When news first broke about Angela Rypien working out at quarterback for the Lingerie Football League‘s Seattle Mist, I wrote that I’d do my best to keep up with the story as it developed. I was half-joking about it; the Redskins hook is that Angela Rypien is the daughter of Mark Rypien, MVP of Super Bowl XXVI and quarterback of one of the best offenses in Redskins history, but that barely seemed enough to warrant coverage here. It felt like an interesting aside in a historically slow offseason, but maybe not much more.
And then I spoke to the younger Rypien about her new gig, and — just like when I spoke to former Redskins linebacker Matt Sinclair about his stint coaching in the LFL — was struck by how seriously she takes the game.
“I think when people hear the name, they don’t exactly understand, or they kind of just turn their nose up,” Rypien says. “Just hearing about ‘Oh, lingerie,’ they don’t expect us to be playing real football and know that it’s full contact. It’s something that all of us are in just for the love of it, so I think it’s important for people not to judge until they really know about it.”Fair enough. Here’s the crucial bit of what you need to know: the game is two seventeen minute halves of seven-on-seven on a fifty yard field, and there’s no punting or field goals. That’s the nuts and bolts; you can see a few more specific rule notes here.
For the elder Rypien, that fifty yard field would’ve been an all-you-can-throw buffet. In 1992 Mark Rypien threw 28 touchdowns (plus four more in the playoffs) on a 100 yard field; six of them went 50 yards or longer, and Rypien gained a reputation for throwing one of the prettiest long balls in the league. It’s a reputation that Angela believes she might be able to uphold.
The short passing game is just one of the things that Rypien is learning in the run-up to the LFL season (which begins in September). While she says that she’s played pretty much everything at some point or another, Rypien has never been a quarterback for a football team before, and she’s quickly finding out how much that position entails.
“Learning the plays, learning everyone else’s plays — as a quarterback, you need to know that,” Rypien says, “that’s something that, before I started playing, I honestly didn’t think about. I just figured I’d be throwing the ball. It’s something that I’m picking up fairly quick, but — even outside of practice, it’s just about staying on your game. It’s more like a lifestyle. You just have to mentally be mature, mentally prepare yourself. It’s a 24/7 job, pretty much.”
So far, her father is being supportive but not offering any specific pointers on running the position. “He seems pretty interested,” Rypien says. “He knows that I’ve always loved football, so he thinks it’s great that I’m doing something that I’m passionate about.”
Which isn’t to say that there’s no connection. Despite the much smaller audiences — the Mist are expected to play in front of sold-out crowds of 6,000 or so — Angela Rypien is pretty keenly aware that she’s carrying on a family tradition. “There obviously the last name — which I definitely don’t see changing any time soon,” she says, laughing. “I’m kind of carrying that on. And, obviously, the position I play, and hopefully I’ll be getting the same number. That’s something I’m pushing for right now.” (The team hasn’t yet issued numbers, as the final roster hasn’t been set.)
One thing that Mark very much didnt’ have to deal with is the whole “Lingerie” part of the “Lingerie Football League,” and that’s something that Rypien is somewhat ambivalent about.
“It’s funny how different people see it,” she says. “Some love it, some people hate it, but to us it’s just another sport.”
The LFL airs its games on MTV|2, and Rypien is keenly aware that the L in LFL is one of the reasons that her performances will be televised when people in other women’s leagues haven’t been so fortunate.
“There’s been a women’s football league around for a long time,” Rypien says, “but it’s not televised and it doesn’t get as much credit as it should. So it’s hard, because [the lingerie] is probably one of the things that does drag people in and does get people’s attention. But once you get past that — I’ve talked to a lot of the girls and they said it takes a good five minutes in the game to see — it’s, ‘Wow, we’re playing really good football, sometimes even better than the boys do.’”
Which is a big deal for Rypien, who grew up in a football family, being told that she could throw well — and, of course, “not like a girl” — but who never expected to find a future in that ability.
“My cousin Brett Rypien,” she remembers, “[my family] would watch him and they’d say, ‘Oh, god, he’s gonna be great in high school, he’s gonna be great in college, he might do something with this,’ and then when I’m doing great and getting similar remarks … you can’t really do anything with it. It’s just awesome that I have this opportunity now, and can really have fun with it. I think that’s the thing: I love football.”
She loves football enough that she still watches film of her father’s career, including the magical Super Bowl season of 1991, which she was too young to remember. (“I was an infant then,” she says dryly, when I ask about it.)
Starting this September, coincidentally the twentieth anniversary of Mark Rypien’s greatest season as a pro, he’ll be able to watch film of her as well.
Tags: angela rypien, lfl, lingerie football league, mark rypien
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