It takes something really enticing to lure a man away from watching football. Like a football game on another channel. Played by hot women. In bikinis.
Calling itself "true fantasy football," the Lingerie Football League features women playing full-contact football in sports bras, bikini briefs, helmets and some pads. Their season parallels the NFL schedule and ends with the Lingerie Bowl, a televised game designed to seduce viewers away from the Super Bowl halftime show. The cable channel airing the game hasn't been announced yet.
The 2009 matchup will be in Tampa — just one example of the glitz that will take over the city in conjunction with the Feb. 1 Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. A location for the Lingerie Bowl will be announced soon, but the three-day festivities will include red-carpet events and appearances by Buccaneers and Hollywood celebs.
The Lingerie Football League is made up of 10 teams, including the Tampa Breeze, which kicks off its inaugural season with a party on Friday. While many of the 400 women who auditioned are models, the dozen who made the Breeze also have a sports background, a spokesman said.
Quarterback Rebecca Reyes, better known as Reby Sky, has posed for Playboy. She also runs nygiantsgirl.com and is a former soccer player.
"It's not just us bouncing around. We're going to be kicking butt," said Reyes, 22, of Temple Terrace. She pointed out that the team shows less skin than beach volleyball players.
But let's not kid ourselves.
"Obviously first and foremost it's a visually driven brand, so you have to have the beauty," spokesman Kyle Bolin said in call from the league's Hollywood, Calif., headquarters. "But you have to be athletic. It's a whole different breed when you're asking models to play tackle. So you have to (have) a little bit upstairs."
Bolin said 92 percent of the players are college grads. And he doesn't think Lingerie Football is sexist, noting that teams have female cheerleaders and 40 percent of fans registered on the team sites are women.
"This is not fluff. They take it very seriously," Bolin said. "They're not out there worrying about fingernails being broken, but they're worried about their necks being broken."
There have been broken collarbones and blown-out knees. In return, the players earn an undisclosed salary plus a bonus for winning the Lingerie Bowl or being chosen MVP.
The Breeze coach will be announced Friday.
"It's cool because our field is 70 by 30, so it's smaller than an NFL field and bigger than an Arena Football field," said Reyes. "So we feel kind of badass about that."