First-ever XFL kickoff in Dragons-Defenders shows new rules might take getting used to for viewers

Jim Zorn

FILE – In this Feb. 25, 2019, file photo, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck gestures during a press conference in Seattle. When the XFL debuts in February, it will take a “Star Trek” approach of going where no football league has gone before. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

WASHINGTON D.C. (CBS) – The new XFL is officially underway, as the Seattle Dragons and D.C. Defenders kicked off this afternoon. The new football league wants to differentiate itself from the NFL, and they have adopted several different rules which will be on display today.

One of the biggest rule changes in this league has to do with the kickoff. According to the XFL rulebook, the kicker kicks from the 30-yard line and must kick the ball in the air and in play between the opponent’s 20-yard line and the end zone. The coverage team lines up on the return side 35-yard line and the return team lines up on the 30-yard line. Each team must have exactly three players outside the hash marks on both sides of the ball and cannot move until the ball is caught by the returner.

Check out what the first kickoff in the XFL looked like:

Out of bounds kicks and kicks that fall short of the 20-yard line will result in an illegal procedure penalty, taking the ball all the way out to the kicking team’s 45-yard line. Players can move when the ball is touched by the returner or three seconds after the ball touches the ground. The official waves his hand down when the players can officially move. If the ball is kicked into the end zone and is downed, it is a “major” touchback and the ball is placed at the return side 35-yard line.

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