When WWE Chairman Vince McMahon launched the Xtreme Football League in 2001, much excitement was made off of its unique approach at playing football.
McMahon and the league had several notable changes from typical NFL rules, and encouraged a much rougher and fast-paced game compared to that of the competition. McMahon saw it as an opportunity to seize on the popularity of the NFL and give football fans a different feel to the game.
Because of that mission, McMahon’s XFL featured numerous differences in rules. Here are the most notable ones.
There Was No Coin Toss to Start Games
Instead of beginning the game with the coin toss, as the NFL does, the XFL had the idea to have one player from each team line up at the 35-yard line. The two players sprinted, following the referee’s whistle, to the 50-yard line, where the ball was placed. The player who recovered the ball after the scrum could elect if his team wanted to kick or receive to start the game.
The PAT Was Eliminated, Instead Requiring a Pass or Run
The extra point had become a normality in the NFL until it changed the rule in 2015 and required kickers to boot a PAT from the 15-yard line. The result has made the play a lot more interesting, as there are now plenty of games where kickers miss an extra point.
The XFL was at the forefront of changing the PAT system, as its rules stated that there would be no extra-point kicks after touchdowns. Instead, teams were required to either run or pass the ball from the 2-yard line to get an extra point.
Kick Returners Had to Run Out of the End Zone on Kickoffs
The NFL has changed its policy to aid kick returners’ safety on the plays. It moved the spot of kickoffs up and encouraged players to take a knee in the end zone, giving his team the ball at the 25-yard line.
The XFL encouraged — and required — players to return kickoffs out of the end zone, unless the ball went through the end zone and out of bounds on the kickoff.
Only One Foot Was Required Inbounds For a Reception
Similar to the college game, just one foot was required to be inbounds for a catch to be ruled successful in the XFL. In comparison, the NFL requires two feet to touch inbounds in order for it to be ruled a successful catch.
The NCAA OT System Was Used
The NFL has toyed with switching its overtime system in the past, and did so in 2012. Previously, overtimes were played with the first team to score a field goal, touchdown or safety winning the game. But the change initiated by the NFL gave the team on defense first in the overtime an opportunity to tie — or win — if the offensive team scores just a field goal. If that team scores a touchdown, however, the game is over.
The XFL’s overtime rules mirrored the NCAAs, with each team having at least one possession with a maximum of four downs from the 20-yard line — unless a defensive touchdown is scored on the first possession. The change in the OT rules for the XFL from the college game was if the first team that scores a touchdown does so in less than four downs, the other team can only use that many plays to answer the score.
No Fair Catches Were Allowed
One of the major rules differences between the XFL and NFL was that there were no fair catches allowed in the former. However, the punt returner was allotted a 5-yard zone that the kicking team couldn’t enter into until the ball was touched. Also, any punt that went further than 25 yards was ruled a live ball and could be recovered by either of the teams.