Gorgeous women playing football in lingerie? Seems impossible, but there’s a league of women that can give and take hits just like the big boys in the NFL. Their enthusiasm is contagious.
“I knew this is where I wanted to be,” said Zipporah Chase, a former player for the Los Angeles Temptations.
INSIDE EDITION spoke exclusively to seven players who were once stars of the Lingerie Football League and they are speaking out on what they say life is really like on the gridiron.
“I compare it to being in a relationship with a bad boyfriend. He's amazing in the beginning, and then it starts changing and then I'm in a bad relationship,” said Tessa Barrera who also once played for the Los Angeles Temptations.
Nikki Johnson who played quarterback for the Las Vegas Sin says she has suffered very serious injuries due to the crushing blows she’s taken to her head and body during games.
The women say on-field fights among players were encouraged to get the stadium all riled up and it sometimes led to injuries.
Marirose Roach of the Philadelphia Passion said she broke her neck during one game. Sydney Froelich and Laurel Creel say they sustained severe shoulder injuries.
Laurel Creel of the Seattle Mist said, “I've had four concussions that were major concussions.”
INSIDE EDITION’s Lisa Guerrero asked Creel, “How much have you spent because of your injuries?”
“I've spent thousands of dollars. I've had shoulder surgery,” responded Creel.
They blame the hard artificial turf for many of their injuries, including nasty turf burns.
‘I remember leaving a game one day, just drenched in blood,” said Deborah Poles a former player for the Chicago Bliss.
So, how much do they get paid for all this? The answer may surprise you. Not a penny. They may have helped build the league and pack stadiums, and even though the players were once paid, now they are getting exactly zilch for their efforts. In fact, players actually have to pay the league a $45 registration fee to take the field.
“How many of you thought you were going to be able to make money playing in this league?” asked Guerrero to the group of players who spoke exclusively to Inside Edition.
They all raised their hands. “A substantial amount of money,” said Zipporah Chase.
Lingerie football is the brainchild of businessman Mitch Mortaza. He recently changed the name to Legends Football League and calls it the fastest growing sports league in the country.
Mortaza wouldn't go on camera but told us that because lingerie football is an amateur sport, athletes don't get paid. He said the women want to play because they love to compete, and he doesn't plan to pay the women until the league can afford it, which he claims it can't.
And it's not just these women. INSIDE EDITION also spoke to players from the Toronto Triumph who quit en mass after playing just a single game in 2011.
“There's a reason why 20 girls left from one team, it's not sour grapes,” said Sandra Giustina who was part of that Toronto Triumph team. They said protective hard shelled shoulder pads used in practice changed to foam pads on game day to show more cleavage. Their walk-out was captured in a documentary on the team made by local filmmaker Avi Zarum.
These women say they still consider themselves pioneers and liken their experience to the movie "A League of their Own"
“I compare us to them all the time and maybe one day they'll make a movie about us and what we had to go through so women could be compensated fairly, that would be a dream come true,” said Tessa Barrera.
Mortaza, the league's owner, says injuries in tackle football are inevitable. But, he says they are constantly trying to improve their protective equipment, and have since changed their shoulder pads. He also says players suffering concussions go through rigorous tests before they are allowed back on the field.