Heather Furr part of historic season in Chicago women’s football

For the first time in women’s football history, the same city has won both the Women’s Football Alliance national championship and the Legends Football League’s Legends Cup. Having started with Sami Grisafe leading the Chicago Force to a title over the Dallas Diamonds, the bookend is Heather Furr with the LFL’s Chicago Bliss.

Photo credit: Eddie Perlas

Photo credit: Eddie Perlas

As the Force overwhelmed the Dallas Diamonds by a score of 81-34, the Bliss had the opportunity to complete the rare double. In their first-ever appearance in the Legends Cup, Furr and the Bliss did not relinquish their lead once in their win over the Philadelphia Passion.
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With the Passion led by Christy Bell (only the second quarterback to lead her team to three straight LFL title games), both teams were looking to win their first-ever Legends Cup. Having thrown two interceptions in her first three passes of the title game, Bell was unable to mount a comeback.
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Chicago Force celebrate their WFA National Title. The first of two women’s football championships for the Windy City in 2013. Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/chicagoforce/timeline?filter=3

Chicago Force celebrate their WFA National Title. The first of two women’s football championships for the Windy City in 2013. Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/chicagoforce/timeline?filter=3

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Statistically, Grisafe and Furr were among the elites of their respective leagues. Grisafe led the Women’s Football Alliance with 2582 passing yards, 32 touchdown passes and 158 pass completions. In addition, she finished third among WFA pivots with a 131.3 passer rating. She was the heartbeat of a Force offense that averaged 61.9 points per game during an undefeated season. Grisafe would finish her WFA season recognized as the Most Outstanding Player on Offense in her conference.
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Playing on offense and defense, Furr’s numbers were nothing short of solid. Furr ranked third in passing with a 91.2 passer rating. With a 52.6 completion percentage, she also contributed with 5 rushing touchdowns to rank second on the Bliss.
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defensively, she was also a force to be reckoned with. Her 29 total tackles led the squad while tying for first in all of LFL. In addition, her 4 interceptions also tied for first overall. It was hardly a surprise when she was recognized as the LFL’s Most Valuable Player for 2013.
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Heading into the season, there were several unique parallels between Furr and Grisafe. Ironically, both have worked as bartenders in order to pay the bills. From a football perspective, both were renowned for their leadership and presence, although neither pivot had led their football team to a championship.
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In 2012, Grisafe led the Force to the 2012 WFA National Title Game against the San Diego Surge. Contested at Heinz Field, it was the first WFA title game held in an NFL stadium. Despite a high octane offense, the Force was bested by a Surge team led by Jessica Javelet.
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Furr spent her 2012 with the Saskatoon Sirens of the Canadian division of Legends Football League. While Furr contributed primarily as a receiver and defensive back (due to Anne Erler as quarterback), she was a key factor in the Sirens qualifying for the league’s championship game. Despite being regular season champions, Furr and her teammates were defeated by the BC Angels.
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In the first game of the 2013 LFL season, the Bliss was defeated 31-18 by the three-time defending champion Los Angeles Temptation. Despite the disappointment, Furr and the Bliss showed great composure, enjoying a six-game winning streak that culminated with the league championship. Victories over key opponents such as Las Vegas, division rivals Minnesota and Green Bay (which features Erler) were complemented by postseason redemption versus LA and an upset of the undefeated Seattle Mist. <p>
Perhaps Furr’s greatest legacy was her ability to help legitimize the LFL as a true sport. With a college basketball background, Furr is one of the athletes who proved that there was substance beyond the visual stimuli.
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Although the NFL’s Bears might be the king in Chicago football, the fearless females of the gridiron have shown that women are equally capable of providing high quality, entertaining football. Complemented by the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory earlier this year, Chicago has once again emerged as the City of Champions.
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While there were other women like Ashley Berggren with the Force and ChrisDell Harris with the Bliss that were instrumental in their team’s title wins, the pressure and expectation that comes with winning and losing rests solely on the quarterbacks shoulders. Despite the pressure, Grisafe and Furr handled it with grace and determination.
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While Grisafe has decided to retire from the WFA in order to pursue her singing career (she was part of the pre-Grammy nominations in 2013), female football fans can only hope that Furr is not ready to hang up her helmet just yet. Although female football is still in its growing stages, Furr and Grisafe were two of the game’s builders. Their determination helped to inspire and empower young female athletes to follow their dreams. These dual championships not only solidify the legacy of women’s football in Chicago, but their careers as solid leaders and strong women.

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