Are you ready for some lingerie football?
"The uniform gets them in the seats. The football keeps them here," says Los Angeles Temptation player Natalie Jahnke.
Garters, bras, and panties add a twist to the otherwise-typical football garb of helmets and body armor in the Lingerie Football League.
The full-contact, tackle league has found its recipe for success by mixing attractive, athletic football-knowledgeable women in skimpy uniforms with a dish of showmanship.
"It's usually people who haven't seen a game before," a league media director was quoted as saying when asked about critics of the sport. "If you watch a game, you'll see real football. They're wearing lingerie ... but it's boys sports shorts, a sports bra, a helmet and pads."
All the hard-hitting players have passed demanding tryouts to make the team, including wide receiver Gegi Van De Walker, 31, of Costa Mesa and cornerback Chelsea Haardt, 24, of Yorba Linda.
Van De Walker and Haardt play for the back-to-back defending champion Los Angeles Temptation, one of 12 squads that are part of the nationwide league.
"When I see women playing, I see skilled, tough women that work hard and have a passion to play football. I don't see some sissy, froufrou girls who are out there to look pretty," said Haardt.
The Cal State Fullerton graduate became passionate about football after first playing on a flag football team for her sorority.
After she graduated, Haardt looked around for a women's tackle football league she could join and discovered that the LFL was a good fit for her.
"It got the most media attention. It was already on the map," said Haardt.
Haardt has also incorporated football into her work life. She teaches flag football in an after-school program for elementary school children.
There is a variety of reasons the women get involved.
Van De Walker, a high school special-education teacher, explains why she's motivated ... it's fun.
She ran track at Orange Coast College and played in another women's football league before being drawn to lingerie-style football.
"I don't feel like I'm being exploited. I feel this is more about entertainment," she said. "I don't have a problem with the lingerie because we wear more than beach volleyball players.
"My family and friends support me a thousand percent," she said.
Van De Walker, who also competes in Brazilian jiu jitsu, says she's never been seriously hurt playing this smash-mouth style of football.
"If you're scared, you're are going to get hurt. That's usually the time when you do get hurt. There's always a risk but it's not something I focus on," she said.
The Lingerie Football League is in its third season. Active rosters are made up of 14 players. Seven-on-seven teams compete on a 50-yard field with no punts or field goals allowed. Teams must pass twice during each set of downs, and there are only two 17-minute playing periods.
This past season's teams representing major cities nationally have been battling it out to represent their conference in the league's championship game, Lingerie Bowl IX.
The popular Lingerie Bowl game inspired the concept of a full league.
After the Temptation defeated the visiting Chicago Bliss, 42-26, in its last regular season game Jan. 19, it advanced to the Lingerie Football League's Western Conference Playoffs against rival Las Vegas Sin at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario on Jan. 29.
Lingerie Bowl IX will be televised live pay-per-view on MTV2 from Las Vegas at 1 p.m. Feb. 5, the same day as the NFL's Super Bowl. The LFL has positioned its title game as counterprogramming to the Super Bowl halftime show.