(12-28-22) Over the years the rules of football have been changed numerous times, plus high school, college and the NFL all have different variations of the rules of the game. This year the XFL is returning with new rule changes. It takes a league like the XFL to explore changes that might help all levels.

XFL President Russ Brandon

“Our innovative rules are the cornerstone of our League and a clear example of our commitment to advance the game.These changes will increase possession and scoring options while remaining true to the spirit of the game.”

2023 XFL teams

  • Arlington Renegades
  • D.C. Defenders
  • Houston Roughnecks
  • Orlando Guardians
  • San Antonio Brahmas
  • Seattle Sea Dragons
  • St. Louis Battlehawks
  • Vegas Vipers

Below are some of the XFL’s key new rules and modifications from 2020:

GAME TIMINGClock will start following incomplete passes and out of bounds plays prior to two-minute warning of either half
Clock will stop following first downs after two-minute warning of either half
Play clock increased from 25 to 35 seconds*
Timeouts increased from 2 to 3 per team per half*
The XFL will operate with a 35-second play clock
OVERTIMENo coin toss, no one-possession wins, no ties 
Consists of alternating attempts from opponent’s 5-yard line 
Three attempts per team (two points per score) or until winner is decided *
OPTIONS TO KEEP THE BALLTwo options to keep the ball after scoring 
Traditional onside kick (any time during game)
4th and 15 conversion from own 25-yard line (4th quarter only)*
INSTANT REPLAYHead coach allowed one challenge of any officiating decision once per game, with final ruling made by designated members of the officiating department in a central location (never been done before at any level)*
Centralized replay
*Replay may correct obvious errors on non-reviewable plays, player safety at any point during the game, and any issue that significantly impacts the outcome of the game in the last five minutes of regulation plus overtime
KICKOFFSKicking team and return team start play five yards apart Eliminates high-speed collisions and enhances player safety
More returns, less touchbacks
92% kick off returns in XFL 2.0 compared to 39.6% in the NFL
Average XFL drive started at the 29-yard line compared to the 25-yard line in the NFL
EXTRA POINTSTiered extra points are back
Teams will have three options for extra points following a touchdown–
2-yard line = one point; 5-yard line = two points; 10-yard line = three points
Replaces the traditional kick, providing teams a chance to score more points and build excitement within the game.
DOUBLE FORWARD PASSIf a team completes a forward pass behind the line of scrimmage, that team may throw a second forward pass, as long as the ball has not crossed the line of scrimmage 
Once the ball has passed the line of scrimmage, no forward passes are permitted 
Less risky because the first pass may fall incomplete rather than becoming a live ball lateral 

*New or modified in 2023

Don’t like rule changes…you might change your mind after checking out how the game was being played in 1906 –

“Official Foot Ball Rules 1906”

Field, Equipment, Players, Officials, Etc.

Rule 1

(a) The game shall be played upon a rectangular field, 330 feet in length and 160 feet in width,1 enclosed by heavy white lines marked in lime2 upon the ground. The lines at the two ends shall be termed “goal lines.” Those on the two sides shall be termed “side lines” and shall be considered to extend beyond their points of intersection with the goal lines.

The field shall be marked off at intervals of 5 yards with white lines parallel to the goal lines, and also at intervals of 5 yards with white lines parallel to the side lines.3

The goal shall be placed in the middle of each goal line, and shall consist of two upright posts exceeding 20 feet in height4 and placed 18 feet 6 inches apart, with horizontal cross-bar 10 feet from the ground.

(b) The foot ball used shall be of leather, enclosing an inflated rubber bladder. The ball shall have the shape of a prolate spheroid.

(c) The game shall be played by two teams of eleven men each.

(d) A player may be substituted for another at any time. In such a case the substitute must go directly to the Referee and report himself before engaging in play. A player who has been replaced by a substitute may not return to further participation in the game.5

(e) No player having projecting nails or iron plates on his shoes or any projecting metallic or hard substance on his person shall be allowed to play in a match. If head protectors are worn, no sole leather, papier-mâché,6 or other hard or unyielding material shall be used in their construction, and all other devices for protectors must be so arranged and padded as, in the judgment of the umpire, to be without danger to other players. Leather cleats upon the shoes shall be allowed as heretofore. 

(f) The officials of the game shall be a Referee, two Umpires and a Linesman.

Rule 2

(a) The length of the game shall be 60 minutes, divided into two halves of 30 minutes each,8 exclusive of time taken out. There shall be ten minutes intermission between the two halves. 

(b) Whenever the commencement of a game is so late that in the opinion of the Referee, there is any likelihood of the game being interfered with by darkness,9 he shall, before play begins, arbitrarily shorten the two halves to such length as shall insure two equal halves being completed, and shall notify both captains of the exact time thus set. Either side refusing to abide by the opinion of the Referee on this point shall forfeit the game.

Rule 3

The game shall be decided by the final score at the end of the two halves. The following shall be the value of plays in scoring:

  • Touchdown, 5 points.
  • Goal from touchdown, 1 point.
  • Goal from the field, 4 points.
  • Safety by opponents, 2 points.

Rule 4

Methods of Kicking the Ball

(a) A Place-kick is made by kicking the ball after it has been placed on the ground.13

(b) A Kick-off is a place-kick from the center of the field of play. A kick-off cannot score a goal. (Rule 7.)

(c) A Punt is made by dropping the ball from the hands and kicking it before it touches the ground.

(d) A Punt-out  is a punt made by a player of the side which has made a touchdown to another of his own side for a fair catch. (Rule 21, c.)

(e) A Drop-kick is made by dropping the ball from the hands and kicking it the instant it rises from the ground.14

(f) A Kick-out is a drop-kick, place-kick or punt made by a player of the side which has made a safety or a touchback.15 

(g) A Free-kick is a term used to designate any kick when the opponents are restrained by rule from advancing beyond a certain point before the ball is put in play. 

Rule 5

Definition of Terms.

(a) The “Field of Play,” as technically termed in these rules, is the rectangular space bounded by the goal lines and the side lines.

(b) A Scrimmage takes place when the holder of the ball places it flat upon the ground, with its long axis at right angles to the line of scrimmage, and puts it in play by kicking it forward or snapping it back.

(1) The scrimmage does not end until the ball is again declared dead.

(2) The ball is always put in play from a scrimmage, except in cases where other specific provision is made.

(c) The Line of Scrimmage for each side is an imaginary line parallel to the goal line and passing through that point of the ball nearest the side’s own goal line.

(d) A Fair Catch consists in catching the ball after it has been kicked by one of the opponents and before it touches the ground, or in similarly catching a “punt-out” by another of the catcher’s own side, provided the player while advancing toward the ball signals his intention of making a fair catch by raising his hand clearly above his head and takes not more than two steps after making the catch.

(1) The mark of the catch shall be the spot at which the ball is actually caught, and in case the catcher advances within his lawful limit after the catch, the ball shall be brought back to the mark.

(2) It is not a fair catch if the ball, after the kick, was touched by another of a player’s side before the catch. Opponents who are off-side shall not in any way interfere with a player who has an opportunity for making a fair catch; nor shall a player be thrown to the ground after he has made such catch.

(3) If a side thus obtains a fair catch the ball may be put in play by a punt, drop-kick, place-kick, or scrimmage. If the ball is put in play by a kick, the opponents may not come within 10 yards of the spot on which the fair catch was made; and the ball must be kicked from some point directly behind the spot where the catch was made, on a line parallel to the side line.

(e) A Down occurs when the Referee blows his whistle or declares the ball dead. The Referee shall blow his whistle or declare the ball dead: (1) When a player having the ball cries “Down”; (2) When any portion of his person, except his hands or feet, touches the ground while he is in the grasp of an opponent; (3) When he goes out of bounds; or, (4) Whenever he is so held that his forward progress has been stopped; (5) When, on a forward pass, the ball, after being passed forward, touches the ground before being touched by a player of either side; (6) When, on a forward pass, the ball, after being passed forward, crosses the goal line without touching a player of either side; (7) When a kicked ball (except a kick-off or free-kick) strikes inside the field of play and then rolls over the goal line before being touched by a player of either side.

(f) A Touchdown is made when the ball lawfully in possession of a player is declared dead by the Referee, any part of it being on, above or behind the opponent’s goal line.

(g) A Touchback is made when the ball in possession of a player guarding his own goal is declared dead by the Referee, any part of it being on, above or behind the goal line, provided the impetus which sent it to or across the line was given by an opponent. The referee shall declare the ball dead behind the goal line just as if it were on the field of play.

(h) A Safety is made when the ball in the possession of a player guarding his own goal is declared dead by the Referee, any part of it being on, above or behind the goal line, provided the impetus which sent it to or across the line was given by the side defending the goal. Such impetus could come: (1) From a kick, pass, snap-back or fumble by one of the player’s own side; (2) From a kick which bounded back from an opponent; (3) In case a player carrying the ball is forced back, provided the ball was not declared dead by the Referee before the line was reached or crossed.

A safety is also made when a player of the side in possession of the ball commits a foul which would give the ball to the opponents behind the offender’s goal line; also when the ball, kicked by a man behind his goal line, crosses the extended portion of either side line.

(i) A Goal from Touchdown is made by a place-kick direct, or a place-kick preceded by a punt-out.

(j) A Goal from the Field is made by kicking the ball from the field of play over the cross-bar of the opponents’ goal in any way except by a punt or a kick-off.

(k) A Foul is a violation of any rule.

(l) The ball is Out of Bounds when either the ball or any part of a player who holds it touches the ground on or outside the side line or side line extended.

(m) A player trips another when he obstructs below the knee, with that part of his leg that is below the knee.

(n) Hurdling in the open is jumping over or attempting to jump over an opponent who is still on his feet. Hurdling in the line is jumping over, or attempting to jump over, a player on the line of scrimmage, with the feet or knees foremost, within the distance of 5 yards on either side of the point where the ball was put in play. 

What do you think?

So does high school sports need to make changes like these for the future. What would you like to see changed, added or removed?