3 Ways the Rebooted XFL Will be Different From the NFL

For years, football fans have regarded most non-NFL football leagues like the American Alliance of Football or the 2000 version of the XFL as something of a joke. In the XFL’s case, WWE mastermind Vince McMahon’s brainchild lasted only one season. Attempts to appear edgy came off as desperate and inauthentic, and the quality of play was poor. 

The XFL is back, however, and this time McMahon is taking a different approach to introducing a new football league. Gone are the attempts at appearing extreme in favor of providing fans with a high-quality football product. Here are three ways in which the rebooted XFL will differ from the NFL.

Soccer-style overtime

The new XFL will differ from NFL football in a few major ways.
Overtime in the NFL will look much different than what the NFL offers. | Tom Hauck/Allsport/Getty Images

In the NFL, overtime is fairly straightforward. The first team to score a touchdown wins. If neither team scores a touchdown on their first possession and are still tied, the next score wins. Other than that, it doesn’t differ much from regulation gameplay. Both teams kick off to determine field position. 

XFL overtime will adopt a style closer to soccer. Both teams will get the opportunity to score. Instead of receiving a kickoff, however, they’ll get the ball from the five yard line. It’s also closer to college football’s overtime system which has both teams starting possessions at the 25-yard line. By moving the ball to the five yard line, it will likely increase the amount of overtime scoring.

The season starts in February

It’s impossible not to associate autumn with NFL football. Some football fans who watched the sport in the 80s might remember the USFL and its disastrous decision to move from the spring to the fall, in direct competition with the NFL product. Despite having some incredibly high-powered team owners within their ranks, the league soon folded.

The new XFL will kick off in February. They’re not positioning themselves as a competitor to the NFL, but instead as a way for football fans to enjoy the game while the NFL isn’t playing.

February is known for being one of the slowest months for sports. Other than the NBA and NHL All-Star games, college basketball, and the beginning of baseball spring training, not much happens. From the Super Bowl until March Madness, the sporting world is generally viewed as a dead zone.

The XFL has a tremendous opportunity to fill a gaping hole on the sports calendar. If they build an exciting brand of good football, they may be able to “claim” February for their own.

The XFL play clock is shorter

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The NFL features a 40-second play clock, giving the offensive coordinator time to radio a play into the quarterback. Conversely, it gives the defense time to set up in the right scheme or formation.

The XFL plans to shave 15 seconds in favor of a 25-second time frame. This has the potential to be both good and bad.

On the negative side, it could lead to confusion and disorganization among the players. Having less time to set up a play means less time to get your team on the same page. It could lead to more infractions — both false start and offsides penalties.

On the positive side, it may make the game more exciting. It’s likely that more teams would opt for a no-huddle offensive approach. That could increase the tempo of the games, leading to a faster-paced style with teams throwing the ball up and down the field. It could also lead to more turnovers. This isn’t necessarily good for offenses, but there’s little doubt that interceptions create excitement within the game as well.

Ultimately, the fate of the XFL will be decided by the quality of the play on the field. If these changes from the NFL game can help differentiate the game, that will only increase the odds of a multi-season stay for the upstart football league.