The XFL promised that its kickoff rules would make the play both safer and more exciting, and on that promise, the league has delivered.
It’s obvious to anyone watching that the play is now safer: With the unusual formations that have the kicker and returner separate from the other 20 players on the field, and those other players lined up only five yards apart from each other, there simply isn’t the opportunity for as many high-speed collisions as NFL kickoffs have.
And in today’s game in St. Louis, we got a taste of the excitement that XFL kickoffs can provide. St. Louis BattleHawks returner Keith Mumphery caught the kickoff and ran to his left, then pitched it to Joe Powell on a reverse, and Powell ran along the right sideline for the touchdown.
It was the kind of exciting kickoff return we rarely see in the NFL anymore: The XFL got its first kickoff return touchdown in its 11th game, while in the NFL last season there were only seven touchdown returns in 256 games, or one in every 37 games.
The XFL has had its problems in its inaugural season, particularly with sloppy offenses and poor quarterback play. But the kickoff rule rules.