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Lingerie Football League is no Powder Puff League

November 8, 2011 - Craig Harvey
CLEVELAND — It's official.

I have the hardest job known to man.

I recently drove two and a half hours to Cleveland to watch the Lingerie Football League.

Such a tough life.

I hope you sense my sarcasm.

Without ever seeing a play of this league, I must say it was more entertaining than my initial portrayal of the game.

Despite the Philadelphia Passion handing the Cleveland Crush a lopsided 60-18 defeat, the game had a unique form of entertainment value.

The game consists of two 17-minute halves. The officials are local high school referees. The only time there is a kick off is at the beginning of each half and with less than two minutes remaining in the game. There are no field goals as teams go for the two-point conversion after every score. Also, the offense must throw the ball twice every four downs.

The LFL has been in existence for three years now and this is Cleveland's inaugural season.

I thought it was a powder puff league where the linebacker would kiss the running back on the cheek and pull the flag for a tackle. I thought (and had high hopes) the extra point would involve some sort of pillow fight. But in fact, the players — dressed in a two-piece swim suit with shoulder pads and a hockey helmet — were quite the athletes and some heavy hitting was involved.

Each player took part in a four-hour tryout which involved taking part in the National Football League combine drills. The team practices three days a week for three to four hours.

"There is so much misconception," Cleveland Crush player and marketing manager Melissa Miller said. "It is a sexier uniform. However, when you get out here, and they start hitting, people are like, 'Wow. These women can hit.' There is some really hard hitting."

Miller has been an athlete all her life and competed in flag football leagues around Cleveland. After leaving a job at a consulting firm, Miller heard the Cleveland team would be holding tryouts. After getting cut the first time, she tried again a few months later and made the team.

"(Form tackling) is still hard for me," Miller said. "I have never played tackle football before. I have an athletic background and it is hard for me. You get really, really sore."

The league had a bit of a setback earlier this season as 20 of the 26 players from the Toronto team walked off the team, citing safety concerns. The players felt they were not being coached how to properly tackle.

However, Cleveland tough girl Amber Barrick had a different take as to what happened north of the border.

"I think the problem with the Toronto thing was they never researched what they were getting into," she said. "They didn't realize they were playing tackle football and that's their mistake. If they ever watched it before, they knew they would get hit. You don't get to push someone or give them a big bear hug. If you want that, go be a cheerleader or go play tennis."

And don't ask Barrick if she feels like a sex object by playing football with little clothing on.

"I wouldn't put myself in a position I wouldn't want to be a part of," she barked. "We chose to be here and chose to play tackle football in a bikini style, more of a volleyball player outfit. No one criticizes them, so why criticize us for playing football?"

With only a few teams in the league, it is hard for fans to get behind Cleveland as it only had two home games all season. Miller noted that will change in the near future as the league has plans to expand.

One of the more entertaining on-field promotions I have ever seen came during halftime as a contestant had the opportunity to try and tackle a Cleveland player. And much like Philadelphia was able to do the entire night, the fan was also able to tackle the Crush player.

While the league and team needs work, it wasn't the biggest waste of a Saturday night. On the bright side, it's surely more entertaining than the Women's NBA.

 
 

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The Lingerie Football League is in its third year of existence.