Should The USFL Adopt Rules And Innovations From The XFL?

With the USFL’s season quickly approaching, the league is going to have decisions to make on their approach to gameplay. Officiating, rule alterations, innovations, etc. will have to be in place before the season begins on April 16th.

An important question that comes to mind is: Will the USFL bring something new to the table? If so, how will it differentiate itself from the NFL?

Now, the USFL certainly does not want to stray from the fundamentals of football that make the game enjoyable to watch. That being said, if they want to consistently generate viewers, incorporating some innovations into their own version of the game could prove to be beneficial.

XFL’s Innovations Proved To Be Valuable

During the XFL’s 2020 season, the league debuted several rule changes that separated itself from other leagues.

One of its major innovations was their new version of the kickoff, which allowed for more returns, while lowering the potential amount of injuries. It turned out to be an excellent move, and provided the viewers with exciting moments.

The PAT (point after attempt) system was also altered to increase excitement for the fans. Teams had the choice to go for a one, two, or three point conversion, which completely changed the way the game was played. For example, a nine point lead was still a one score game in the XFL.

Another unique idea was their creation of overtime rules, although we never got to see them in play. Each team would get five possessions from the five yard line, with a chance to score two points on each possession. Whoever scored more during the overtime period would win the game. I’m sure Buffalo Bills fans would’ve preferred this style during the…ah, nevermind.

Generally speaking, the XFL provided plenty of fresh ideas to the game of football, and it was entertaining to watch the rule changes during the league’s short tenure.

How Should The USFL Approach Potential Changes?

The USFL has an opportunity to bring a whole new brand of football to millions of viewers come April. The last thing the league wants to see is bland, uninspired gameplay that doesn’t capture the attention of fans across the country.

As previously mentioned, the XFL brought some genius innovations to the game. The USFL needs to do the same, without directly copying from the XFL. Remember, the XFL plans on returning in 2023, so the USFL has to find a niche between both the NFL and the XFL.

The league can take ideas from previous spring football entities, without stealing their blueprints. For example, the USFL may want to try a different version of overtime, but it doesn’t have to be exactly what the XFL did.

Another element that the USFL should absolutely implement is the sky judge, along with allowing viewers to see and hear everything the referees do on the field. The XFL did a fantastic job at being an open book, which fans were thrilled by.

The USFL can also take advantage of the sports betting scene, which seems to be one of FOX’ goals with the league. More football means more opportunities for bettors, and we should expect the USFL to capitalize on this area.

What Do We Know So Far?

There have been some recent developments on changes the USFL plans to employ during their debut season. Mike Pereira, Head Of Officiating for the league, discussed a few of the new rules on the Greenlight podcast early last week:

One of the major differences is the pass interference (PI) penalty automatically being 15 yards, no matter where the flag occurs on the field. This eliminates PI calls from giving up massive yardage. The only way it could be over 15 yards is if the defender “deliberately tackles the receiver”.

Another change that fans will appreciate is roughing the passer, and hits on defenseless receivers being reviewable. All too many times this season in the NFL we saw flags flying for roughing the passer, on hits that seemed to be legal football plays.

Being able to review these penalties can only benefit the league’s officiating, and will prevent games from being won or lost on questionable calls.


At the end of the day, we can only speculate. That being said, more announcements should be on their way soon. The season debut will be here before we know it, and we look forward to seeing how the USFL revolutionizes spring football.

What XFL rules should the USFL implement, if any? Will you be watching the USFL in 2022? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!

  1. Totally agree on the Sky Judge, I liked the Red Hat Official, and the kick off. Try adding graduated field goals 3 pt.s for 30 yd.s and under, 4 pt.s for kicks in the 40 yd range and 5 pt.s for anything 50 yd.s +. For OT, each team begins at the Defense’s 40 yd line and has four downs to score or move 10 yd.s and get a new set of downs. Repeat until one team out scores the other. Keep the XFL kick off forvsafdty.

  2. I would Say its best the USFL use the exact rules in place they last operated under. Give the fans something we remember in a new era. Only thing I would update is Over time and extra points, no extra point a TD its 7 and Field Goals can be attempted on any down for 5 pts. On 4th down for 3. OT I like College over time Play until your Cant Score.

  3. Do we even need punts?
    I mean, low-key this is a developmental league; players are coming in to get seen by the NFL. Take out the punters and you don’t distract from that mission, because the CFL has all the punts the scouts need to see.
    What you do is, any fourth-down pass is a live ball for the opposing team. Meaning if no one catches it, the opposing team gets to pick it up as if it had been punted.
    Of course this means teams have an incentive to run Hail Mary on every fourth down unless it’s short.
    This reduces the time that is currently taken by getting punting teams in there and back out again.
    Not only do you delete the punter from that thin 38-man roster, but you don’t need as many special-teamers.

    Instead the team that scored last in regulation should have to defer the choice to the other team (they caused the tie). This means they will usually kick-off to start the overtime.
    Now late in the 4th quarter, teams often milk the clock to kick an easy Field Goal to tie at the end of regulation. Also, now after touchdowns teams kick an extra point to tie instead of going for 2 points.
    Knowing how the overtime will start will provide the incentive to win and lessen the chance of having an overtime. This will make the end of 4th quarter more exciting.
    Also, less overtimes mean fewer chances for injuries to tired players. In the event of a 0-0 tie, just keep playing from where you left off at the end of the 4th quarter.

    Yours in sports,
    Joe Kasulis

  5. I think your rule on pass interference should be enforced at the spot of the Foul. This will help protect the receiver from the Defense hitting the Receiver before he has a chance to catch the ball.

    In College Football I have seen teams get a Pass Interference call to avoid the long passes. Over 15 yards.

    I agree if the Defensive player is going for the ball and interferes with the receiver then he should not be called for pass interference, but I have seen College Football teams use pass interference to only give up 15 yards on a 30-to-50-yard passes.

    I think the Defense need to be penalized for pass interference, so the Offensive team does not get penalized for a defensive foul on a long Pass. This will open up the Game.

    Also, in the last 2 Minutes of the Game the team leading and has the Ball must get 5 yards on each play to keep the clock running. This gives the Defensive team a chance to get the Ball back without using their Time outs.

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