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The New XFL Should Have An Ooonnnkkk Horn, And Other New Football Rule Ideas

Sam Woolley/GMG

Last week, Vince McMahon announced the return of the XFL. Considering the quality of the original XFL and the track record of Vince McMahon’s non-wrestling ventures, there’s reason to wonder if this thing will ever happen.

There was one possibly interesting thing at McMahon’s presser last week, though, besides Vince calling Darren Rovell “Dan.”


“We’re going to listen to coaches, players, we’re going to listen to medical experts, technology executives, members of the media and anyone else who understands and loves the game of football,” McMahon said. “But, most importantly, we’re going to be listening to fans. So I want to ask the question of what would you do if you could re-imagine the game of professional football?”

McMahon’s examples for new rules were the elimination of halftime and holding fewer commercial breaks. (Later, he also said he wouldn’t be hiring criminals, apparently in contrast to how he runs WWE.) Obviously I’d love to watch a football game with fewer commercial breaks, but so far the new rule suggestions are pretty boring.

Who knows exactly how much fan opinion the new XFL will actually take in? But the original XFL replaced the coin toss with a two-player scramble for the ball, when no football fan was clamoring for the elimination of the coin toss. It’s a sign that in the XFL any stupid rule is possible.

Here’s one I want to see: The ooonnnkkk horn. Yes, that’s a silly name, but the idea is not mine. It’s John Madden’s! He mentions in it in one of his books, One Knee Equals Two Feet:

My solution is to provide the referee with a horn that, when blown, produces a different noise than a whistle. The horn should have an ooonnnkkk sound. Once the quarterback has thrown the ball, the referee should use his horn. If a defensive player hits the quarterback after the ooonnnkkk, it’s a 15-yard penalty.


I’m not sure this solves any football problem; refs can probably tell when the QB throws the ball and don’t need a horn to tell them it’s a late hit. But no matter. I trust John Madden’s football knowledge and I know a good idea when I see it. Who doesn’t want an ooonnnkkk sound every time the quarterback throws the ball?

This isn’t the only rule suggestion I have for the XFL: It could solve the problem of the catch rule. Considering how often people say something like “That’s a catch in any football game I’ve seen or played in” whenever there’s a weird overturned catch in an NFL game, the XFL rule should be “if it seems like a catch, it’s a catch.” Think of the offense!


Here are some other ideas: The clock doesn’t stop on incompletions; field goals longer than 50 yards are worth more; drop-kicked field goals are worth even more; coaches have to wear uniforms, like baseball managers.

Heck, let’s keep going: No kickoffs; no punts; no formation penalties; green footballs. (The last time, XFL balls were black and had to be sanded down because the paint would leak off and make them slippery.) Why not have a football league where the gimmick is the balls are slippery?


Some (or, possibly, all) of these rules are quite silly. But who cares! It’s some wrestling promoter’s football league. Everything should be on the table. What new rules would you like to see?

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