Player safety in the XFL vs NFL

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An official XFL mock rendering of the new kickoff style showing the placement of players on the field.

Clayton Hedges, Memorial Staff Writer

With the Extreme Football League (XFL) season having already kicked off Feb. 9, there has been plenty of time to observe the league and form opinions on their take of football. 

The consensus is generally a positive one, as the rules that have been adopted so far have been beneficial for both the speed of the game and player health. 

The importance of safety cannot be understated when it comes to football; while the game is meant to be a gladiatorial style of play with the best athletes in the country attempting to deliver massive hits on their opponents, this has led to many premature deaths and life altering injuries for players. 

Even now, there are still too many injuries in the more followed National Football League (NFL), leading to major players like: Rob Gronkowski, Andrew Luck, Luke Kuechly and Calvin Johnson who have all deciding to leave the sport while still in their prime. 

Because of this the XFL has altered the game to ensure that the players are the most safe while not sacrificing the integrity and fun of the game. Some of these rules are basic, like allowing receivers to catch the ball with only one foot in bounds in order to ensure that their bodies can fall more naturally and not hit the ground with so much force. Other rules are different, to say the least.

The most dangerous part of football, is actually what is considered the least exciting, special teams. Kickoffs account for roughly 30 percent of injuries in the NFL, while the NFL knows there’s a problem, their solutions have been either jarring or unproductive. 

However, the XFL offers a unique take on kickoffs as ten players line up five yards apart from each other at the 30 and 35-yard line and are only allowed to move once the ball is caught. This reduces the amount of high speed collisions while placing an emphasis on blocking angles and allowing for more touchdowns on kickoffs, bringing more excitement to the game. 

Although these rules logically seem like they will be safer for the players, there won’t be any true evidence for this until a few seasons have passed. However, the fact that the XFL is lightyears ahead of the NFL in the attempt to protect players says more about the NFL’s negligence for player health than it does about the modernization and ingenuity of the XFL. 

 

Contact Clayton Hedges at: [email protected]