Legends Football League
|Current season, competition or edition:|
2020 Extreme Football League season
|Formerly||Lingerie Football League (2009–2012)|
Legends Football League (2013–2019)
|Sport||Women's American football|
|No. of teams||8|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California|
|Seattle Mist (3rd title)|
|Most titles||Chicago Bliss (4 league titles)|
The Extreme Football League (X League), previously known as the Legends Football League, is an American women's tackle football league, with games played during the spring and summer months in arenas and stadiums.
The league was originally founded in 2009 as the Lingerie Football League (LFL), and later rebranded as the Legends Football League in 2013. On December 13, 2019, the LFL announced that it would not be holding a 2020 season and instead restructured as the X League, placing new teams mostly in the same locations as the 2019 LFL season.
The league's administrative offices are located in Los Angeles.
Lingerie Football League: 2009–2012
The concept of the league originated from an alternative Super Bowl halftime television special called the Lingerie Bowl, a pay-per-view event broadcast opposite the Super Bowl halftime show. The first three Lingerie Bowls were held annually from 2004 to 2006 and were billed as Lingerie Bowls I, II, and III, featuring teams composed mostly of models and actresses. From 2007 to 2009, the next three planned Lingerie Bowls (billed as Lingerie Bowls IV, V, and VI) were all canceled for various reasons.
In 2009, league chairman Mitch Mortaza expanded the concept from a single annual exhibition game to a ten-team league, branded as the Lingerie Football League (LFL). The league operated on a similar schedule to the National Football League (NFL), playing in fall and winter and played most of its games indoors with similar rules to indoor football. Many of the teams were coached by former NFL players and coaches who were already well known in their respective cities. Many of the LFL players had a background in other competitive athletics at the college and semiprofessional level, as well as some experience in tackle football from playing in other semiprofessional leagues.
The initial uniforms consisted of shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, performance wear, and ice hockey-style helmets with clear plastic visors in lieu of face masks. The original uniforms of the Lingerie Football League consisted of an athletic bra and underwear that were more revealing than protective, as well as added lace, ribbons, and garters as decoration. While these uniforms were routinely criticized by media, players' reactions were typically mixed on the use of the uniforms, comparing the similarities in coverage to track and field uniforms or beach volleyball bikinis.
Global pursuits and the Legends Football League: 2012–2019
After three seasons, the league announced it was adding a companion league in Canada that began play in August 2012. It then pushed back the US season to 2013 on a spring and summer schedule, mirroring other indoor football leagues.
During the hiatus, the Lingerie Football League announced a name change to the Legends Football League, retaining the LFL moniker, on January 10, 2013. The league also announced that the athletes would wear "performance apparel" instead of lingerie, but the uniforms look very much the same as before. In addition to the new uniforms, redesigned shoulder pads were introduced to provide more protection for players. Other league changes included eliminating images of sexy women from team logos and changing the league tagline from "True Fantasy Football" to "Women of the Gridiron". Along with the rebrand of the league in 2013, the league also began changing the uniforms as the originals were too heavy on sex appeal, initially dropping the ribbons and garters. The league designed new ones for the 2014 season closer to more traditional activewear, resembling uniforms similar to volleyball players, replacing the ribbons with shoelaces on the front of the top and bottom.
The LFL then began looking into a Latin American league with six franchises throughout Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. On September 16, 2013, the LFL postponed the entire 2013 LFL Canada season until 2014 with plans to merge the US, Canada, and Mexico teams into a single league called LFL North America.
The LFL then formed another league in Australia in December 2013 and played one season. LFL Australia's debut season in the beginning of 2014 marked the debut of the new performance wear uniforms. The LFL planned to launch a fourth global league – LFL Europa – in 2015 with teams in Dublin (Ireland), Manchester (England), Düsseldorf and Hamburg (Germany). Barcelona (Spain) and Frankfurt (Germany) had previously been mentioned as potential franchise cities. With four global leagues, the league announced intentions to compete in a LFL World Bowl in São Paulo in 2015. By July 2014, the league planned a three leagues: LFL Americas, LFL Europa, and LFL Oceania. On June 10, 2015, the LFL announced that there would be no international play through at least 2017 with sole focus on growing the league in the US, the exception being international exhibition games to introduce prospective countries to the league.
The LFL announced new uniforms with new colors for the 2016 season. Numbers and logos were printed on the uniform as opposed to previously being sewn on. In addition, the league also announced that teams would have a choice of camouflage or black alternates. In 2017, the league also added a long pants uniform in lieu of the regular bikini bottom for the final home games.
X League: 2020–present
On December 13, 2019, the league announced that it would not be producing a 2020 season and would re-evaluate markets in the future. Four days later, the LFL was restructured into the Extreme Football League, which was announced to begin play in April 2020. The league still has eight teams, which initially were all in the same markets as the former LFL teams, but under new team identities. The Nashville Knights were the only team listed in the X League announcement to not change names, but they were replaced by the Kansas City Force in January 2020. As part of the league restructuring, it began offering ownership stakes to its players and coaches based on the individuals contributions and commitment to the organization, as well as revenue distribution program for merchandise featuring an individual player's likeness. The league's first season was postponed to a scheduled start in June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, it had been announced that it was postponed yet again, this time until April 2021. During the hiatus, the league announced Mike Ditka had been named chairman of the league.
Playing style is full-contact and similar to other indoor football leagues. The field is 50 yards between end zones, 30 yards wide, and the end zones are 8 yards deep, roughly the same as other indoor leagues. Many fields are just over 28 yards wide, as games are often played in converted National Hockey League-sized rinks (85 feet wide), with the plexiglass removed, dasher boards padded, and ice surfaces covered with artificial turf.
There are no kickoffs, except the option for an on-side kick should the game be close near the end, nor field goals; halves and after scores begin on team's own 15-yard line. Kicking off after every scoring drive was added before the 2013 Pacific Cup, but was removed shortly after the first game of the LFL Australia season. A team must attempt to get a first down on every fourth down, or they risk a turnover. After a touchdown, a team can attempt a one-point conversion from the one-yard line, or a two-point conversion from the three-yard line. Since 2015, teams are given the option to punt if within their own 10 yard line; the ball is placed on the 15 or wherever it went out of bounds if the punt isn't returned.
A game consists of four ten-minute quarters and a 12-minute halftime (30-minute halftime in championship). In the event of a tie, an extra 8 minute sudden death period is played; whoever scores first wins it. If still tied, the game ends drawn, and each team receives a one in the tie column in the standings; however, in postseason, multiple 10-minute sudden death periods are played until one team scores, which wins the game and that team advances. Teams get 2 timeouts per half or overtime period.
The league was met with criticism throughout its existence. Critics say the league degrades female athletes through "pernicious objectification". The uniforms received extensive criticism for their revealing nature. In an ESPN article, Sarah Spain, the co-host of espnW, wrote, "After watching these women play, I can honestly say I respect the heck out of them as athletes, but I'll still never respect the Lingerie Football League, no matter what name they give it."
Some players responded ambivalently or positively to the uniforms, with one quoted as saying "I just appreciate playing football, I don't care what they put me in", and another favoring the limited clothing, saying "It's more comfortable this way." LFL players with experience in track and field competitions noted that the typical LFL uniform is comparable to other uniforms, with Elizabeth Govrick of the Minnesota Valkyrie stating she "ran track and I was wearing, you know, stuff if not close to almost smaller than what I'm wearing out on the football field. You take beach volleyball, you take volleyball, you take other sports where it's pretty much the same thing." Adrian Purnell of the Jacksonville Breeze said that the outfits were only for marketing purposes. Heather Furr, a quarterback for the Chicago Bliss said "I think with little girls watching the game ... if they can see past the uniform and see us as role models, then that's what I want." Abbie Sullivan of the Cleveland Crush stated, "just because we play in the LFL does not mean we promote promiscuity. We are smart females. We are athletes who take care of our bodies. We are the total package." Similarly, Toledo Crush player Marija Condric stated, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Sit down and watch. You’ll forget what we are wearing and you will be thinking about how hard that girl got hit on that last play."
Other players are quoted as viewing the uniforms as a necessary evil, with one saying "Maybe one day, girls won't have to wear lingerie to get people interested [in women's football]." Liz Gorman, a player with the Jacksonville Breeze, stated she would rather wear a conventional uniform: "I mean, I don't like it. You'd rather wear full clothing. I have a bunch of scrapes on me."
The league was accused in its earlier years of fining players for wearing too many clothes, as well as not paying medical bills for injured players. However, the league responded by claiming that fines were given because the equipment worn was in direct conflict with the league's sponsored gear.
The league also prohibited players from commenting on personnel matters, a rule that prompted the vast majority of the Toronto Triumph, including team captain Krista Ford, to quit in protest in October 2011. Originally a professional league with players receiving a cut of net revenue, Mortaza stopped paying his players beginning in the 2011 season and converted the league into an amateur organization; players must also pay for their own health insurance. League founder Mortaza admitted at one point the league was marketed toward "mostly beer-drinking college students aged 21 and up."
The league received many complaints from players in regards to safety. Since the uniforms covered very little skin, the players are more susceptible to injury. Ex-lingerie football player Nikki Johnson was one of the many players that experienced injuries in her time in the league including injuries sustained from hard hits and a broken wrist that required surgery.
|BC Angels||Abbotsford, British Columbia||Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre||2012|
|Regina Rage||Regina, Saskatchewan||Brandt Centre||2012|
|Saskatoon Sirens||Saskatoon, Saskatchewan||Credit Union Centre||2012|
|Toronto Triumph||Mississauga, Ontario||Hershey Centre||2012|
|Team||City||Venue||Stated to debut|
|Calgary Fillies||Calgary, Alberta||Stampede Corral||2013|
|New South Wales Surge||Sydney||Centrebet Stadium||2013–14|
|Queensland Brigade||Gold Coast||Skilled Park||2013–14|
|Victoria Maidens||Melbourne||AAMI Park||2013–14|
|Western Australia Angels||Perth||nib Stadium||2013–14|
|Team||City||Venue||Stated to debut|
|Adelaide Arsenal||Adelaide||Coopers Stadium||2014–15|
Ten teams played in the inaugural 2009–2010 LFL season. The league schedule ran from September 4, 2009, to January 29, 2010, with one game each Friday. Teams played one game each against the other four teams in their conference. The top two teams in each conference advanced to the conference championship games held on February 4, 2010, in Miami, and the conference champions played in Lingerie Bowl VII on February 6, 2010. The Western Conference Los Angeles Temptation defeated the Eastern Conference Chicago Bliss by the score of 27–14. The LFL held its first "All-Fantasy Game" on June 10, 2010, in Monterrey, Mexico. The Eastern Conference defeated the Western Conference, 36–14.
For the 2010–2011 season, the LFL added new franchises in Orlando and Baltimore, while the New York Majesty and Denver Dream suspended operations. The 2011 Lingerie Bowl was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 6, 2011. The Western Conference champion Los Angeles Temptation defeated Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia Passion, 26–25.
The 2011 All-Fantasy Game was held in Hamilton, Ontario on July 30, 2011, at Copps Coliseum. Trailing 18–6 in the second half, the Eastern Conference rallied to win, 24–18, over the Western Conference. Anonka Dixon, quarterback for the Orlando Fantasy, was awarded offensive MVP for her 3 touchdown passes and game-winning rushing touchdown, while Liz Gorman, a safety with the Tampa Breeze, was named defensive MVP.
The LFL accepted five expansion franchises – the Cleveland Crush, Green Bay Chill, Las Vegas Sin, Minnesota Valkyrie, and Toronto Triumph, while the Dallas Desire, San Diego Seduction, and Miami Caliente suspended operations. The season kicked off on August 26, 2011, and culminated with Lingerie Bowl IX on February 4, 2012. The LFL Eastern and Western Conference championship games were played back-to-back on January 28, 2012, at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California. For the second straight year, the Los Angeles Temptation won the Western Conference championship while the Philadelphia Passion won the Eastern Conference championship, setting up a rematch in the 2012 Lingerie Bowl of the previous year's championship game. The 2012 Lingerie Bowl was played at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, in the afternoon prior to the start of Super Bowl XLVI. The Los Angeles Temptation won its third consecutive Lingerie Bowl with a 28–6 victory over Philadelphia Passion. The Temptation's Ashley Salerno and Amber Reed were co-MVP's, with Salerno throwing three touchdown passes and Reed scoring two rushing touchdowns.
In 2012, the LFL expanded its annual "All-Fantasy" game into a three-game international series, with one game in Mexico and two games in Australia. The Mexico All-Fantasy Game took place on May 5, 2012, at the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City; the Western Conference defeated the Eastern Conference, 37–7. The second match of the "2012 LFL All-Fantasy Tour" took place in Brisbane, Australia, on June 2, 2012, at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre; the Western Conference again emerged victorious, this time by a 45–36 score. The Western Conference took a 3–0 series sweep with a 31–24 victory in the third and final "All-Fantasy" match in Sydney, Australia, on June 9, 2012, at Allphones Arena. Queensland native and wide receiver for the Los Angeles Temptation Chloe Butler served as the ambassador of LFL Football coming to Australia and captained the Western Conference squad. The LFL then helped found the Ladies Gridiron League in Australia to serve as a minor league for the announced LFL Australia expansion.
For the 2011–12 LFL United States season, the All-Fantasy Game was played in Hamilton, Ontario. This was due in part to the league's announcement that in 2012 there would be a Canadian Lingerie Football League. LFL Canada was originally scheduled for a twelve-week season with teams in six markets.
On September 28, 2011, it was announced that, in addition to the Toronto Triumph who began play in LFL United States, LFL Canada's other five markets would consist of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City, and Montreal; ironically, none of those five markets would actually get an LFL franchise. On February 9, 2012, the LFL announced that Abbotsford, British Columbia, would be the next Canadian city to host a team in the League. The franchise played its home games at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre and competed in the Western Division of LFL Canada. On February 20, 2012, the LFL announced that the franchise would be named the BC Angels following the results of an online fan vote. The decision for Abbotsford to host a team sparked some controversy, including expressed concern from at least one city councilor, as "Abbotsford is a deeply religious agricultural community."
On February 22, 2012, the LFL announced that Regina, Saskatchewan, would be the next Canadian city to host a team in the League. Home games would be played at the Brandt Centre. On March 6, the LFL announced that the franchise would be named the Regina Rage after an online fan vote.
Six days later, on February 28, the LFL announced that Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, would join Regina as LFL Canada's second team in the Wheat Province. Home games would be played at the Credit Union Centre. Upon releasing the Saskatoon Sirens' logo and colors, the league announced that LFL Canada was set at four teams for the 2012 season, with the league playing an eight-game schedule, scheduled to end with Lingerie Bowl I Canada the week before the Grey Cup.
The 2012 LFL Canada season began on August 25, 2012 and culminated with Lingerie Bowl Canada I on November 17, 2012, between the Saskatoon Sirens and the BC Angels at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The BC Angels won the inaugural championship game 25–12 with BC Angels' quarterback Mary Anne Hanson and receiver Aleesa Garcia named as the game's MVPs.
On December 15, 2012, the first annual Pacific Cup was played between the Seattle Mist of LFL US and the BC Angels of LFL Canada. Dubbed the 'Border War', the game was hosted by the Seattle Mist at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington, with home venues alternating each season.
The league delayed the next LFL US season from fall/winter 2012 to April 2013 in order to shift to a spring/summer schedule and to focus on the 2012 LFL Canada season. The LFL accepted two expansion franchises – the Omaha Heart and the Atlanta Steam. The Toronto Triumph switched leagues, joining LFL Canada for its inaugural 2012 season, while the Orlando Fantasy officially suspended operations, again leaving the league at 12 teams. The Tampa Breeze relocated to Jacksonville, Florida and were renamed the Jacksonville Breeze. The 2013 LFL US season began on March 30, 2013. The Philadelphia Passion advanced to their third straight championship, renamed as the Legends Cup, against the Chicago Bliss with the Bliss winning 38–14.
On June 27, 2013, the 2013 LFL Canada schedule was released. LFL Canada accepted one proposed expansion team, the Calgary Fillies; their home games would be played at the Stampede Corral. Meanwhile, the Toronto Triumph suspended operations for the 2013 season, bringing the number of LFL Canada teams back to four. On September 16, 2013, the LFL then postponed the entire 2013 LFL Canada season until 2014.
However, the BC Angels were expected to participate in the second-annual Pacific Cup, an exhibition game between the Angels and LFL US's Seattle Mist scheduled for December 2013. On October 3, it was announced that the Angels would be replaced in the game by the LA Temptation, citing not enough preparation. The Pacific Cup was played at ShoWare Center on December 6, 2013. Several key players from the Angels joined the Mist while a few key players from Las Vegas Sin joined the Temptation.
Following the two All-Fantasy games held in Australia in 2012, LFL Australia premiered in December 2013. Prior to the playing a game, the LFL's deal with the Ladies Gridiron League (LGL) fell through and the LGL no longer served as a minor league to the LFL. The New South Wales Surge, Queensland Brigade, Victoria Maidens, and Western Australia Angels participated in the inaugural 2013–14 LFL Australia season. The LFL Australia Legends Cup was played on February 8, 2014, at nib Stadium in Perth, Western Australia.
On March 23, 2014, LFL Australia accepted one proposed expansion team, the Adelaide Arsenal, with home games to be played at the Coopers Stadium. However, on September 29, the 2014–2015 season was cancelled due to the lack of a broadcast partner with competition planned to resume in 2015–2016 including an expansion into New Zealand.
In February 2015, it was revealed that the players and coaches had actually left after disputes and issues with LFL management, namely commissioner Mortaza. Players and coaches left and joined the Ladies Gridiron League, originally a subsidiary of the LFL now operating as its own league.
On September 16, 2015, Austin, Texas, received an expansion team for 2016 to play at the Cedar Park Center and the name was announced as the Austin Acoustic. On November 2, it was announced that Dallas, Texas, would rejoin the league in 2016 after being on hiatus since the end of the 2010–2011 season, retaining the Dallas Desire name, at Dr Pepper Arena. The Las Vegas Sin then suspended operations. On November 12, the league announced a final team for the 2016 season, called the New England Liberty out of the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire
During the season, New England was forced to forfeit its final game as injuries caused the team to have below the minimum number of players needed to field a team. Seattle won a three-way tie with Dallas and Los Angeles for the best record in the Western Conference while Chicago had the best record in the Eastern Conference. Chicago and Atlanta advanced to the playoffs in the East while Seattle and Dallas advanced in the West. Chicago and Seattle won their Conference Championships and advanced to the Legends Cup in a rematch of both the previous championship and a meeting earlier in the season though with the opposite result of those two prior matches. The season ended on August 27, 2016, with the Chicago Bliss defeating the Seattle Mist 31–26 to win their third Legends Cup. The championship game was played at WestWorld in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The 2017 season began with new teams at Pittsburgh and Denver replacing New England and Dallas. Three teams (Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle) completed the regular season with perfect 4–0 records, a first in LFL history. Chicago and Atlanta advanced to the playoffs from the East while Seattle and Los Angeles advanced in the West. Atlanta upset Chicago in the Eastern Conference Championship, their first victory against the Bliss following seven consecutive defeats. In a war of unbeatens, Seattle bested Los Angeles in the Western Conference Championship. The season ended on September 3, 2017, as the Seattle Mist beat the Atlanta Steam 38–28 in the Legends Cup, played at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, to cap off their perfect 6–0 season to go with their second LFL title.
The season began with the new Nashville Knights replacing Pittsburgh in the East. Nashville courted controversy by recruiting half of the 2017 champion Seattle squad as free agents prompting the league to create a new rule limiting teams to only five free agents (Nashville had to give up two of the seven who then returned to Seattle). The Eastern Conference dominated the West in most match-ups and both the Chicago Bliss and Nashville Knights finished the season with 4–0 records. In the West, the Austin Acoustic pulled off an upset against the Atlanta Steam and quickly rose to become the new conference leader in stark contrast to their winless 2017 season. Chicago and Nashville advanced to the playoffs in the East relegating Atlanta to its first post-season absence while 2–2 Austin qualified for its first playoff appearance. Austin was accompanied by the 1–3 Los Angeles Temptation, the first team to do so with a losing record (discounting the 2016 Atlanta Steam that finished 1–2 without its forfeit win from the New England Liberty). Chicago and Austin won their conference championships and advanced to the 2018 Legends Cup. On September 8, 2018, at the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park, Texas, Chicago beat Austin 28–20 to complete a perfect 6–0 season and win their fourth Legend Cup championship in six years.
The 2019 season was the tenth and final season of the Legends Football League. It began April 5 and concluded on August 10. Late in the season, the league eliminated the conference format and played as a single table. The Seattle Mist won their third Legends Cup title.
The LFL was restructured as the X League for the 2020 season with all teams taking on new identities. However, the season never took place amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing back the X League's inaugural season to at least 2021.
In 2010, MTV2 licensed the broadcast rights to 20 regular season and two conference playoff games and aired highlights of those games on a program entitled LFL Presents: LFL, Friday Night Football on MTV2. For the 2011–12 season, MTV2 also broadcast the championship game, in addition to presenting the games in their entirety and broadcasting them live at 9:00 PM ET.
In 2015, Fuse became the exclusive broadcaster of LFL games in the United States. Games are broadcast on a week-delay basis on Saturday nights, and are later uploaded to YouTube on Fridays. In the Fall, Oxygen premiered the reality series, Pretty. Strong., which focuses on the lives and careers of the Chicago Bliss. The show was produced by Relativity Television.
In 2017, Super Channel became the exclusive Canadian broadcaster of all LFL games through the 2019 season. Super Channel used the LFL to launch its "Super Channel SPORTS" sub-brand for all sporting and events and sports-themed programming. Meanwhile, Eleven Sports Network acquired the broadcast rights to the LFL in the United States.
It lasted for a year, before being shutdown and repackaged in 2013 as LFL PartyDeck.
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