, that is exciting and ideally high-scoring? How can we develop that game?’ All of the innovations we did are grounded in that rationale.”
The XFL rules, revealed Tuesday, feature major differences compared to the NFL. Teams have three options after scoring a touchdown. They can opt for a 1-point play from the 2-yard line, a 2-point play from the 3-yard line or a 3-point play from the 10-yard line. There is no option to kick an extra point.
XFL teams will play shootout style in overtime, with each team getting five single-play possessions from the 5-yard line. Teams are allowed to have two forward passes per offensive play, compared to the one-pass limit in other leagues.
Fans no longer will be glued to the TV, deciding if a player got at least two feet down after making a catch, as the XFL requires just one foot in-bounds. The game clock will keep moving even after an incomplete pass or a player goes out of bounds, except during the final two minutes of each half.
The XFL is targeting 2-hour, 45-minute game times, nearly 30 minutes shorter than an NFL game. The rule tweaks should also be more exciting for fantasy football players. Many fans of the virtual game typically have a long layoff following the Super Bowl, but will now be able to play during the NFL off-season.
“We are in discussions with a number of potential fantasy providers,” Luck said. “I can’t give a timeline. Obviously, we start the season in 30 days. We need to get it announced and done by then, but there will be a fantasy component to our league.”
Luck — who was an NFL quarterback before his career as an executive in multiple leagues — said he would enjoy playing in the XFL.
“I put my old player helmet on sometimes,” Luck said. “I would absolutely love to play quarterback in this league.
“I like that we are going to be playing with tempo. I think that rewards the teams that are prepared. … I think there are some strategies we are going to be watching closely. Anytime you bring additional strategy to the game, fans like it.”
Son Andrew gave advice
While Andrew Luck isn’t officially tied to the NFL or XFL, he did give his dad input during the XFL’s development. The former Indianapolis Colts quarterback retired from the NFL in August and welcomed his first child in November.
“We spent a lot of time together, so I would ask him his thoughts on this or that,” Oliver Luck said. “He wasn’t a formal adviser, but we certainly have chatted about it over a cup of coffee or a beer.”
Despite seeking advice from the former NFL star, Oliver Luck said the league wants to build a model independent of the world’s most popular football league.
XFL a standalone league
NFL fans will likely stop at some names when scanning an XFL roster. Former Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones, ex-Carolina Panthers running back Cameron Artis-Payne and ex-Buffalo Bills quarterback Cardale Jones are a few of the players on rosters who have NFL experience.
Dozens of other players in the league are fighting for playing time to catch the eye of NFL executives. Luck is aware of players’ goals, but the XFL doesn’t want to simply be a feeder for the NFL.
“What we want to do is build what we like to call a standalone, sustainable league, with league brand identity and our teams having brand identity in our markets,” Luck said. “Our goal is not to develop players for another league.
“Having said that, we recognize that a lot of players in our league — guys in training camp right now in Houston, probably the vast majority of them — view our league as not just a place to play football, earn a little money and have fun, but also a place to showcase their talents with the goal of getting an NFL opportunity.
“Most of our guys have been through an NFL camp or two or three. What we are trying to build with our franchises is a standalone brand that we want. Players play for lots of different reasons.”