January 16, 2001
Highlighted by the banning of fair catches on punts, the XFL today
announced key rules changes for the league's upcoming season. In
addition to eliminating fair catches, the XFL has also modified
current punting rules in several other ways to introduce the "most
exciting fourth down in football." Most prominently among these
changes is the fact that in the XFL, any punt traveling more than
25 yards will be a live ball recoverable by either team.
"You can sure that no fan will get a drink or go to the bathroom
during an XFL punt," said XFL President Basil V. DeVito, Jr.
"When the punter lets fly anything can happen. The strategic
possibilities are endless."
With the banning of the fair catch also comes protection for punt
returners in the form of a five-yard protective "halo"
by potential tacklers until the punt is caught, and members of the
kicking team will not be able to release from the line of scrimmage
until the ball is kicked.
Another major XFL rules change involves the point after touchdown,
which also has been changed to eliminate what has become football's
most automatic score. In the XFL, there will be no PAT kicks, instead
teams will have to run or pass from the two-yard line to score one
point. What's more, since the clock will be running during this
play, any fumbled or intercepted attempt can be returned by the
defending team for a one point score of its own.
Taking two pages out of the college rules book, the XFL will require
that a receiver or defender need only one foot inbounds to make
a reception or interception, and that a quarterback is deemed down
when his forward progress is halted, thus there is no “in-the-grasp”
Contrary to some reports, XFL quarterbacks will be protected should
they slide or otherwise give themselves up and headslaps are illegal.
In the other major rules changes, the XFL will return to the good
old days of pass defense as defensive backs will be able to employ
the “bump and run” all the way down the field. The league will also
utilize a 35-second clock between plays when the clock has been
stopped, 25 seconds when there is no stoppage in time.
"We haven't really invented any totally new plays but have
incorporated certain rules from other professional and collegiate
leagues, past and present, to create a faster-paced, higher-excitement
brand of football," said XFL Vice President of Football Operations
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