Chicago Bliss quarterback Heather Furr truly one of a kind

As the Chicago Bliss approach their 2016 season opener, with ambitions towards a fourth consecutive appearance in the Legends Cup finals, such effort may truly be an Amazonian task. Among their loyal fans, there is a tremendous sense of emptiness, sullen feelings, due to the absence of quarterback Heather Furr, whose offseason retirement shall certainly alter the balance of power.

While the LFL stands for Legends Football League, there is no question that Furr embodied the meaning of the word legend.
Definitely the greatest player to have donned the Bliss colors, Furr combined a breathtaking beauty and athletic ability that translated into pulse pounding results, while showing strong leadership and an unwavering loyalty to her team. While many of her contemporaries only played the quarterback position, Furr also excelled as a defensive back. Throughout her career, she would constantly make her presence felt on the league’s leader board in both offensive and defensive categories, enhancing her status as a franchise player.

One of the first superstars in franchise history, she not only helped elevate the quality of football throughout the league, she helped usher in a golden era for female football in Chicago. Along with Samantha Grisafe, a quarterback for the WFA’s Chicago Force, the two field generals consistently kept their club in contention for a championship. The pinnacle of their careers simultaneously took place in 2013, when both achieved the status of champion, as Chicago became the first city to win a WFA and LFL title in the same season.

The jubilation of 2013 would continue with the accomplishment of another title in 2014 for the Bliss. Led by Furr once again, the Bliss would become only the second team in league history to claim consecutive league championships. During this momentous time, Furr’s friendship and loyalty shone through.

Despite an injury nearly ending her career, Alli Alberts would make an amazing comeback, joining Furr in the rarified air of superstardom. Such a rise was not only admirable for her courage to come back after a crushing hit by Ashley Salerno, it was a turning point in franchise history. Alberts would prove to be the final piece in the championship puzzle for the Bliss. Like Furr, Alberts had the ability to excel on both sides of the field.

Such skill placed the Bliss in a position to dethrone the Los Angeles Temptation, and emerge as the league’s finest. Perhaps more importantly, it proved to be the beginning of a strong mutual respect between Alberts and Furr. Of note, Furr became more than just a mentor to Alberts, but a big sister as well. Alberts represented the future of the franchise and the potential to emerge as an ambassador for the league. There is no question that the presence of Furr enabled to both to excel without feeling burdened by the demands of leadership, complementing each other’s skills, yielding winning results.

Quite possibly the greatest quarterback in the history of the LFL, Furr was also a nominee for the league’s Hall of Fame, an honor that must be destined in her future. Part of her legacy in the game was the fact that she also brought instant credibility to LFL Canada. Playing alongside rival Anne Erler (of the Green Bay Chill), the two represented the meaning of dream team as they led the Saskatoon Sirens to the regular season title. Although they only played together in Saskatoon for one season, they certainly made an impression in the football-mad city.

Such an impression was also evident in Chicago as Furr was the only signal caller the franchise ever knew. Although Furr would enhance her status as a pop culture icon as the Bliss were featured on the docu-drama Pretty Strong, there was an ominous foreshadowing. Not only was Furr’s desire to start a family among the themes in the program, a revelation had been made that she briefly retired but returned due to the love of the game. While the program would prove to be her swan song, her legacy with the club shall always remain intact.

Suddenly, the new reality is that the club must move on without Furr, an heiress to her quarterbacking crown not yet definite. During the off-season, the club had acquired “Super” Sindy Cummings, classified as a free agent after the contraction of the Las Vegas Sin. If any quarterback had the potential to ease the transition, it would have been Cummings. After talented signal caller Nikki Johnson (who also played one season in LFL Canada with the Regina Rage) opted for the WFA, Cummings took the reins as a rookie and showed exceptional poise. With great charisma and a fan friendly demeanor, she provided a steady presence on offense for the Sin. The Bliss should have been the extension of her career, helping the Bliss transition into a new era, while allowing her a chance to win a title. Sadly, her “retirement” complicated the quarterbacking picture.

If there is one guarantee for the Bliss this season, it shall be that the organization shall deeply miss her. Although fans can only hope that one day Furr shall return to the game either as a coach or on-air personality, they will always be in gratitude to the exceptional skills that she displayed on the gridiron. Surprisingly, a member of the Bliss was assigned the number 15 this season; Sara Finn. One could argue that only one person in Bliss history deserves to wear the number 15 and that like Furr; the number should also join her in retirement.

All-star free agent class brings determined expertise to Omaha Heart

At the beginning of the 2015 Omaha Heart season, there was an ominous feeling as only three members from the 2014 roster had returned. The result was a disastrous first half of the season, suffering the worst loss in Legends Football League history, a 79-0 whitewash at the hands of the Atlanta Steam.

Despite such heartbreak and disappointment, there was a feeling of encouragement when some familiar faces were welcomed back into the fold; running-back SarahJane Thompson and center Sarah Robinson. Adding to this momentum was the announcement that three former league All-Stars were joining the Heart as free agent acquisitions.

Among them were two-way player Heather Hudson, whose contributions helped transform the Baltimore Charm into an Eastern Conference contender. Joining her were quarterback Anonka Dixon, whose last team was the Orlando Fantasy, and former Minnesota Valkyrie competitor Leekplay Paye.

While Robinson and Paye helped anchor a defensive line that never truly recovered from the loss of Jacqueline “Wolverine” Smyth (among the league’s top five tacklers in the last two seasons), Hudson was found in the defensive backfield with the likes of Amanda Hogan and Jenna Holt. In their debut together, which resulted in a 40-0 loss against the Chicago Bliss, the unit managed the highlight of the game as they were able to stop Heather Furr five yards short on a fourth down possession.

It certainly resulted in a roar of approval from the loyal fans at the Ralston Arena. Despite some other signs of improvement on defense, it was the offense that struggled.

Considering that there was little time to learn the offense, Anonka Dixon struggled miserably. Compounded by the fact that the league’s defenses have evolved into a much tougher and faster unit, raising the level of brutal efficiency, Dixon’s three-year absence showed. With due deference to the Heart, the acquisition of a second quarterback such as Angela Rypien or Arika Lynne, who both played in starting roles last season may have alleviated the woes.

Unfortunately, the Bliss defense stymied Dixon, who only managed to complete one of six passes on the night. Turnovers continued to be the story on offense as Dixon was intercepted by Alli Alberts on their second possession. As a side note, Alberts would also intercept her in the second half. Hudson provided some heroics on offense, providing a valiant performance on both sides of the ball. Following the interception, she managed a fourth and goal rushing attempt that placed the Heart just two yards short of the end zone, which would have been their first touchdown all season. Hudson also accounted for Dixon’s only successful completion in the game, an eight-yard passing play.

On the opposite end of the field, the Bliss used the opportunity to experiment with their passing game, a direct rebuttal to the critics who claimed the Bliss were too dependent on the running game. Going to the air 71 percent of the time, quarterback Heather Furr completed 15 of 25 passes, while successfully connecting on four touchdown passes. In a superlative second half, she tossed touchdown passes to Chabria Survillion, Alli Alberts, and rookie Stephanie Murry.

Another benefit of the Bliss opting for the passing game was the discovery of rising star Alli Alberts showing versatility with a strong receiving performance. Logging six receptions for 60 yards, she has established herself as a reliable receiver should the Bliss require such an option in the postseason as their victory clinched the Eastern Conference title.

In the aftermath of a fourth consecutive loss, the one positive to be gained is the fact that the Heart attempted to salvage their season with the acquisition of star talent. Not only did it display a commitment to improve their roster, but it was a show of gratitude towards a fan base that is loyal to the core. With close to a month to prepare for the next match, there is a sense of optimism that better performances are ahead. Although the postseason is officially out of reach, the Heart may be at their most dangerous. Possibly employing a “nothing left to lose” mentality, it shall provide the opportunity for younger players to obtain more experience while obtaining valuable insight from the acquired all-stars. Of note, the Heart’s next match shall take place on July 10th against the Atlanta Steam, while a rematch with the Bliss takes place on August 8th.

Dazzling Deena Fagiano a fan favorite with the Chicago Bliss

On a Chicago Bliss team possessing a remarkable amount of talent on both offense and defense, Deena Fagiano is a tireless contributor in search of a third consecutive Legends Cup title. An All-Fantasy selection at the Tight End position, Fagiano is an extra weapon on a high-octane offense that features a superlative running game with Chris’Dell Harris.

In terms of veteran leadership and seniority with the team, Fagiano has much in common with Heather Furr. After the league did not feature any regular season games in 2012, there was a remarkable amount of league-wide turnover among player rosters. Both Fagiano and Furr held the distinction of being members of the Bliss in the pre- and post-2012 eras. From playing alongside the likes of Danielle Moinet (who is known today as WWE Diva Summer Rae) and Nadia Larysa (who would appear in Playboy) in the early years, to the championship era with the likes of Alli Alberts and Kim Perez, Fagiano has seen the franchise experience significant growth.

Postgame jubilation at the Thomas and Mack Center after a road win against the Las Vegas Sin (July 2, 2014 - Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America)

Postgame jubilation at the Thomas and Mack Center after a road win against the Las Vegas Sin (July 2, 2014 – Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America)

When TMZ Sports, in conjunction with the LFL, released a list of the 50 Hottest Athletes of All-Time, Fagiano was ranked at number 34, testament to her popularity. Although she may certainly rank number one in the hearts of her fans. As a side note, eight current and former Bliss players were ranked among the Top 50, one of the highest numbers among the league’s numerous franchises.

Like so many of her teammates on the Bliss, Fagiano is an articulate, college-educated individual whose intelligence matches her beauty and athletic ability. When not on the gridiron, her career consists of being a Sales Consultant, working in the medical field.

Custom made Topps football card of Deena Fagiano by Johngy (Image obtained from: http://www.johngysbeat.com/2014/04/celebrity-jersey-cards-168-heather-furr.html)

Custom made Topps football card of Deena Fagiano by Johngy (Image obtained from: http://www.johngysbeat.com/2014/04/celebrity-jersey-cards-168-heather-furr.html)

An alumnus from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Fagiano earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 2011. The collegiate experience would positively shape Fagiano’s strong leadership skills, which have molded her into an integral member of the Bliss roster and a charismatic fan favorite.

Of note, Fagiano’s experience as a member of a Sorority, helped instill the values of teamwork, while her status as a member of the National Communication Honor Society reflected motivation and perseverance. The ability to find the opportunity to donate her time for fund raising activities which benefitted the Children’s Miracle Network spoke volumes about her dedication to the community.

Having captured the imagination of fans, friends and teammates alike, Fagiano’s team-first approach makes the opportunity for others to call her teammate a very special part of the football experience. Although her pair of league championships represent the defining moments in her storied career, the admiration shown towards her as a strong leader and valued friend are just as relevant in her gridiron legacy.

Kim Perez an underrated superstar for two-time champion Chicago Bliss

With a presence that has contributed to the Chicago Bliss capturing two consecutive league championships, Kim Perez has established herself as a key member of its roster. In each season that she has played with the Bliss, they managed to successfully navigate their way to the pinnacle of their sport.

On a Bliss team that features elite quarterback (and franchise player) Heather Furr, along with the very powerful running back, Chris’Dell Harris, who bulldozes through opposing defenses almost effortlessly, it would be easy to overlook Perez. Compounding this is the fact that the club also features several younger players, including Conference All-Stars Alli Alberts and Hallie Jiskra, both possessing girl next door looks.

Quite possibly the most underrated superstar not just on the Bliss, but in the entire league of play, Perez quietly goes on, with an ethereal serenity and a calm demeanor that erupts into punishing play on the field, always giving her team a chance to win. Statistically, Perez has emerged as one of the league’s leaders in tackles for the last two seasons. With results that speak for themselves, Perez is truly an essential (and perhaps invaluable) component on a top-ranked Chicago defense.

Also a talented softball player, Perez is one of many two-sport stars that currently grace the gridiron. Having manned centerfield for the University of the Cumberlands Patriots in Williamsburg, Kentucky, she graduated with program records for hits and stolen bases. During the 2006 campaign, she was recognized as an honorable mention for the 2006 and 2007 Mid-South All-Conference Team. Her senior season (2007) may have been her finest. Perez led the Patriots with 49 hits and 20 stolen bases, displaying a great combination of speed and skill at the plate. This was complemented by registering 56 total bases.

While at Cumberlands, she also delved into flag football, a sport that continues to grow in popularity with young women throughout college campuses in North America. Representing the university at numerous tournaments, she would prove to be a key factor in their success. In one tournament, she would score a touchdown against the Pink Ladies from the University of Virginia at Wise in a 12-0 win. The second round game saw Perez receive two touchdown passes, contributing to a solid 36-12 win. By tournament’s end, Perez was named Tournament MVP while leading Cumberlands to a victory.

Such success would form the beginning of a solid football career. From 11-on-11 outdoor football to indoor glories with the Chicago Bliss, it was certainly no coincidence that the Bliss would capture two titles in her first two years there.

Bringing strong versatility to the gridiron, Perez can excel at both the linebacker and defensive back positions. While Perez has mentioned online that she is more comfortable at linebacker, her ability to compete at either position allows the coaching staff the luxury of adding creativity to their defensive attack.

Of note, Alberts and Furr are the only players on the Bliss that compete on both sides of the football. Taking into account Furr’s value as quarterback (at which she is the league’s finest), injury can be avoided by having her play exclusively at the position against certain opponents. Such a move may prove crucial in the club’s ambitions towards a third consecutive championship.

Knowing that Perez can adequately fill in at the defensive back position (where Furr is just as talented) certainly adds to her possible perception by fans that she is the team’s good luck charm. Although she is a naturally born athlete, one could argue that she was destined to wear the Bliss colors.

Working in Champaign, Illinois, a chance encounter resulted in Harris walking into Perez’s place of work. Quickly, a conversation about sport developed with Perez discussing her initial sojourn into football, especially her experiences in a full contact 11-on-11 league. An intrigued Harris would invite Perez to a tryout, setting the stage for a key piece in assembling the Bliss’ championship puzzle.

Articulate and college-educated, the gridiron glories have not only extended the athletic endeavors of Perez, but it has served to introduce her to an entire new fan base. A great competitor and an ambassador for the game, the Bliss have a gem in Perez, whose efforts certainly make the dream of three championships in a row very real.

Strong season for Chicago Bliss culminates in second straight indoor football championship

For the second consecutive season, the Chicago Bliss held off pressure from Western Conference rivals Los Angeles and Seattle to finish in the championship picture. With 2013 Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia having folded in the off-season, a new opponent would rise to challenge the Bliss for indoor football supremacy.

Led by multi-sport star Jodie Nettles and rookie quarterback Dakota Hughes, the Atlanta Steam would grab the Eastern Conference crown in only their second season. In addition, head coach Dane Robinson would earn Coach of the Year honors. Defeating an ambitious Jacksonville squad led by two-way threat Saige Steinmetz, the Steam were hoping to complete their dream season by overcoming the defending league champs.

Once again, Heather Furr established herself as the heartbeat of the club. Known affectionately as Rockstar, her poise relieved the burden of pressure that accompanies high expectations. Complemented by the veteran presence of Chris’Dell Harris on the Bliss’ offensive attack and Kim Perez anchoring the defense, their 5-0-1 mark paced all teams in female indoor football.

Quarterback Heather Furr proudly shows off the Legends Cup in center field of Chicago's famous Wrigley Field (Image obtained from Facebook)

Quarterback Heather Furr proudly shows off the Legends Cup in center field of Chicago’s famous Wrigley Field (Image obtained from Facebook)

Of note, Harris finished as the league’s rushing and receiving champion. Her 621 rushing yards was more than double the amount of yards accumulated by runner-up Saige Steinmetz (who ran for 305 yards). Leading all Bliss players with eight touchdowns (four receiving and four rushing), she was a key reason that the club outscored opponents by an average of 30.3 to 18.3 points. In addition, the club posted impressive marks of 63% on third down conversions, followed by a remarkable 86% conversion on fourth down.

By season’s end, Bliss players finished in the top five of all six major statistical categories (passing, rushing, receiving, tackles, sacks, interceptions). Despite the Bliss adopting more of a rushing game, Heather Furr finished as the third-ranked passer in the league.

Kim Perez, who tied with teammate Yahshi Rice for the league lead in sacks (Chantel Taylor would rank fourth), also finished second in league play with three interceptions. Atop the leader board in tackles was Dominique Collins, recording 29.5 tackles. Not far behind was Rice, ranking third in tackles.

The road to the championship began with a May 9 match against Los Angeles, one of the first dynasties in indoor female football. A 25-21 win on home soil was followed by a rare occurrence. Hosting the Seattle Mist, another title contender, the contest ended in a 34-34 draw.

Travelling to Las Vegas for the third match of the season, the Bliss managed to overcome rookie sensation Sindy Cummings and prevailed with a hard-fought 27-18 victory. This was followed by the renewal of their storied rivalry with the Green Bay Chill on July 23.

Unfortunately, the rivalry lost a distinct feeling with the absence of quarterback Anne Erler. As a side note, Erler and Furr were teammates on the Saskatoon Sirens. Competing against another rookie quarterback, the Bliss made a strong statement, emerging victorious in a convincing 32-7 win.

After a 3-0-1 regular season, the Bliss travelled to Ontario, California for the Western Conference title game against Los Angeles. With LA looking for their fourth title in franchise history, they were hoping that home field advantage would work in their favor. After defeating their rivals, the Seattle Mist, they were not able to overcome a well-rested Bliss team. A 40-12 victory for Chicago was a victory worthy of their status as an elite club.

Returning to Ontario for the championship game against Atlanta on September 6, it would prove to be a hard-fought match. Only holding a two-point advantage at halftime with an 8-6 lead, Chicago would manage to hold on for a nail-biting 24-18 tally after four quarters of play. While the Steam played valiantly, they managed to earn the respect of fans and foes alike, a significant accomplishment.

The second straight title solidifies Furr’s legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in female indoor football. It was no surprise that she was one of four finalists for the inaugural indoor female football Hall of Fame. Along with the impact of the Chicago Force in the Women’s Football Alliance, the Bliss have contributed to a remarkable period of female football in the Windy City, which may be unrivaled for years to come.

Tale of the 2013 LFL Championship Tape: Christy Bell and Heather “Rockstar” Furr

Heading into the 2013 Legends Cup, two of the hardest working quarterbacks in the league shall get the opportunity to claim their first-ever title. Christy Bell of the Philadelphia Passion has played in the LFL title game in 2011 and 2012, coming up short both times at the hands of the Los Angeles Temptation. Heather “Rockstar” Furr is a multiple LFL All-Fantasy selection looking to bring the Chicago Bliss franchise a title.

FurrBell

In terms of numbers, Furr holds a key advantage as a rusher. She has accumulated 138 rushing yards with a sparkling 4.5 yards per carry. Bell is more of a pocket passer, having only logged 31 yards on only 16 rushing attempts.

Having led the Philadelphia Passion to their third consecutive conference championship, Christy Bell is an accurate passer with the ability to pick apart a defense. With a 55.3 passing percentage, she has thrown for 277 yards and eight touchdown passes, while only being intercepted twice. Her postseason experience gives her a key advantage against Furr.

Bell scrambling for yardage (Image obtained from Facebook)

Bell scrambling for yardage (Image obtained from Facebook)

In comparison, Furr has thrown for less yardage (219 yards) and fewer touchdowns (five) but has not been intercepted once. While her completion percentage is slightly higher than Bell’s, her advantage is the ability to excel in the running game.

While Bell has a stronger focus on offense (playing almost exclusively as quarterback), Furr is not afraid to pull double duty on the LFL gridiron. Also competing as a safety, it is very possible that she could intercept one of Bell’s passes. Should she manage to pick off her opposing quarterback, it could spell the difference between winning and losing.

Furr’s path to the championship game was one filled with drama and redemption. After an opening night loss against the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Temptation, the season could have easily collapsed. Instead, the Bliss finished unbeaten for the remainder of the regular season.

Victories against Nikki Johnson’s Las Vegas Sin (34-12 on May 10) and division rival Minnesota (25-12 on July 26) placed Chicago in the hunt for a playoff spot. With an emotional road game against Anne “Showtime” Erler and the Green Bay Chill (Furr and Erler were teammates in LFL Canada), Furr emerged victorious with a 27-18 win.

One of the most emotional images in LFL history. Christy Bell distraught after a 26-25 loss to the LA Temptation in 2011 (Photo credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

One of the most emotional images in LFL history. Christy Bell distraught after a 26-25 loss to the LA Temptation in 2011 (Photo credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The first postseason game saw Furr with the opportunity to redeem herself against the Los Angeles Temptation. With the match in Chicago once more, Furr was matched up against LA’s championship quarterback Ashley Salerno. Exacting revenge for the opening night loss with a 19-12 victory, Furr brought an end to the Temptation’s dynasty.

Bell warming up prior to the 2012 LFL Championship game (Photo: Ethan Miller Getty Images)

Bell warming up prior to the 2012 LFL Championship game (Photo: Ethan Miller Getty Images)

Ironically, Bell’s postseason also ran parallel to Furr’s. While Bell gave a strong performance with touchdown passes to Lindsay Nadonly and Lauren La Bella, Philadelphia’s first game of the season ended in a 20-19 loss to the Baltimore Charm.

Bell would get her rematch against Baltimore in the postseason as the two played for the right to be named Eastern Conference champions. Facing a 13-0 deficit at halftime, Bell engineered a comeback that resulted in scoring the game-tying touchdown in the game’s dying seconds. In another 20-19 final, Bell would lead Philadelphia to their third straight conference title.

During practice at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois (Image by Rich Hein, Chicago Sun Times)

During practice at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois (Image by Rich Hein, Chicago Sun Times)

Competing against the undefeated Seattle Mist in the conference championship game, Furr and her Bliss teammates also faced an underdog situation. Although the Mist were competing in their first-ever postseason match, expectations were high as Seattle boasted a powerful offense. While Laurel Creel matured into a fine quarterback for the Mist, her inexperience showed against the seasoned Furr as Chicago emerged with a 31-14 win.

While Philadelphia’s Marirose Roach employs a lateral style which adequately handles the running duties for the Passion (she has logged 450 rushing yards), Bell’s strength is the ability to find receivers in pressure situations. While Maegan Larsen (Philly’s receiving leader) has also lined up behind centre, she utilizes the position to take direct snap runs, another unique aspect of the Passion’s offense.

While the rushing and defensive strengths of Furr give her the advantage over Bell, the 2013 LFL postseason has been defined by upsets and unexpected outcomes. Regardless of the outcome on September 1, the unfolding history of LFL brings with it the opportunity for another elite quarterback to be named champion.

Elite quarterback Heather Furr looking to win her first-ever LFL Championship

Having pulled off a remarkable upset against the undefeated Seattle Mist, Heather “Rockstar” Furr is looking to stake her claim as the greatest quarterback in the LFL. Playing in the 2013 LFL Championship Game versus the Philadelphia Passion, Furr is looking for her first-ever title.

Coming off a 2012 LFL Canada season where her club team, the Saskatoon Sirens was defeated by the BC Angels in the league’s inaugural title game, Furr has an insatiable hunger to claim the elusive championship.

Scrambling against the Minnesota Valkyrie (Image from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-5rT8RJM-XL.jpg)

Scrambling against the Minnesota Valkyrie (Image from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-5rT8RJM-XL.jpg)

The highlight of that 2012 campaign was the opportunity to play with rival quarterback Anne “Showtime” Erler of the Green Bay Chill. While Erler took most of the snaps behind center, Furr showed true team spirit by competing at the wide receiver position, emerging as one of the finest.

Ironically, Furr’s path to the 2013 LFL postseason would come in a contest against Erler’s Green Bay squad. With emotions running high, Furr emerged as the victor, leading the Bliss to a 27-18 road victory on August 10.

Getting ready to hand off the ball versus the Las Vegas Sin (Image from: http://www.lflus.com/games/las-vegas-sin-vs-chicago-bliss/attachment/directorleague-photographer-153)

Getting ready to hand off the ball versus the Las Vegas Sin (Image from: http://www.lflus.com/games/las-vegas-sin-vs-chicago-bliss/attachment/directorleague-photographer-153)

Furr’s season is one that has been defined by leadership and character. After a devastating home opener on April 19 at the Sears Centre Arena that saw the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Temptation prevail by a 31-18 tally, the Bliss have gone undefeated. Outscoring opponents by a combined 136-68 score during the unbeaten streak, Furr has shown the poise that makes her a serious candidate for league MVP honors.

Perhaps the most versatile quarterback in the LFL, Furr is also a remarkable weapon in the Bliss’ running game. Heading into the title game, Furr has rushed for 138 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per game. Complemented by four rushing touchdowns, she is capable of turning the tide in her team’s favor for any game.

In addition to her offensive versatility, she is also a force on defense. As a safety, she has logged 23.5 total tackles (18 were solo) along with four interceptions. The opportunity to intercept Philadelphia quarterback Christy Bell in the LFL championship game may be the factor that determines the winner.

Definitely the emotional favorite heading into the big game, her path towards the championship game runs parallel to Sami Grisafe, quarterback of the Chicago Force in the WFA. Both women’s football heroes in the Windy City, their 2012 seasons ended with championship game losses. Like Furr, Grisafe was a long-time elite quarterback working hard to make her championship dreams come true.

In 2013, Grisafe would finally earn a long awaited championship as she led the Force to an undefeated season and the WFA national title. Whether lightning will strike twice with Furr is yet to be determined but there is definitely some strong momentum as the women’s football fans of Chicago have been spoiled by two elite quarterbacks.

Future star Kari Janes offers promising future for maligned Minnesota Valkyrie

In a season that saw a beleaguered and maligned Minnesota Valkyrie franchise take a step backward, there was one rookie that offered a glimmer of hope for the future; quarterback Kari Janes. The 23 year-old quarterback played with great heart and determination as she led one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the Legends Football League.

Standing at 5’7” and a lean 135 pounds, Janes was stoic during a difficult 0-3 start that saw the Valkyries outscored by a 103-20 margin. Despite a 37.5 completion percentage, along with seven interceptions, Janes looks very comfortable lined up behind center.

Like many of the competitors in the Legends Football League, Janes brings an athletic background to the gridiron. With a soccer background, she has the powerful legs and the endurance to keep up with the most vicious defenders in the league. The endurance and tenacity that she brings to the gridiron of the LFL was cultivated from her performances on the soccer field.

Having played with the Concordia St. Paul Golden Bears, she had several highlights in her career. From contributing two goals in a win over rival Northwestern College to competing in the first-ever athletic match at Sea Foam Stadium, she graduated from the Division II School in the top ten lists of numerous categories of the soccer program.

Some of the more notable categories that Janes ranked in with the program included sixth all-time with 32 points and fifth all-time with 13 goals. Testament to her toughness and determination includes ranking third in shots attempted, third in game winning goals, fourth in games started and second in minutes played.

She established herself as one of the league’s finest rushers. In only three games, was like a lioness as she challenged defenses. With 205 rushing yards on only 34 attempts (for an average of six yards per carry), she supplied 79 percent of Minnesota’s offense in 2013. The Valkyrie would outgain opponents in rushing yards by a 261-225 margin. Competing at the most demanding position in football, Janes ability to break out and emerge in the running game is reminiscent of fellow quarterbacks Nikki Johnson and Anne “Showtime” Erler.

While Minnesota’s dismal season was only natural with the losses of former LFL All-Fantasy selections such as Cydney Froehlich and Whitney Meierotto, Janes is a building block for the future. With veterans like Laurie Jo Miller and Leekplay Paye are still on the roster, it helps to ease the burden of expectation that may fall on Janes’ shoulders.

In her LFL debut, a rushing Janes tries to avoid Anne Erler of the Green Bay Chill (Image obtained from:  http://www.lflus.com/games/minnesota-valkyrie-vs-green-bay-chill/attachment/directorleague-photographer-78)

In her LFL debut, a rushing Janes tries to avoid Anne Erler of the Green Bay Chill (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/games/minnesota-valkyrie-vs-green-bay-chill/attachment/directorleague-photographer-78)

Her first game of the season was a baptism of fire as she competed on the road on May 11 against Anne “Showtime” Erler of the Green Bay Chill. Despite the 40-8 loss, Janes played with a dogged determination. With both bringing intensity to the game, the feeling of a passing of the torch to the next generation was predominant.

Displaying true tenacity, Janes evaded many would-be tacklers, while scoring her first career touchdown in the dying minutes of the game. In a show of irony, her final pass of the game was picked off by Erler (who also pulls double duty as a defensive back). Although her rookie inexperience showed against a proven performer like Erler, it was an admirable debut in the LFL ranks.

Despite a seven-week gap between their first and second games, Minnesota was crushed by the Seattle Mist on the road. Competing against one of the top-ranked teams in all of the LFL, Janes showed no fear. While the crowd at ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington is by-far the most intimidating,

Airing it out in a road contest against the unbeaten Seattle Mist (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/070613_MINvsSEA_EP_2017-XL.jpg)

Airing it out in a road contest against the unbeaten Seattle Mist (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/070613_MINvsSEA_EP_2017-XL.jpg)

While the crowd at ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington is by-far the most intimidating, she managed to lead the Valkyrie into the red zone. Unfortunately, the squad endured the typical growing pains of a rebuilding team as the failure to earn points in the red zone led to a lopsided loss.

With the Mist having been in the league for only five seasons, their dominance is a sign of encouragement for Janes and a Valkyrie teammate that is in a rebuilding mode.

Rushing against the Chicago Bliss (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-H45dF3g-XL.jpg)

Rushing against the Chicago Bliss (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-H45dF3g-XL.jpg)

Her confidence improved in her home debut, a 25-12 loss to the Chicago Bliss. With an enthusiastic crowd at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Janes fired up the crowd as she hopes to renew the Northeast Division rivalry with the Bliss.

Competing against Heather “Rockstar” Furr, Janes was up against another of the league’s elite quarterbacks. As Furr is another star quarterback whose ability to run and make plays makes her time a contender, it was another lofty opponent for Janes to compete against.

Looking for an open receiver downfield versus the Seattle Mist (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/070613_MINvsSEA_EP_1525-XL.jpg)

Looking for an open receiver downfield versus the Seattle Mist (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/070613_MINvsSEA_EP_1525-XL.jpg)

With the home crowd behind her, Janes replied to Chicago’s first score of the game. Assembling an 8-play drive that consisted on 35 yards and a time-consuming 4:38 to frustrate the Bliss defense, Janes helped lead the Valkyrie to only their second touchdown of the season. With 38 seconds remaining in the first half, Janes displayed the poise that should transform her into one of the league’s elite field generals.

Hyped for pre-game introductions as she makes her home field debut in front of the Valkyries faithful at Target Center (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-GKbtCxx-XL.jpg)

Hyped for pre-game introductions as she makes her home field debut in front of the Valkyries faithful at Target Center (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-GKbtCxx-XL.jpg)

Despite tying the score, Furr showed why she is one of the most feared players in the league. She would only need five seconds to connect with ChrisDell Ferrari on a touchdown pass to head into halftime with the 12-6 advantage.

Although the seasoned Furr managed to bring Chicago to a 25-6 advantage, Janes showed tremendous character. Not giving up, she assembled a nine play drive consisting of 35 yards. With 2:12 remaining, she would run for three yards to score Minnesota’s second touchdown of the game. While Chicago would run out the clock for a win, Janes made a strong impression in front of the hometown crowd.

High fiving the fans after a hard-fought loss to the Chicago Bliss (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-LvRzqt4-XL.jpg)

High fiving the fans after a hard-fought loss to the Chicago Bliss (Image obtained from: http://www.lflus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/i-LvRzqt4-XL.jpg)

Although Janes was looking to win the final game of the season (a home date versus the Los Angeles Temptation), the contest had no implication on the league’s playoff picture. While the cancelleation prematurely ended the Valkyrie season, it was done as a preventative measure out of concern for injury.

For the disappointed fans, they can find solace in knowing that Janes is a future superstar and franchise player in the making. Her top five ranking in LFL rushing brings optimism to a franchise that can use it. While the rebuilding Valkyrie will likely have to endure another season or two of losing, the road to success may be one well worth it.

Anne “Showtime” Erler looks to propel Green Bay Chill into postseason

A 2011 road win against the Chicago Bliss resulted in Legends Football League history as the Green Bay Chill captured their first victory in franchise history. Led by quarterback Anne “Showtime” Erler, the win marked a great milestone for the franchise.

On August 10, 2013, Erler will look to provide heroics against Chicago once more. With Chicago sitting in second in the LFL Western Division, Green Bay is looking for a win to overtake them.

It should prove to be an emotionally-filled match for Erler and Furr. During the 2012 LFL Canada season, the two played together with the Saskatoon Sirens. Known affectionately to fans as Furrler, the duo led the Sirens to the best regular season record.

Erler was the league’s passing champion while Furr (her favorite receiving target) was the receiving champion. Although Furrler and the Sirens would lose to the BC Angels in the championship game, Erler would walk away as the first-ever LFL Canada Most Valuable Player.

The 2011 road win in which the Chill prevailed by a 36-34 tally put Erler and Furr in the spotlight as the two displayed their remarkable talents. With the remarkable legs of Erler, she would be the difference in the game as she accumulated three rushing touchdowns resulting in Green Bay marching out to a 28-14 lead. Chill starting running back Melissa DeJesus contributed with a pair of successful two-point converts.

While Furr and Harris brought the Chicago offense back into the game, tying the score, Erler showed tremendous grace under pressure. With the score deadlocked at 28-each, Erler masterfully led a superlative drive. Katie Zellner connected with Erler on a 12-yard touchdown with only 85 seconds remaining in the contest.

A two-point convert to Jessica Peyton would extend the lead to 8 points. Chicago quarterback Heather Furr took only 16 seconds to reply. She ran for a touchdown as there was 1:09 left on the clock. Looking to tie the score, Furr attempted to find Laura Petersen but was not successful. Proceeding with an onside kick, the Bliss were hoping to regain possession.

Recognized as that game’s Most Valuable Player, Erler will be a target for the Bliss in the August 10 contest. With all the intensity and drama of a playoff match, Erler will be needed to pass with precision and rush for crucial yardage.

Anne Erler (left) and Ana Heasman

Anne Erler (left) and Ana Heasman

Statistically, Erler is nothing short of remarkable this season as she leads the Chill in two key statistical categories; her 409 passing yards and 109 rushing yards pace all members of the Chill. Her 13 touchdown passes and three interceptions are complemented by a 136.3 passer rating.

Making a strong case as the 2013 LFL MVP, the six-foot tall Erler has a remarkable target in LFL receiving leader Anna Heasman. The 5’10” boisterous blonde receiver has a sparkling 196 receiving yards and seven touchdown receptions, respectively.

Chicago’s offense is led by the tandem of Heather Furr and ChrisDell Harris. While Furr is the LFL’s passing leader with a sparking 206 yards, Harris is the leading ground gainer with 271 yards. Perhaps more impressive are the six touchdowns that Harris has accumulated.

ChrisDell Harris (left) and Heather Furr

ChrisDell Harris (left) and Heather Furr

Complemented by her 52 receiving yards, Harris has 323 combined yards of total offense, making her the league’s most potent weapon on offense. The 5’9” dynamo will need to be at the top of her game should the Force hope to clinch a postseason berth.

As Erler and Furr are both safeties, the two know each other so well that other variables will need to be exploited in order for either side to claim a victory. Regardless of the outcome, the presence of Furrler on the field shall stimulate interest from LFL fans on both sides of the border, as the clash of these two LFL titans is destined to make this emotional contest a soon-to-be classic.