• Loading stock data...
Sunday, April 21, 2024
  • -
    days
  • -
    hours
  • -
    minutes
  • -
    seconds

The NFL, Not One to Borrow, Appropriates the Old XFL Kickoff

  • The league announced it will use the same rules the XFL created in 2020.
  • Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee, says the NFL has not often looked elsewhere for improvements.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has held loose ties to the many minor league football outfits that have come and gone over the last few decades, using them at times as training grounds for referees, quarterbacks, and coaches, largely unofficially. But never has the league borrowed from a minor league something as dramatic as the new kickoff rule that was adopted by the NFL this morning.

The reconstituted kickoff was first used in 2020, in the XFL, which shuttered after only five weeks due to the pandemic. The relaunched XFL used the same kickoff during its ’23  season.

Rich McKay, co-chairman of the NFL competition committee, says that the only other cases he can recall of the league borrowing rules from the lower ranks are a few minor adoptions from NFL Europe, which ceased operations in 2007. But certainly nothing like today’s decision.

“If you go back to our NFL Europe days, we tried … a bunch of those [rules],” says McKay, who remembers that being “in my early days of the committee.

“What they are, I can’t remember. [They] certainly weren’t as significant as this.”

The new rule is designed to maintain the action of the kickoff while reducing the high rate of concussions and other injuries typically associated with the traditional version. In the new format, a kicker will boot the ball from his own team’s 35-yard line, while his 10 teammates line up downfield, at the opposing team’s 40. The receiving team will have nine players between its own 30- and 35-yard line, with two returners inside the 20-yard line. No one but the kicker and receivers will be allowed to move until the ball hits the ground or is caught.

The XFL—whose tagline in the 2020 season was “football reimagined”—touted that its kickoff would be safer than the traditional version but still ensure returns on most kicks. McKay says that, based on the NFL’s research, that’s what happened. 

While the NFL is borrowing the idea, that doesn’t mean there’s any official relationship between it and the UFL, which formed from an XFL-USFL merger and kicks off its inaugural season Saturday. In fact, asked about the kickoff during his closing press conference from this week’s annual meetings, Goodell gave credit instead to NFL special teams coaches, with no nod to the XFL.

The UFL, meanwhile, will employ the traditional kickoff, though Daryl Johnston, the league’s head of football operations—who in the same role at the USFL last year described the XFL kickoff as not looking like real football—told the Markcast podcast last week that if injuries were up this year on the play, the UFL would make a change.

The reformatted kickoff also initially met resistance in the NFL, where 13 teams voted against it on the first count Monday. (Twenty-four yeas were needed.) With some arm-twisting overnight, that figure jumped to 29 yeas this morning. The resolution approving the change is effective for only one season.

Linkedin
Whatsapp
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Everything You Need To Know About the Legal Attempts To Kill the ACC

Four lawsuits involving the conference, Clemson, and FSU could determine the future.

Stanley Cup-Keeper Miragh Bitove is Ready to Protect the Hardware

To safeguard what may be the most-recognizable trophy in all of sports, she’s never more than an arm’s length away from the precious metal.

A Bare-Knuckle Fighter Won His Pro Debut. The Far Right Scored a Marketing Win

With Proud Boys sponsoring him, experts say extremist groups will use his success to elevate their ideologies and recruit new believers.

Nike Cuts Over 700 Jobs In Second Phase of Layoffs

“Nike’s always at our best when we’re on the offense,” the company says.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Why Ian Rapoport Lives for the NFL Draft’s Chaos

0:00
0:00

Featured Today

Women’s Basketball Finally Has a TV Deal to Match the Excitement. Now What?

A lucrative new media-rights contract could rectify problems of the past, but the future of March Madness media rights is anyone’s guess.
Mar 16, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) cuts the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels for the ACC Conference Championship at Capital One Arena.
April 6, 2024

How Two College Seniors Helped DJ Burns Cash In on a Final Four Run

Two college seniors are facilitating deals for NC State’s big man.
Mar 31, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; NCAA officials measure the three point line while coaches from the Texas Longhorns and NC State Wolfpack watch with referees in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center center.
April 1, 2024

NCAA Has No One to Blame for Latest Women’s March Madness Transgressions

NCAA is still making avoidable mistakes three years after a complete overhaul.
Nov 16, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; General view of the championship banners at Assembly Hall prior to the game between Austin Peay and Indiana.
March 31, 2024

How to Make It in Basketball: Become a Manager at Indiana

Inside the Hoosiers’ unglamorous, profoundly rewarding incubator for basketball’s biggest names.

Careers

Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Adidas
Multiple - USA Careers
FanDuel
Multiple - USA Careers

NBA Media Rights Likely Headed for Open Market Next Week

The league is reportedly letting Monday’s deadline pass without a deal.
April 17, 2024

NBA Bans Jontay Porter for Life After Gambling Investigation

The NBA found that Porter gave injury information to sports gamblers, among other violations.
April 17, 2024

Women’s Golf Has Five—Not Four—Majors, and That’s a Good Thing

The Chevron Championship tees of Thursday outside of Houston.
Sponsored

Rapid Returns: How Technology Is Getting You Back to Your Seat

How Oracle’s POS technology is helping fans get back to their seats faster.
April 17, 2024

Warriors Missing Playoffs Has Big-Money Consequences

The NBA is losing one of its biggest postseason draws.
April 17, 2024

Even Joe Biden Is Surprised By Caitlin Clark Making $76K

The president posted Tuesday night about pay disparities in sports.
April 16, 2024

Caitlin Clark Drives Massive WNBA Draft Audience for ESPN

Clark’s coronation was the most-watched WNBA telecast in decades.
April 16, 2024

For Caitlin Clark and Other Rookies: Now a 29-Day Sprint to WNBA Debut

The league regular season starts swiftly after college basketball ends.