Football is back – just a week after it ends.
However, this is not the soccer ball you are used to. It's the restart of the XFL that promises a close-up look at fans that the NFL doesn't offer, and new rules that it believes will make the games more exciting.
"It's very different," said former Giants offensive coordinator and New York Guardians coach Kevin Gilbride in a phone interview comparing the two leagues. "It's just about the fans."
The eight-team XFL starts this weekend and will be used in the tri-state area on Sunday afternoon when the Guardians compete against the Tampa Bay Vipers at MetLife Stadium.
The many different rules compared to the NFL have a common theme: Improving the fan experience.
The games will be faster. The clock does not stop between games until the last two minutes of each half of the game. There is a 25-second clock instead of 40 seconds between games, the halftime only lasts 10 minutes and each team gets two time-outs per half instead of three.
No extra points are allowed. There are three options: play a game from the 2-yard line for one point, from the 5-yard line for two points or from the 10-yard line for three points. Kick returns are welcome. When a barge goes out, the reception team starts on its own 35-yard line. If a kick is out of bounds, the receiving team starts at 45. Only the kicker and the returnee can move before the ball is caught at the kick. In punts, the team that kicks cannot cross the scrimmage line until the ball is hit.
"Everything to increase the excitement of the game they made," said Gilbride. "From a coach's point of view, there are a lot more strategies than normal in the NFL."
Perhaps just as important is that the Guardians give fans the opportunity to get as close to the action as possible. Tickets are affordable and cost just $ 30 to sit in the lower shell at MetLife Stadium. During the national anthem, fans can line up with the players. There are post-game signing sessions on the 50-yard line and group ticket packages with benefits such as attending post-game press conferences.
"We want to bring fans closer to the game they love," said Guardians President Janet Duch.
Gilbride said: "The fact that people can take a look behind the scenes, so to speak, will be very important to them."
Although the XFL is not comparable to the NFL in terms of talent, Gilbride believes that his team has multiple players with NFL skills. This league now gives them the opportunity to prove this. The Guardians list includes former Penn State quarterback and NFL substitute Matt McGloin, a one-time JJ defender from T.J. Barnes and Justin Stockton, who spent a lot of time with the Lions and Seahawks.
It remains to be seen how well the league and especially the Guardians will pull. Duch declined to disclose expectations for the number of fans on Sunday, but she said the Guardians were "happy with our position" a few days before the start.
"We are sure that we are building it properly," said Duch. "We know this will take some time."
A brand new game
The newly started XFL starts the season this weekend with eight teams and a multitude of new rules. Here's a look:
* After a touchdown, the teams have a game from the 2 yard line (one point), the 5 yard line (two points) or the 10 yard line (three points). No kicks are allowed for PATs.
* If a team completes a forward pass behind the line of scrimmage, that team can throw a second forward pass.
* Overtime consists of five rounds, similar to a penalty shootout or a penalty shootout. Each team receives a game from the 5 yard line.
* The music box has been reduced from 40 seconds to 25 seconds.
* When kicked off, the kicking team can only move when the ball has been caught by the returnee. Touchbacks are placed on the 35-yard line.
* For punts, the punting team cannot cross the scrimmage line until the ball has been kicked. If a ball is out of bounds within the 35, this is a touchback and the ball goes to the 35.
Seattle Dragons vs. D.C. Defenders
Saturday, 2 p.m., ABC
LA Wildcats vs. Houston Roughnecks
Saturday, 5 p.m., FOX
Tampa Bay Vipers vs. New York Guardians
Sunday, 2 p.m., FOX
St. Louis Battlehawks vs. Dallas Renegades
Sunday, 5 p.m., ESPN