If you, like us, are already preemptively dreading February 3rd—that dark day, hungover day farthest from football's glowing sun—then we have some good news for you: The XFL, which kicks off Saturday, February 8th, just announced their proprietary rule changes and they are every bit as batshit crazy as they were back in 2001 when Jesse Ventura could be found frothing from the mouth as two semi-pro super mutants with nicknames on the backs of their jerseys played a game of potentially deadly football chicken instead of just flipping a coin.
While the "The XFL Scramble" has gone the way of Ol' Yeller, the reanimated Xtreme Football League is still rolling out plenty of wacky new wrinkles that maybe, just maybe might make it a viable option for your football-starved self come February. Highlights include...
The return of the kickoff return: Kickers will kick from the 25 yard line, while coverage team lines up on the 35. The coverage and return teams cannot move until the kick is fielded or has been in play for three seconds. Touchbacks come out to the 35. Kicks that land short of the 20 yard line or travel out of bounds, will subject to to a 10 yard penalty, with the ball spotted at the 45.
There are no extra point kicks: After a touchdown, teams must run an offensive play, with the option of starting from the 2, 5, or 10-yard line (worth 1, 2, or 3 points respectively.) Yes, nine-point touchdowns are now a thing.
The coffin corner is dead, long live the coffin corner: All punts that travel out of bounds inside the 35 yard line are placed at the 35 yard line. Coverage teams cannot break the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked. Someone get Devin Hester out of retirement STAT.
Express checkout OT: Overtime consists of 5 lightning rounds, with each team running one play from the five yard line. Each score is worth two points. Yes, two-point touchdowns are now a thing. The team with the most points after five rounds wins. If teams are still tied after five rounds, overtime proceeds round-by-round until the tie is broken.
THE DOUBLE FORWARD PASS: Tired of your boring, single-forward-pass life? Well, get ready, because the XFL is introducing a second forward pass into the boudoir to spice things up. But hold your horses, bucko. Both forward passes must occur behind the line of scrimmage. In other words, this just reduces the likelihood of the botched-lateral scramble. But hey, sometimes the sizzle is better than the steak . . . especially if you're eating at Applebee's.
In summary, if you thought the XFL was just Vince McMahon's MAGA-branded attempt to reclaim football from the anthem kneelers, then you don't know Vince McMahon very well. The man literally cannot leave well enough alone. NFL feeder league? Forget it. Elaborate buy-out ploy? Nah. NO-HOLDS-BARRED-FOOTBALL-PATRIARCHY-SMASHING-ADRENALINE RUSH? Now, you're on to something. Time will tell how these innovations bear out on the same old rectangular gridiron, but if you're desperate enough—and you probably will be after six whole days of football-less existence—the XFL may just be worth a Saturday afternoon of your time.