Upstart League Alliance of American Football Begins First Season

Competitive football could have been done until July, when college football media days and NFL training camps once again popped into the public eye. But the eight-team Alliance of American Football, which opens with two games on Saturday night (San Diego at San Antonio and Atlanta at Orlando), marks the debut of the upstart league on CBS.

It’s not quite the NFL, and it’s not quite college football, either. It’s being billed as a developmental league that is trying to be an augmentation to the NFL season, according to league co-founder Bill Polian, with a bunch of things that will look the same and some that will look markedly different from the football to which you are accustomed.

With a 10-game regular-season schedule, the inaugural campaign will culminate in an April 27 championship game. You probably have a lot of questions about the AAF — its teams, players, rules and more — so here’s our primer on all the big topics:

Where can I watch?
A combination of places: online, on broadcast networks, on cable and potentially on your phone. CBS will broadcast the two opening-night games (most of the country will see San Diego at San Antonio while some will get Atlanta at Orlando) and CBS Sports Network will televise one game a week. NFL Network will show 19 games — starting with Salt Lake at Arizona in Week 1 and then two games per week following. TNT will have Salt Lake at Birmingham in Week 2 and then B-R Live will stream one game per week over the final eight weeks of the season.

What’s the overall talent level?
The thought is that this could be comparable to what would happen if backups on NFL teams played against each other. Multiple players, coaches and Polian himself said they believe their starters could be competitive with the “twos” in the league.

“What I want the fans to say is that it’s real professional football,” Polian said.

So, will I know any of these guys?
There will be familiar faces, primarily at quarterback, with Christian Hackenberg, Matt Simms and Aaron Murray. Trent Richardson, Matt Asiata, Bishop Sankey and Denard Robinson are running backs with NFL experience, and Scooby Wright and Sterling Moore are defensive players who have name recognition.

The majority of “names” are the coaches: Dennis Erickson (Salt Lake), Steve Spurrier (Orlando), Mike Martz (San Diego), Mike Singletary (Memphis) and Mike Riley (San Antonio).

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SOURCE: ESPN, Michael Rothstein