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Lingerie Bowl in Las Vegas is ultimate fantasy football game

At halftime of Super Bowl XLV on Sunday, as most of America and a lot of the free world is getting up to use the restroom — and Black Eyed Peas fans swoop in to poach their seats — the Los Angeles Temptation and Philadelphia Passion will line up in their dainty things for Lingerie Bowl VIII at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Or, as I like to call it, the ultimate fantasy football game.

It’s the first time these goddesses of the gridiron have hitched their garter belts to Las Vegas, and one has to wonder what took so long?

Unless Hef retrofits the Playboy Mansion grotto with goalposts, one would be hard-pressed to name a more optimum locale in which to indulge post-pubescent fantasies of scantily clad women going deep over the middle — or even running off tackle — than Las Vegas.

Is lingerie football considered a sport? You bet.

MGM Resorts International oddsmaker Jay Rood has established the Temptation as 5½-point favorites and has set the over-under at 36½, the latter figure curiously coinciding with the physical attributes of the Passion’s offensive line.

Las Vegas adage No. 1: What happens here, stays here. With the exception of our minor league sports teams.

Las Vegas adage No. 2: If somebody says they are going to build a 40,000-seat domed stadium and rebuild half of the UNLV campus in doing so, you can choose to believe it or cough.

Las Vegas adage No. 3: If you can bet on it, it’s a sport.

Judging from the remarks and game faces of the players — lots of Bryce Harper-style eye black — at Wednesday’s media day, it would seem this is more about football to them than the other stuff, although the other stuff probably explains why more than 20,000 potential spectators have registered online for free tickets. One guess: 99 percent are men, with the other 1 percent comprising the players’ mothers and sisters and those who closely follow the LPGA Tour.

Mitch Mortaza, the founder and chairman of lingerie football, who looks and talks a bit like that Mike Damone guy who always was trying to sell concert tickets to his school chums in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” was effusive in his praise of the teams. Mortaza said each had “racked up” a 5-0 record to get here.

But that was the only double entendre of the news conference, and Mortaza, to his credit, didn’t wink when he said it. Even more to his credit: He didn’t try to sell me tickets to Cheap Trick.

Although this is Lingerie Bowl VIII, it is only the second time the game has featured “official” Lingerie Football League teams. The first six games had Pro Bowl-style all-star teams, with the only deviation being the lingerie players occasionally hit and tackled one another.

Mortaza also revealed the name and logo of the Vegas Sin, which along with the Cleveland Crunch and Green Bay Chill and a fourth expansion franchise to be named — another guess: not Salt Lake City — will give the LFL 14 teams for 2011. The Chill, Mortaza said, will play directly across the street from Lambeau Field. 

I would imagine the Resch Center’s version of the “Lambeau Leap” will be more enticing to those sitting behind the goalposts, if for no other reason than LFL interior linemen are not built like B.J. Raji.

A lot of the lingerie players are full-time students. Some are part-time cocktail waitresses. At least one is a football player with a nice … uh … understanding of the game.

There were two tents — one for players and one for cheerleaders — on youth football sign-up day in Chino Hills, Calif., the hometown of Temptation quarterback Ashley Salerno.

“I followed my brother to the football tent,” Salerno said. “All the guys said, ‘No, the cheerleader tent is over there.’ I said, ‘Uh-uh. I wanna play football.’ “

And so she did, until her sophomore year in high school, when she became a soccer goalie and earned a scholarship to Cal Poly Pomona.

One of the Los Angeles coaches told me the 20-year-old Salerno is the Aaron Rodgers of the LFL — young, strong arm, makes good decisions, hasn’t yet heard from Brett Favre.

But having seen her in her “uniform” and considering it’s only Thursday, there’s still time.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352.

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