No-frills fun scores some points at Chicago Bliss season opener
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org April 20, 2013 1:38AM
Shauna Bittle | Staff Photographer Staff writer Mike Danahey photographed in Elgin, IL on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.
Updated: May 23, 2013 6:20AM
The Chicago Bliss made a less-than-triumphant return to the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates on Friday night and was soundly beaten by the Los Angeles Temptation, 31-18.
It was the season opener for the team playing in what was the Lingerie Football League and is now the Legends Football League.
Legends seems an odd name for a league that’s been around for less than a decade and got its start as alternative Super Bowl halftime entertainment.
It also is a division of the Big 10 college conference, which has 12 teams now and is set to expand to 14 in 2014 when it will change those division names.
Yes, football can be a long-winded, confusing game — from names, to rules, to what the players wear.
For this season, the LFL touted uniform changes, which Bliss quarterback Heather Furr said amounted to “basically nothing dangling from them anymore.”
So the gear looks a bit like women’s sand volleyball outfits or Hooters waitress gear with soccer socks, exposed midriffs, knee and elbow pads and shoulder pads that make the tops look like the big shoulders you would see on ’80s new-wave bands and hockey helmets.
In short, it’s no better or worse than what high school girls volleyball uniforms would look like if they mashed up with the lacrosse or field hockey team’s outfits — if most of the young women also had the same shade of L.A. Tan.
More than skin deep
Although the LFL women aren’t as big and strong as the men, it takes a good amount of toughness to play the game the way they do.
Imagine Jay Cutler running around being chased by Clay Matthews with both of them dressed in Underoos — on artificial turf, where you can crash into the boards, and cameramen and still photographers are on the playing field.
“Look at the road rash on that one,” is how a buddy of mine put it as he watched, pointing to another issue of playing tackle football indoors with any amount of skin exposed.
Of course, he also noticed a few players adjusting the their shorts as they crept up their backsides — which I think has only been a problem in the NFL for Devin Hester.
And he spotted that the woman sportscaster doing on-field interviews who chose to wear stiletto heels with her pants suit had trouble with her shoes digging into the fake grass.
Down to earth
As for the play, the women also like to trash talk just like the guys, and they get in each other’s faces. Some of them also kissed when the Kiss Cam went around the arena, which I think Cutler once did to Matthews during an especially heated Bears-Packers game.
LFL tackling has improved, with more one-on-one takedowns now compared to the pillow-fight-like group gropes back in early days of the league — back when there was texting but not Twitter and Facebook and every dude taking pictures with a tablet or a smartphone.
The whole Bliss team ran onto the field after Chrisdell Harris scored the game’s first touchdown, which is a penalty in the stuffy old NFL.
Nah, this league doesn’t seem to regard itself as sanctimoniously as pro football.
How can it, when the fog machine took its time to belch out mist, the PA system spewed feedback before blaring a Bliss-based rock video, the arena smelled like burnt pancakes for a bit, and at one time the scoreboard read 255-188 in favor of the Temptation?
The entertainment also featured a public address announcer who, I am guessing, has memorized the dialogue from the old Charlie Sheen movie “Major League.”
At halftime, he oversaw a contest where three male fans were chosen for a dance-off: Robert in the rafters, who could actually move; Ozzie, who was not the ex-White Sox manager but who took his top off at the odd urging of the announcer, revealing a bad tattoo to go along with an utter lack of footwork or time at the gym; and Hot Sauce, who looked like a younger Hagrid from “Harry Potter” or maybe Jesus, if Jesus were a Nebraska Cornhuskers fan, liked beer and went shirtless.
For being the crowd favorite, Hot Sauce got a chance to tackle Bliss player Dominique Collins — which he did. He won a T-shirt for his effort, proudly proclaiming that he tackled an LFL player (one less than half his size).
I think he also got some road rash of his own on his big belly from trying to do a worm dance. And he probably needed to see his cardiologist Saturday from the exertion.
In all, with 8-minute periods, the game — which started before 9:30 p.m. — took about 90 minutes to complete.
Although they lost, after a postgame debriefing from their coach, the Bliss players headed to a table to sign autographs and to let fans talk pictures with them.
Some were posing with pals or making plans to go to a party somewhere in the suburbs. One of the players even had networked for a friend of hers, putting her in touch with a young man there who claimed to be the son of one of The Four Tops, who wanted to help her with her music.
That was my favorite line of the night, which meant it was time to go home, “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch” playing on the soundtrack in my head.