Indiana Daily Student

XFL to kick off season

NBC will kick off the season for a new football league at 8 p.m. Friday. The New York/New Jersey Hitmen will travel to Las Vegas. \nIn Sin City, the Hitmen will take on the Las Vegas Outlaws. These teams are part of the new Xtreme Football League. Better known as the XFL, this 10-week season is ready for liftoff. \nFor those of you who haven't heard, World Wrestling Federation Chairman Vince McMahon announced Feb. 3, 2000 that the season would begin exactly one year later. I am sure the big question running through everybody's mind now is whether it will be real. Everyone knows the WWF follows a storyline. The XFL does not. \nHow can I prove this? Call up your bookie and tell him you want to find out the spread on Saturday night's game of the Chicago Enforcers and Orlando Rage. Get the hint: Las Vegas does not make lines for something that has a predicted outcome. Now call your bookie and ask him how much you can bet Stone Cold Steve Austin will win the Federation title at Wrestlemania. I would like to hear him laugh in your face.\nAlthough the XFL will not be staged like the WWF, some of the antics will be the same. McMahon said he would like to see players and cheerleaders date. Pyrotechnics for these games will be as glorious as they are when WWF superstar The Rock makes his way to the ring.\nSome rules will be different from college and professional football. \n"We haven't really invented any totally new (rules), but have incorporated certain rules from other professional and collegiate leagues, past and present, to create a faster-paced, higher-excitement brand of football," XFL Vice President of Football Operations Mike Keller said. \nThese rules consist of changes mostly in special teams and defense. The defensive backs will be allowed to bump-and-run a receiver all the way down the field, as opposed to only 10 yards from the line of scrimmage in the NFL. During kickoffs, a player may not down the ball in the endzone for a touchback. After a punt, the receiver may not call a fair catch.\nI know what you're thinking: why doesn't he just let it bounce so he doesn't get killed? Because the ball becomes live after 25 yards. Although this might seem like eventual suicide, the receiver will get what the XFL calls a five-yard "halo" to protect the punt returner from getting his head ripped off. In another effort to save the punt returner, members of the kicking team may not release from the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted. \nA big difference from the NFL and NCAA is that kicking extra points after touchdowns will not be allowed. After scoring, the ball will be placed on the two-yard line and will either be run or passed in for a point. An interesting aspect of this is the opportunity for the defense to score one point. \nLet me draw up a scenario to explain. \nThe Chicago Enforcers have a big game against the Memphis Maniax. Memphis scores a touchdown to tie the game. Going for the extra point with the game winding to an end, 1994 Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam fumbles. Enforcers linebacker and IU graduate Jamie Beasley picks up the ball and runs it 98 yards. The Enforcers are winning by one point. \nGoing along the lines of college football, the XFL has decided a receiver must land with only one foot in bounds.\nWhile this is different than the NFL, nothing differs more than salary. With every XFL player making $40,000 per season -- quarterbacks slightly more -- the payroll is low. Incentives are provided for teams, most importantly for winning. Players receive a $2,500 bonus for winning a game, and about $25,000 for winning the championship. What New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan brings in each year ($8 million) could pay for an entire 45-man XFL roster.\nI am interested to see how this XFL season develops. While the players are not as talented as those in the NFL, a match-up between the Birmingham Bolts and the national champion Oklahoma Sooners would be too close to call. With a twist to traditional rules, there will be a lot more drama in the XFL. Along with the creative mind of McMahon, this new league has been marketed well. Just wait until the season starts.

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