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What is the 4th-and-15 ‘Onside Kick’ XFL rule that could be adopted by the NFL?

The XFL’s Week 1 kicked off over the weekend and a lot of football fans are talking about the league’s onside kick rule, and if the NFL could adopt it.

SAN ANTONIO, TX - FEBRUARY 19: Hakeem Butler #88 of the St. Louis Battlehawks is upended by Anthony Texada #22 of the San Antonio Brahmas at the Alamodome on February 19, 2023 in San Antonio, Texas.   Ronald Cortes/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Ronald Cortes / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The XFL kicked off a new season over the weekend, and debuted a newly implemented rule that could have a long lasting affect on the the alternative football league and the NFL.

XFL hoping to scratch that football itch

Just a week after the the Kansas City Chiefs hoisted their second Super Bowl in a matter of four years, the new XFL season commenced in hopes of filling that football void for rabid fans who can’t wait until September for Week 1.

The XFL puts a different twist on the game we all know and love. There are different teams, different players, different rules and a different culture. While the league hasn’t taken off like it’s owners had hoped (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson included), it hopes to gain some steam this year.

While the NFL will never feel threatened by the presence of another football league during their offseason, they could adopt one or even some ideas from the XFL, which can serve as a guinea pig for Roger Goddell and the rest of the league’s office.

New season kicked off over weekend

We got a glimpse During a Week 1 match up between the San Antonio Brahman’s and the St. Louis BattleHawks, the BattleHawks were down 15-3 with under a minute to go in the game. St. Louis scored a touchdown, went for the three point conversion and went for it on the onside kick, converted and ended up winning the game 18-15 in a dramatic fourth quarter finish.

NFL fans will read that last sentence, scratching their head while wondering what drugs I must be on, but that’s the beauty of the XFL. The teams and players are more hardcore and unchained when it comes to rules and interactions between teams and fans. The league doesn’t abide by the strict code of the NFL.

For example, there are no extra points, instead you have to go for a one, two or three point conversion from the 2, 5, or 10 yard line after scoring a touchdown. The clock stops on all first downs, but never on incomplete passes or out of bounds plays. There can be two forward passes on a play as long as the first pass is caught behind the line of scrimmage, and an overtime shootout that consists of each team getting three alternating chances to to convert two point conversions from the five yard line. Which ever team converts the most two-point conversions in the three attempts wins, if there is no winner, it goes to sudden death.

NFL to ponder new “on-side kick policy”

These might seem outlandish, and if you know the NFL, you know that none of these rules are likely to be implemented, but there is one rule that the league should be considering, and it has to do with onside kicks. On side kicks have almost become obsolete in the NFL since the rules committee decided to prohibit kicking teams to get a running start before the the kick. Since 2010, players on kick coverage have been forced to stay on the restraining line until the kickoff occurs, which has drastically dropped the amount of successful onside kicks recoveries.

The XFL has introduced a revolutionary idea, and the NFL may be forced to ponder if it’s worth it to adopt the rule. Instead of an onside kick, the team that would otherwise be attempting the onside kick will instead go for a 4th-and-15 from their own 25-yard line. If they covert, they get to keep the ball.

For over a decade two possession games have lost some of their interest because of the kickoff rules in the NFL. They changed the rule for the safety of the players, which is understandable, so they are unlikely to regress to the old way of onside kicks, but this alternate option from an alternative league may be the solution to the league’s onside kick problem.