- The Alliance of American Football kicks off play this Saturday.
- The league sports eight teams competing in a 10-week season, with teams made up of former pros and college standouts.
- There's no predicting the league's future, but for fans looking for a new way to interact with the sport they love, or just in need of some February football, it's well worth checking out.
There's good news for football fans who were wondering what they'd do with their weekends now that the NFL postseason is in the books this Saturday, the Alliance of American Football will kick off its inaugural season with four games.
While there's no telling how far the AAF will make it as a league, it's a compelling story to follow, and for football fans, should at least provide some solid action for those still craving the sport.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the AAF before kickoff this weekend.
What is the AAF?
The AAF is the Alliance of American Football a spring football league kicking off Saturday. For any football fans already feeling the post-Super Bowl blues coming on, it should be a perfect fix.
What are the basics of the league?
- Eastern Conference: Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos
- Western Conference: Arizona Hotshots, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders, San Diego Fleet
The teams will play a 10-game season leading to a four-team playoff.
What are the rules?
Regular NFL viewers won't be caught too off guard by the rules the AAF has implemented, but the league has made a few changes to the football fans are most familiar.
Kickoffs no longer exist, with teams instead merely starting with the ball at their 25-yard line at the start of a half or after a score. If teams need to attempt an onside kick, they'll have the chance to convert a fourth-and-12 from their 28-yard line.
There are no extra points, with two-point conversion attempts instead following every touchdown.
Additionally, games will employ a ninth official, who will be in charge of real-time replays, with the power to call penalties the refs on the field missed a feature the Saints might have appreciated in the NFC Championship.
Will I recognize any of the players or coaches?
Football fans will certainly recognize a few names on both AAF team rosters and coaching staffs. Steve Spurrier, Mike Singletary, Rick Neuheisel, and Mike Martz are leading teams as head coaches. Michael Vick is serving as offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Legends.
Quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg, Blake Sims, Trevor Knight, and Zach Mettenberger should all be familiar to NFL fans as well.
When and where do I watch?
Colin Young-Wolff/AP Images for NFL Network
The first games of the AAF season will be broadcast this Saturday at 8 p.m. EST on CBS, with regional coverage bringing viewers either Atlanta at Orlando or San Diego at San Antonio.
On Sunday, viewers can catch Memphis at Birmingham on CBS Sports at 4 p.m. EST, and Salt Lake at Arizona on NFL Network at 8 p.m. EST.
Weeks 2-10 of the season, NFL Network will carry two games per week, with CBS Sports and Bleacher Report Live also broadcasting a game each.
NFL Network's Kurt Warner provided analysis for the league's "Protect or Pick" quarterback draft.
The league's inaugural title game will be carried on CBS on April 27.
Who started this league?
The league was co-founded by Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersol.
Ebersol was inspired to create the league while directing the "30 for 30" documentary "This Was the XFL," linking up with NFL Hall-of-Famer Polian and setting out to create a viable spring football league.
Who is funding the operation?
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Investors in the AAF include The Chernin Group (which owns other sports entities including Barstool Sports and The Action Network), Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, former NFL All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen, and more.
The league also has a partnership with MGM Resorts, which will serve as the AAF's exclusive gaming partner.
Will it work?
There's no way to know!
Previous leagues have tried and failed to establish a foothold with football fans in the spring, but Ebersol and Polian both seem keen to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors.
They're aiming to be a secondary league, rather than a direct competitor to the NFL, and leaning into things that can create for a unique experience interactivity and a locality with their fan base.
With live sports still one of the most reliable ratings-drivers in a media environment looking to draw eyes in, it's not a stretch to believe the Alliance of American Football will beat the odds and make it with many seasons to come.
Regardless of where the league winds up, the journey begins in full this Saturday at kickoff.
Now get to know the teams and players that make up the AAF:
- Betting on Week 1 of the AAF is a once in a lifetime opportunity here are our best bets for the new league
- The familiar names and odds to win the championship for each of the 8 teams in the AAF, the spring pro football league that makes it debut on Saturday
- Gronk brushes off question about his future, but his answer could be a clue that he has already decided to retire