Lingerie football a bump and grind

When you're through, can we practice? Mitch Mortaza (sprawled on dummy), founder of the Lingerie Football League, said he was showing the Philadelphia Passion tryouts how to tackle.
When you're through, can we practice? Mitch Mortaza (sprawled on dummy), founder of the Lingerie Football League, said he was showing the Philadelphia Passion tryouts how to tackle.
Posted: May 15, 2009

Sue Curci looked tired. She had been running routes and catching footballs, and she needed a little water break. Also, she had to fix her makeup.

The 22-year-old was one of approximately 80 women who showed up the other day to try out for the Philadelphia Passion, the area's new Lingerie Football League team.

This probably won't surprise anyone, but I've covered the LFL before. When I was in Dallas, I interviewed a few of the hopefuls when the league first got going. That's why I know the women involved are real competitors and surprisingly good athletes. But that's not why they do it. Most want to be actresses or models, and the LFL is a way to bathe in the spotlight's warm glow while finding something more permanent. Fame is a powerful motivator.

Curci said the thought hadn't occurred to her. She runs track for West Chester University, and she loves sports, and she thought tackling other women in their underwear might be fun. I know how she feels.

She's applying to grad school, and I asked her what that has to do with lingerie football.

"Nothing," Curci said.

Pause.

"Well, I am going for human sexuality," she added.

Perfect. Welcome to the LFL, where human sexuality isn't the name of the game, it is the game. No one involved with the league apologizes for it. Why bother? Everyone knows the deal. Complaining about chauvinism or objectification would be as phony as going to Burger King or KFC and recoiling in mock horror upon learning the food is high in fat and calories.

The LFL is the brainchild of Mitch Mortaza. Think of him as the sports version of Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis. Both are overly slick. If they had been born 150 years ago, they would have gone town to town selling Doc Wonderful's Magic Elixirs and Cleaning Solvent. Instead, both got rich by convincing young women to take off most (if not all) of their clothes so a bunch of dudes could watch and slobber. It's a great country.

"The women of the LFL need three things," Mortaza said, after telling the LFL hopefuls he's 35. (If that's the case, then I'm 32 going on 20.) "Confidence, athleticism and, finally, they have to be gorgeous. We're not looking for the best athletes. We want our league to have women like Anna Kournikova, Danica Patrick and Gabby Reece. They're not the best at what they do, but they're the most marketable. We know why men turn out."

Indeed. There were a lot of male media types at the tryouts, and they all seemed unusually focused. Comcast SportsNet's Gregg Murphy was there. The Daily Snooze sent Sam Donnellon. NBC10 dispatched Jamison Uhler. I went to high school with Jamison. Back then, we called him Jamie. Now he's a big-time anchor. He probably just wanted to get out of the office and report a serious story for once.

Me? I wanted to ogle cute women. And, you know, write something that would make my mom proud.

I have a tough job, and I take it seriously.

The standard tryout uniform was short-shorts and sports bra, though some of the ladies were more creative. One woman was wearing a tiny tennis outfit. (Advantage: me.) Another young lass applied eye black and lip gloss in between sessions. Her name is Jackie Danico.

"It's tackle football, but you still have to look attractive," Danico told me. The 25-year-old made the LFL's New England team, but the franchise never found a venue to play in. She said it was for the best. Danico is from North Jersey, and she'd rather stay close to home and play for the Passion.

Danico, by the way, is a professional dancer. She said she's used to wearing skimpy outfits and has no problem with the idea of playing football in her underwear.

Ironically, only one woman actually showed up to the tryout in her lingerie - and she got cut. When she was walking off the field, she was surrounded by TV cameras and tape recorders. Everyone was interested to know how she felt - and maybe snap a picture of her in her unmentionables.

She responded by crying uncontrollably. I think Donnellon was standing too close.

After the poor girl left, I went over to ask Mortaza what he was thinking. Cutting a curvy, beautiful brunette in a skin-tight, black-lace outfit could very well ruin the league's credibility.

What the hell kind of lingerie football league is this guy running, anyway?

"She was crying? Really?" Mortaza said. "Well, at least I got her number."

He may have been kidding. Hard to tell.

Anyone else worried about Jamie Moyer? . . . Former Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter told DFWReporting.com that Jerry Jones convinced the NFL to look the other way so he could cut Carter a few years ago after Carter failed a drug test. (NFL policy prohibits teams from cutting players for positive tests.) "It was a billionaire power play," Carter said. "That's how powerful Jerry Jones is." Pretty sure J.J. killed JFK, too. . . . You can watch my interview with Kenny Florian - the UFC's top lightweight contender - on Philly.com (tinyurl.com/kenflogonzo). Florian was in town to promote the UFC's first event in Philadelphia, which will be held Aug. 8 at the Wachovia Center. At the end of the interview, Florian does something my ex-girlfriends (and probably most of you) would love to try: He puts me in a choke hold. If it had been a real fight, I think I could have taken him.


Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or gonzalez@phillynews.com.

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