New League, New Rules

One of the first things discussed when the merger was first proposed was “Who’s rules will they use?”. To put it simplistically, it is a combination of both. The UFL officially released their Rule Book today. The 124-page document talks about the standard rules such as the definitions of the “Field of Play”, two forward passes , etc. While some of the rules between the merged leagues, such as 35-second play clock, a few were not.

One of the major differences is the kickoff. The XFL had a kickoff from their own 30-yard line, while the other 10 players lined up on the opponents 35-yard line, with only the kicker and one return man allowed to be in motion. The USFL had a more traditional kickoff from their own 20-yard line. This has been a primary topic of contention between the two leagues and their fans, with player safety being a major concern. The decision was made to adopt the USFL kickoff. Executive VP of Football Operations, Daryl Johnson, said on Thursday in Birmingham, “We drew a very hard line in the sand.” He continued that “The player safety data we have from our kick is right in line with what (XFL) has.” He then added that “It looks like football.”

Another major difference was the fact that the XFL did not do any kicks for a Point-after-touchdown (PAT), while the USFL had the standard kick option for a single point or optional scrimmage plays from various distances from the goal line to go for more. The decision here was that they will elect for the XFL version, meaning teams will have to attempt one of the following:

● 2-yard line = 1 point for a successful try

● 5-yard line = 2 points for a successful try

● 10-yard line = 3 points for a successful try

The rule book also defines a catch. While the XFL used the NFL rule of having to posses the ball with two feet down in-bounds, the USFL only required one. This has been another point of controversy as well; however the decision was made to adopt the two-feet rule as is it compares more to the NFL.

Other notable points include defensive pass interference being spot-foul up to 15-yards if unintentional or a spot foul beyond 15-yards from the line-of-scrimmage if intentional. The coaches must be specific with what they are requesting a review of when challenging a call. Overtime will be alternating attempts to score from the opponents 5-yard line, in a best-of-three format until a winner is determined.

With the rule book, which is now available to the public via the UFL official website, now official, it seams like the merged league is finally coming together. Coach Skip Holtz of the Birmingham Stallions told Shotgun Sports on Thursday “I have to hand it to these guys. What would normally take two to three years, these guys did in a matter of months.” Thankfully, we now have a merged league with combined resources that are now aimed toward competing for the UFL championship instead of being the last league standing.

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