The XFL has gotten one thing very right: It has made the kickoff both more compelling and safer. And the NFL is paying attention.
Via Mark Maske of the Washington Post, Packers CEO Mark Murphy said Monday that he’s intrigued by the XFL’s approach to putting the ball in play at the start of each half and after a touchdown or field goal.
“Obviously it makes it safer because you’re taking the speed out of it,” said Murphy. A member of the Competition Committee, Murphy said that there has been no formal discussion of the alternative formation by the league’s rule-recommending body.
Hopefully, they’ll discuss it and suggest that the owners adopt it, without regard to concerns that one or more owners would respond by saying, “Why didn’t you think of this on your own?” For years, the NFL has been trying to take the high-speed collisions out of the kickoff return, but the league’s solutions have made the play less and less relevant.
The XFL’s approach makes the play safer by keeping 20 players within five yards of each other, while also creating more returns. Indeed, if the kick doesn’t land in the predetermined zone of the receiving team’s 20 yard line and the goal line, the receiving team gets the ball on the kicking team’s 45.
While that part of it seems a little extreme, the formation makes too much sense for the league to not consider using it. Here’s hoping the NFL does both.