We watch... so you don't have to.
XFL Rule Book Exposed!
The Super Bowl party was in full swing. People were laughing and chatting and devouring crudites. The surround-sound from the home entertainment system thundered in the background. All in all, it had the makings of a memorable Super Sunday.
Or so we thought. Maybe we were too blind to see it coming. Maybe we were subdued by the camaraderie, lulled into a stupor by one too many cocktail weenies, too drunk on the esprit de corps and cheap domestic beer to realize the disaster that awaited. But when Brad Maynard of the New York Giants lined up to punt the ball away to the Baltimore Ravens, little did we know that he would also be kicking away our delusions of a happy Sunday afternoon.
Maynard kicked the ball high in the air, booting it some 40 yards down the field. And for a moment, the party-goers stopped, breathlessly anticipating the coming chaos. Maybe the Ravens would run the ball back down the field for a touchdown. Maybe the Giants special teams would surround the runner and tear him from limb to limb. As the football hurtled downward, plunging ever closer to terra firma, the possible outcomes of that play, of the rest of the game, of life seemed endless.
Which is when Jermaine Lewis of the Ravens stuck his hand up in the air and signaled for a fair catch.
A fair catch. In George W. Bush's America.
"Run it back, jackass," someone at the party must have screamed out loud -- we were all screaming it in our hearts at any rate. But the damage was already done. The ball landed harmlessly in Lewis' arms, he bent down on one knee, and the New York tacklers -- moments ago on a search-and-destroy mission to cripple anyone wearing a white jersey -- pulled up and peeled off without so much as brushing harmlessly against the Ravens' ball-carrier.
And as Lewis casually flipped the ball to the referee, it's probably safe to say that a little bit of us died inside, right then and there.
Football didn't used to be like this. Football was once played by men -- thick-necked brutes who could barely read and write but who exacted their revenge on the heartless world that had shunned them by dispensing hearty servings of punishment every Sunday. These were men who feared no earthly grave. Men who would laugh off sprains and strains and dislocations as the proud trophies of battle. Men who ran back punts.
And now? Now football is played by girls -- dainty little girls who take a knee rather than risk having to run down the field and soil their Sunday frock. Girls named Bubba and Lester and Leroy, yes, but girls nevertheless.
It's like we lost a war.
But terrible crises give rise to great men. And just as a divided America had Abe Lincoln, just as a war-torn Britain had Winston Churchill, just as the '75 Steelers had Mean Joe Greene, we have a man with a singular vision. We have a man with his finger on the zeitgeist of our troubled modern times -- a man ready to give us order out of the chaos.
We have Vince McMahon.
Vince McMahon knows all. Vince McMahon understands. He realizes that a nation satisfied with docile football players and orderly games is a weak nation, susceptible to overthrow by crafty foreign nationals. He and he alone comprehends that what's plaguing America isn't poverty or a failing education system or a lack of faith in our most fundamental institutions -- it's the stifling rules imposed upon the brave lads who play football by the castrating termagants of the National Football League. He recognizes that, in this country, we return the goddamn punts.
McMahon's newly formed XFL debuts this weekend. The mainstream media have made some effort to report on this fledgling football league and its strange new rules: shorter halftimes, no in-the-grasp rule and -- sweet, everlasting hosannas! -- no fair catches on punts. But few have taken the time to sit down and really get to know the XFL -- to understand the rules and bylaws and sacred tenants that Vince McMahon carefully and deliberately scribbled down on the back of envelope one day while on his way to a Rock-Undertaker wrestling match at the Garden.
That is, no one has until now.
One recent afternoon, we sat down with a dog-eared copy of the XFL rule book and a nice, stiff drink. Our mission: to see if the XFL brand of football could rescue us from the heartbreak of gridiron doldrums. After hours of painstaking research, we're pleased to say this XFL thing could be big -- really big. King Kong Bundy big.
And Vince McMahon? Forget the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Reserve that man a spot on Mt. Rushmore.
Excerpts from the Official XFL Rulebook, 2001 Edition:
(Thanks to Plastic readers afoglia, YCDK, popupdate, and Johnny Fashion for their most excellent contributions.)
Before every game, each team is allowed to approach one (1) player from the opposing side and offer him cash, liquor or other incentives to become a TURNCOAT. The TURNCOAT may then switch sides during the third quarter, during the middle of a play, by removing his former team's logo from his helmet. The TURNCOAT is allowed to sack, tackle, and otherwise pummel his former teammates; however, if the former team is able to avenge the TURNCOAT'S treachery before the whistle, it will receive three (3) bonus points.
Coin toss at beginning of game replaced with "Rock, Paper, Scissors" using actual rocks, paper and scissors.
Rock does not tear Paper. Paper covers rock.
THE JACK TATUM RULE: Bonus points will be awarded to a team whenever one its players cripples an opponent. Higher points will be awarded based on the severity of the injury -- one (1) point for a sprain, two (2) for a separated shoulder, five (5) for a high-grade concussion. If the opposing player is killed in the collision, the game will be stopped and the team of the player who caused the injury will be declared the winner.
JACK TATUM COROLLARY: Players carried off the field after suffering a crippling injury will forfeit their salary for that week.
No XFL player originally in play may go out of bounds and return to the field to make the tackle unless said tackle involves a folding chair.
A large supply of folding chairs -- for the use of tired players and weary members of the team's support staff -- will be left near both team's sidelines during the game. Chairs are provided in a stack, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
To liven up off-the-field action, the XFL will encourage players and cheerleaders to date. Before each date, one (1) of the cheerleaders will be injected with a minor strain of a venereal disease. If the player she is dating contracts the disease, he will be brought out to midfield, ostensibly to be interviewed by an XFL sideline reporter. At that time, the reporter will shout at the player, "You've got venereal disease!" while leading the crowd in chants of "Unclean, Unclean." His team will be assessed a ten-yard penalty.
If a team uses a foreign-born kicker, that player must first sing the
national anthem of his homeland, while the crowd derisively chants "U.S.A."
Players will be encouraged, through generous cash bonuses, to attack the mascot of the opposing team. To defend themselves, mascots will have their choice of weapon -- a roll of quarters, a folding chair, a canister of mace or a handful of dirt with which to blind their attacker. If a mascot successfully fells a player, that team will be penalized 10 yards.
Substitutions will only be allowed if the referee sees the tag.
At one (1) randomly chosen interval during each half, a siren will sound and the normal black XFL football will be replaced by the head official with a blue football (the "Money Ball"). The Money Ball is in play for one minute. When the Money Ball is in play, the following rules apply:
- Use of kickers is outlawed; all kicking must be done by real players.
- Offensive lineman are only allowed to block to the count of "three mississippi."
- The "Pass Interference" penalty is inverted; when a receiver is running downfield, they may be held, pushed, tackled, and beaten. However, once the receiver catches the ball, he can not be touched except to be pulled down by his face mask.
- Touchdowns from outside 40 yards are worth 10 points.
- Touchdowns from inside 10 yards are worth only five (5) points.
- Sacks are worth three (3) points and result in a turnover.
- THE "DODGE BALL" RULE: The Quarterback has the option to throw the Money Ball directly at an opposing player. If the player fails to catch the ball, he must sit out the following plays until a change of possession or until the Money Ball time elapses.
Players may attempt to knock down forward passes by using small firearms.
Between the conclusion of one play and the beginning of the next, the coach and quarterback will both be connected via an electronic audio transmission system, so both can listen to the cheers of the cheerleaders on the sidelines with clarity.
Before the snap, as the quarterback is giving his signals, speakers to the side of the field will electronically enhance and relay sound, in order to allow that sound to be heard over the noise of the crowd. And that sound will be AC/DC's "Back in Black" on constant repeat.
At the two-minute warning, a player chosen at random from the leading team will be asked a multiple-choice trivia question. After he hears his possible answers, he will be given the option to walk away and allow his team to keep its current point total. If he answers the question correctly, the point total doubles -- but if he answers incorrectly, the team's point total will be reduced by half. (The player may not consult with his teammates in order to come up with the answer; however, he will be allowed to ask a cheerleader.)
Traditional "safety padding" found in NFL helmets is not allowed. However, helmets will be lined with honeycomb containing angry bees.
If the referee is knocked out by one of the teams, play must continue until the referee regains consciousness. Whichever team is in possession of the ball once the referee comes to will be awarded seven (7) points.
If a player fails to make a solid tackle or pulls up instead of jumping on a downed opponent, he will be required to spend the rest of the game wearing a frilly, pink dress.
Kickoff return in thirty minutes or your pizza is free.
No kicks will be allowed for point-after-touchdown conversions. Instead, teams must run a play from the three (3) yard line. If successful, the team will be awarded one (1) point -- two (2) points if the play involves a midget.
After a touchdown, the person who enters the end zone will have 30 seconds to run an obstacle course and throw the football through a small hole 20 yards away. If he succeeds, his team will receive a two (2) point bonus -- four (4) points if he manages to toss a midget through the small hole.
A tie score at the end of regulation results in a 15-minute sudden-death overtime. A tie score at the end of overtime results in a battle between the head coaches to prepare the best 4-course meal they can in 30 minutes using whatever sport drinks and athletic accessories are on the field, plus a secret ingredient which shall rise from underneath the 50-yard line.
In lieu of an actual playoff system, the XFL playoffs will take place in one championship "rumble." Every two (2) minutes, a bell will sound and a new team will enter the game until all eight (8) XFL teams have entered the game. A team only leaves the game when its quarterback has been tackled in the end zone or his helmet has been thrown through the goalposts on the opposite end of the field. The last team remaining on the field at the end will be declared the champion.
Most importantly: NO WRESTLING or the jig is up!