A League of Their Own

by Chris Haffenreffer | 1/23/01 6:00am

I remember when I was a young lad of eight or nine and my father and I were sitting at our kitchen table trying to think of a good name for the little league baseball team we were putting together. We wanted something original, and didn't want to revert to the name of a professional ball club.

We were trying to think of some good animal names that hadn't been used at that point, but nothing was really standing out the way we wanted it to. Then, I had an epiphany. Bubbling with the excitement of a great idea, I pushed myself away from the table, threw my hands in the air, and cried, "Hitmen!" My dad looked at me with a smile on his face and said, "Son, you're a genius." And so we became the Hitmen, a little league team with the hearts of killers.

Now, ten years later, I have truly realized my genius. A professional sports team has adopted the nickname that I gave birth to a decade ago, and it is fantastic to finally be able to understand the creative capabilities that I possess.

The New York and New Jersey Hitmen of Vince McMahon's XFL clearly have the coolest name of any pro sports team ever. Close behind however, are the Orlando Rage, Las Vegas Outlaws, Chicago Enforcers, Birmingham Bolts, San Francisco Demons, Memphis Maniax (remember, that's with an X) and the Los Angeles Xtreme. I mean, how did these names ever slip past the teams of the four major pro sports? We all know that some of the names of the Major League Soccer teams are almost as cool, but not even close to the level of coolness of the XFL.

It has become obvious in the past few years that the NFL is entirely too boring and monotonous for this country. It's clear that football is by far the least popular sport in this country, as it is quickly losing ground to emerging sports such as synchronized diving and trampoline -- sports recently showcased at the Sydney Olympics.

The competition has become one-sided and uneventful. Take for instance last year's Super Bowl. The St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans gave us the most uninteresting four quarters of play that I have ever witnessed, and a conclusion steeped in boredom.

Therefore, with football in its current state, the only obvious solution was an entirely new league with new rules that would make sure the seats were filled on Sunday. Thus, we have the XFL. In order to fully understand how this sweet new league will revolutionize the game of football, let's take a quick look at some of the new rules that are being employed.

The first major rule change effects fourth downs and punting. First, the kicking team may not cross the line of scrimmage until the ball is punted, and the returning player is granted a 5 yard protected area with no fair catches. Second, any punt traveling more than 25 yards may be recovered by either team. Thus we have a fourth down that is completely unlike anything we have ever seen in the game of football.

The second rule change deals with the point after touchdown. There will be no kicking of extra points; teams will run a play from the two-yard line and will earn one point if successful. However, the clock will be running, so the defensive team will be able to return a fumble or interception into the opponent's end zone for one point.

A third rule change deals with overtime. In overtime both teams will get the ball at least once. Each team will get four downs to score from the opponents 20-yard line. However, if the first team scores in less than four downs, the second team will get only that many downs to score. If neither team scores or if both should score the same amount the first time around, they'll do it again until there's a winner.

There are also several other less significant changes. Players must have one foot inbounds on a reception or interception instead of the NFL's two. One player on offense may be in forward motion outside of the tackles as in the arena football league. Defensive players may use bump-and-run tactics all the way down the field. Kickoffs must be returned out of the end zone.

Most of these new rules have been taken from the college game or NFL rules of the past, and as a whole seem rather trivial. However, it is obvious that when all of these changes are accumulated into a game, we will witness the creation of a new, completely different, completely badass football game. It will be fast-paced and loaded with action.

Receivers will no longer have to go through the tedious process of getting both feet in bounds. I mean, that was entirely too difficult. However, this will be balanced by the bump-and-run coverage that is now allowed all the way down field; therefore, defensive backs won't require the skill of a young Deion Sanders.

Essentially, there won't be a point in the game when there is not a chance that the ball might be turned over, and there will be absolutely no predictable plays. The XFL will be a league of chance, a crapshoot, and talent will mean nothing. But everyone will love it. Why? Because it will be so damn cool.