For the majority of sports craved men, there’s precious few things in life greater than the mixture of beautiful women and football. Of course, for the most part it rarely if ever meant enjoying the two simultaneously.
That changed with the formation of the Lingerie Football League (LFL) in 2009. The eight team league featured big market franchises ranging from New York all the way to Los Angeles.
There’s palpable disparities in LFL football rules as opposed to one most enjoy watching on Sunday afternoons. For starters the field is only 50 yards long and 30 feet wide. End zones go eight yards deep instead of the traditional ten. Each team only has seven players on the field and instead of four 15 minute quarters, LFL rules call for a pair of 17 minute halves.
Oh, and there’s that one other thing. Instead of big, nasty linemen like Marcus Stroud and Kyle Williams fighting in the trenches, the poor fans in LFL arenas are subjected to having to watch scores of gorgeous women playing football in their lingerie.
Only in the LFL could decapitating a ball carrier be so attractive.
Speaking of attractive, Buffalo-born Taira Turley is a member of the league. Sure, she’s extremely easy on the eyes but don’t be fooled; she’s more than a pretty face and physique.
Turley, 28, just took up the sport a year ago and she’s already made quite the impact. A rookie linebacker with the Miami Caliente, Turley made the Eastern Conference All-Fantasy team as a starter at linebacker.
I got the chance to talk to Turley about her LFL season, Western New York upbringings and career ambitions. She spoke to me about getting molded into an athlete as a kid, moving down South and what she hopes the future will hold for her.
Buffalo Sports Daily: Tell us about growing up in WNY.
Taira Turley: I was born in the inner city of Buffalo. In fifth grade I moved to Orchard Park and in seventh grade I moved to Hamburg. Moving around was definitely a challenge having to leave friends and start fresh. I loved Orchard Park the most. My friends there were incredible and that’s where I began my life as an athlete. It all began in Middle School PE class with physical fitness tests. My PE teachers saw talent in me and pushed me in the right direction. There I played modified soccer and ran track and field. When I moved to Hamburg and attending Amsdell Middle School my life changed. While running modified track and field I was noticed by the Varsity track coach. He officially bumped me up from modified to varsity as a seventh grader.
BSD: You went to Frontier High School, and you played soccer as well as Track and Field. What was that experience like for you?
TT: Playing soccer and running track at Frontier High School was a great experience. I played soccer there for two years and indoor and outdoor track for four years. I enjoyed soccer as a way of keeping in shape for the track season; and not to mention it was a lot of fun. Track was my life. I ran indoor, outdoor, and summer. Our track team at Frontier High School was unbeatable we had so much talent. We were more like a family than just a track team.
BSD: At the time you broke five school records in track, and competed in State Championships, Junior Olympics and Nationals. You were quite the budding track star?
TT: I hate to toot my own horn but I was a very talented track runner. I loved the sport but my heart wasn’t in it to become an Olympic runner. I felt like I was doing it because it was something to do and something I was good at. While at Frontier, yes I broke five school records and competed in several championships. The records broken include the 4×400 meter dash, 4×100 meter dash, 400 meter dash, triple jump, and long jump. I competed in State Championships during the indoor and outdoor season. Nationals and Junior Olympics took place in the summer when I ran for my summer league called the New York Jets.
BSD: You Attended South Carolina. How was that experience?
TT: Attending The University Of South Carolina Columbia was a culture shock. It made me realize how different the North truly was from the South. Needless to say, I only attended one year there. After that year, I moved back to New York and later moved back to the south and attended college in Charleston, SC.
BSD: You eventually became a makeup artist. What made you want to pursue that field?
TT: Ever since I could remember I’ve always been infatuated with makeup. When I was a little girl, I would take my mom’s makeup and experiment. During the Easter and Valentines holidays she would give me baskets filled with makeup. I guess I love the beauty that’s created after the fact and all the different looks.
BSD: You moved to Atlanta and you began modeling as a stepping stone for moving closer to your career goal. What was your modeling experience like?
TT: My modeling career was mas’ or menos’, meaning more or less. I didn’t have the passion for it like most girls. I loved the makeup and would rather watch the artist do makeup.
BSD: Your first “break” was a makeup artist position for the reality show, Miami Ink.
TT: Yes my first “break” was the TV show Miami Ink. I did makeup for a girl while continuing makeup classes pro bono. The Producers and Executive Producers loved my work and I was on set the next day. It was a great experience I loved the crew and it was definitely great exposure.
BSD: You play for the Miami Caliente franchise of the Lingerie Football League. What made you want to try out?
TT: My best friend was already on the team the year before they had an actual season. At that time it was just Lingerie Bowls. She was trying really hard to get me to move back to Miami and mentioned the Lingerie Football League. I researched the league and realized it would be a great opportunity. In all honesty, I didn’t have my hopes up on making the team. Tryouts were only days away and I’d never touched a football before. I gave it my best shot and I’m proud to say I’m #20 of the Miami Caliente.
TT: Yes and actually you are missing a position (laughs). I am a Middle Linebacker, Center, and Defensive Captain. After I made the team I wanted to play running back. I never got the opportunity so I went over to defense and gave it my all. I have always been very aggressive but now I really know I love to tackle. My position at center kind of fell into my lap. Our center didn’t end up playing so I snapped a couple of balls during practice and here I am.
BSD: According to the official league website, you were credited with 31 tackles, a sack and forced fumble in five games. How intense is it out there with the hitting and everything?
TT: Well this is a touchy subject for me. My stats are wrong at this time. I have more tackles and sacks than shown but I still feel blessed with the amount credited. Each and every game I get teary eyed in the tunnel. It is such an honor to be there. The intensity on the field is endless. We are all out there not only to do a job but also to prove ourselves to our fans that we can play true tackle football. I couldn’t have gotten a better position with the team. I’m aggressive and I love to hit.
BSD: When you’re playing football is there a lot of animosity towards the other team? Is there a lot of trash talking?
TT: Yes absolutely there is animosity towards other teams. We measure each other up when we’re in the stadium together. I like to pick out which girl is my target. I’m not a big trash talker though. I’d rather perform on the field to show my talent rather than talk about it. “Action speaks louder than words
BSD: How would you describe the fans reaction to the young ladies playing football out there? There’s some I’m sure who enjoy the sport, while at the same time there’s plenty of men in the stands there to check out the beautiful women and could care less about the sport aspect of it.
TT: I truly believe that our fans initial intent is to come to our games and see girls in tiny outfits rolling around on the field. But once the ball is kicked off they see us in a different light. They see the intensity and the heart we have out there. At that point, it becomes to them a true football game. They look beyond the beauty and lingerie.
BSD: Your team went 2-2 on the season, made the playoffs and lost to Chicago in the Eastern Conference final. How hard did you take the loss?
TT: I took our loss to Chicago during the playoffs very hard. This was our chance to prove to them after the first loss that we had the better team. Even though we didn’t come out with a win, I’m so proud of my team for making it that far. In the beginning of the season, we were always looked as the “underdogs”. We proved that we were a great team and we could rise above the rest.
BSD: You were named to the Eastern Conference All-Fantasy Team as a starting linebacker. How did that accolade feel and did it make all the work you put in feel worth it?
TT: When I found out that I made the Eastern Conference All-Fantasy Team I was ecstatic. I believe when you work hard you get rewarded. Being a rookie, It means so much and it is a huge accomplishment.
BSD: How are good are some of these female athletes? Break the stereotype for us if you will. Tell our readers that these girls are a lot more than a pretty face and hot body.
TT: A lot of the girls in the LFL are not only amazingly beautiful but very athletic and talented. We work so hard to prove that we can play football. Take for instance, my quarterback Anonka Dixon. She’s been playing football since the age of six. She can throw the ball accurately 60 yards. I have never touched a football until this year. I’ve caught on fast enough to have had a successful season. They don’t call me “The Train” for nothing. (laughs)
BSD: During your rookie year, did you suffer any injuries or were you fortunate enough to only have the typical bumps and bruises that the typical football player goes through?
TT: I sustained three moderate injuries. I have tendinitis in my right elbow from game one, and two sprained thumbs that are healing slowly.
BSD: Who are your favorite football players and your favorite teams?
TT: My favorite football players are Ray Lewis, who I’m also nicknamed after (Ms. Ray Lewis), Jon Beason (Carolina), and Stephen Tulloch (Tennessee). Of course they are all linebackers. My favorite team is the Vikings. The Vikings has so many awesome players and not to mention I know a great deal of them.
BSD: Being a girl who grew up in Western New York, how are you enjoying living down South? Where exactly are your living right now?
TT: Being from WNY and living down South is different but I’ve been down here long enough to fit in. I love the weather, although I miss skiing. I’m currently in between Miami and Atlanta. I lived in Atlanta for almost seven years so it’s hard to let go. Honestly, if it wasn’t for football I probably would not have moved back down there.
BSD: What are a couple of things you enjoy doing when you’re not on the football field?
TT: When I’m not on the field I love to relax, go shopping with friends, have luncheons, and travel
BSD: Do you got the male football players hitting on you all the time?
TT: (Laughs) this is hilarious but very true. Not only do male football players like pretty girls, but they love the fact that we have something in common. I can be a girly girl but I can also kick back with the boys and watch football games. They like the fact that I know the game; more than just when a team scores a touchdown.
BSD: Do you get the sense it’s a little intimidating for the average guy to approach you at times? Being a woman attractive enough to play football in lingerie yet knock someone’s head off if they’re caught coming across the middle of the field.
TT: I believe it would be a little intimidating for the average guy to approach me, but it shouldn’t be. I’m very down to earth. When I step onto the field that’s when intimidation comes. At that time, I’m in game mode and ready to make lots of tackles.
BSD: You’re still under 30 years old. What are your long term goals?
TT: My goals include playing a couple more years of football and taking my makeup artistry to the next level. I would like to continue my career as a makeup artist and see the future LFL football Players on the Red Carpet.
BSD: What do you miss most about Buffalo?
TT: What I miss most about Buffalo is my family and friends. When you grow up with a set of people your friendships are genuine. My dad Frederick Turley Sr. still resides there along with my Grandpa and Grandma Suto. I haven’t visited home in seven years ,making me well overdue. Hopefully, I can make it to Buffalo this summer.
(Taira Turley has her own website. Check her out at Taira Turley’s Official Website.)