The Toledo Crush and the Legends Football League made their Glass City debut on Saturday night before a crowd of approximately 400 at the Huntington Center.
“We were hopeful for a bigger crowd, but we do understand that a lot of people were waiting after the first game was canceled,” Crush running back/defensive back Tamar Fennell said after a 54-27 loss to the Baltimore Charm.
“Now we’re expecting an even bigger crowd for the next game. I’m still very happy for the fans that came out, but we’re expecting at least double the next time.”
A majority male crowd showed up to witness the women’s indoor football league formerly known as the Lingerie Football League.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for more photos from the game
They saw two teams wearing bikinis, shoulder pads, and helmets playing football on the 50-yard artificial turf. They also saw two teams that played tackle football with the same kind of aggressive and physical effort you would typically see.
For the fans, the reviews generally seemed positive.
Elizabeth Poland of Toledo came out to see the Crush a week after traveling to the Windy City to watch the Chicago Bliss play.
“I’m going to try out for the Crush next January,” Poland said. “I went all the way to Chicago to watch the Chicago Bliss play and didn’t even know that Toledo had a team.”
Poland, who grew up wanting to play football, said she found out about the Crush earlier in the week.
She was disappointed in not seeing a bigger turnout, but believes the Crush have the potential to draw better.
“It wasn’t advertised,” Poland said. “I own some businesses, and I can tell you if it was advertised better, there would be a bigger crowd. I think this would be huge if it was advertised right.”
Poland said she doesn’t see anything wrong with the women playing football in bikinis as their uniforms.
“It’s no different than beach volleyball,” she said. “I believe a lot of people who have a bad impression of this are probably insecure people.”
Perrysburg resident Ryan Drown came out with some friends to see the Crush in their first game in Toledo.
“I’m cheering for No. 9,” said Drown, referring to Crush lineman Lulu Jackson, a 5-foot-11, 180-pounder caught a couple TD passes. “I think the turnout is a little disappointing, but everyone here is into it.”
John Williams of Sandusky supported friends who play for the Crush.
“I like it,” Williams said. “I like the idea that it’s a league for girls because there wasn’t too many opportunities for girls originally to play football.”
Despite the loss, the Crush provided its share of moments that drew cheers.
Toledo quarterback Arika Hoffman found Fennell for a 35-yard touchdown strike down on the Crush’s first play from scrimmage.
Fennell also drew cheers when she stopped a Charm running back short of the end zone with a crushing hit on an extra-point try that led to Baltimore challenging the call. The replay official ruled Fennell stopped the ballcarrier short of the goal line.
Jackson's two TD catches were also crowd-pleasers.