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What is the AAF? Notable players, coaches, teams, schedule for new Alliance of American Football league

The new Alliance of American Football is almost ready for kickoff (the two season-openers, San Diego-San Antonio and Atlanta-Orlando, are both on CBS at 8 p.m. ET Saturday, with regional coverage, and can be streamed on CBS All Access). So, what exactly is the AAF? Well, you may have come across some news about former NFL quarterbacks finding new homes, if you've been reading football headlines recently, 

CBS Sports Network aired a QB Draft with lead analysis from Kurt Warner, for instance, and in that draft, familiar names like Christian Hackenberg, Josh Johnson (who ended up playing for the Washington Redskins in a few games late in the 2018 NFL season) and Aaron Murray were selected as if starting their NFL careers afresh.

Those quarterbacks -- and countless other players -- are actually preparing to suit up for the AAF, a brand new league set to debut on Saturday. 

If you're like most football fans, however, and you're still trying to figure out just what the heck AAF really is, well, you've come to the right place. Here, we've got all the details you need to get ready for the games this weekend (and we've even got Power Rankings):

So what is the AAF?

AAF stands for Alliance of American Football, which was announced in March by co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian, the latter of whom spent decades working as an NFL executive. It is an eight-team league that exists to both complement the NFL during the offseason and showcase local, developing talent. Its leadership board features former NFL players Jared Allen, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu, and its mission is to provide "high-quality professional football fueled by a dynamic Alliance between players, fans and the game." And if you want to see out who we've got in the Week 1 games, check out our picks.

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What are the teams?

The AAF's inaugural eight franchises are as follows:

  • Arizona Hotshots
  • Atlanta Legends
  • Birmingham Iron
  • Memphis Express
  • Orlando Apollos
  • Salt Lake Stallions
  • San Antonio Commanders
  • San Diego Fleet

Who are some notable coaches and players?

The AAF used a QB Draft to allow each of the eight teams an opportunity to either protect allocated quarterbacks or pick one from another region, with those quarterbacks first signing directly to the AAF. Before the draft, dozens of other players had already joined the league, with Hines Ward hinting this fall that "big names" remain on the AAF's radar.

Before any players signed to the league, the AAF also announced head coaches for all eight of its original teams.

Here's a rundown of some of the most notable names on each team entering 2019:

Team: Arizona Hotshots
Coach: Rick Neuheisel
Players: QB Trevor Knight

Team: Atlanta Legends
Coach: Kevin Coyle
Players: QB Aaron Murray, QB Matt Simms, WR Stephen Hill

Team: Birmingham Iron
Coach: Tim Lewis
Players: QB Blake Sims, QB Scott Tolzien, RB Trent Richardson, CB JaCorey Shepherd, K Nick Novak

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Team: Memphis Express
Coach: Mike Singletary
Players: QB Christian Hackenberg, QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Zac Stacy, WR Chris Givens

Team: Orlando Apollos
Coach: Steve Spurrier
Players: QB Garrett Gilbert, QB Stephen Morris, WR Frankie Hammond, DB Will Hill

Team: Salt Lake Stallions
Coach: Dennis Erickson
Players: QB B.J. Daniels, QB Garrett Grayson, RB Matt Asiata

Team: San Antonio Commanders
Coach: Mike Riley
Players: RB David Cobb, RB Daryl Richardson

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Team: San Diego Fleet
Coach: Mike Martz
Players: QB Josh Johnson, RB Bishop Sankey

When will they start playing?

The AAF's 10-week, 40-game regular season begins Saturday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m. ET from Spectrum Stadium in Florida, where the Orlando Apollos will host the Atlanta Legends; and from The Alamodome in Texas, where the San Antonio Commanders will host the San Diego Fleet.

CBS is scheduled to broadcast the AAF's Feb. 9 Opening Day, with regional coverage (and you can stream the games on CBS All Access), while CBS Sports Network will then carry one AAF game each week throughout the season (stream those games on CBS Sports Network or on  fuboTV, try for free).

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