ATHLETES' TOGAS BY ORAZIO COUTURE
HAIR BY SARRA'NA
MAKEUP BY GLENN MARZIALI
LOCATION: PARADISE COVE
What do you get when you put assorted Pro Bowl players, skimpy togas and a topless swimsuit model in a sacred pool? Trouble, that's what! Not a lot of trouble, not Court TV trouble, although who knows how things might have gone if Tony Gonzalez had gotten those mai tais he kept hollering for. Still, any time a tribal spiritual leader has to appear on the Hawaiian sand for a throw-down, you kind of know things have gotten out of hand.
It started innocently enough. The plan was to gather some of the NFL's elite, have them pose in the surf with Heidi Klum and kick up their heels a little, then shoot some pictures. Amazingly, it was no trick whatsoever to gather a whole Heidi Herd of them. A few players demurred on account of six-packs gone to pot in the weeks since the season ended (thus no quarterbacks, no offensive linemen). A few others balked when presented with a strange swimsuit wrap that was supposed to evoke a Grecian theme (in Hawaii?). One or two wondered what their wives might think—"My wife's a good ol' Indiana gal," protested Ravens' free safety Rod Woodson, who modeled anyway.
But just about everybody came around to the idea in no time. It might be something about the whole Pro Bowl atmosphere that—notwithstanding the $15,000 premium for each member of the winning team—is more idyllic island getaway than All-Star death match. "You notice," said Tampa Bay Bucs safety John Lynch, who was making his third trip, "that players don't blow off the Pro Bowl." Opponents consort giddily on the beach at Ko Olina; the idea of competition dissolves in the tropical torpor.
In these circumstances players become unguarded, accessible and even cheerful, willing to slip on a minitoga and slide into the drink with Heidi. "Anything you can do on a beach," explains San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens, "is fun. Now, add a supermodel...." That was the thinking, almost to a man. So, as we said, it was no big deal to raid a practice session, bring two or three players at a time back to Paradise Cove, stand them up alongside Heidi and make 'em smile real good.
Well, Tampa Bay running back Warrick Dunn did put on a little show of stardom: glowering when he had to wait for his shoot, talking on his cell phone and refusing to autograph Heidi's ball beforehand. Then, when he was plopped on the beach for his shoot, he petulantly scrawled his name in the sand, not especially mindful of its—or his—impermanence.
He wasn't the trouble, though. See, there was this idea for one of the pictures, in which Heidi was...(mothers, cancel your subscriptions right now)...topless and stood discreetly behind Owens and Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor. It was artfully done and will probably sell a lot of the swimsuit she wasn't wearing. But you just aren't supposed to do that in a sacred pool. Oddly, 305-pound Lions defensive tackle Luther Elliss could have been topless there (well, no he couldn't; see the six-pack requirement above), but not Heidi. The spiritual guardian who happened to show up for the shoot objected, said maybe if she could have given the cove a proper blessing, the gods might have smiled on the scene, although probably not as leeringly as Taylor and Owens did at that moment.
So Heidi changed into her next suit, and that was that, as far as trouble went. If the gods didn't smile on the scene, they must have at least signed off on it, because there was no apparent rebuke. A soft breeze continued to blow through Heidi's hair, and warm water lapped at everybody's ankles. Neither gods nor Warrick can stay mad on a Hawaiian beach. Warrick, whom Heidi had laughing at himself in no time, signed that ball after all.