National Football League Cheerleading

National Football League Cheerleading, or simply NFL Cheerleading, is a professional cheerleading organization in the United States. 26 of the 32 NFL teams include a cheerleading squad in their franchise. Cheerleaders are a popular attraction that can give a team more coverage/airtime, popular local support, and increased media image. In 1954, the Baltimore Colts became the first NFL team to have cheerleaders. They were part of the Baltimore Colts Marching Band.

Most NFL cheerleading squads are a part-time job. Often, cheerleaders have completed or are attending a university, and continue on to other careers after cheering for one to four seasons. The members participate in practice, training camp, games, appearances, photo shoots, and charity events. Apart from their main duties of cheering during the football games, the cheerleaders have many other responsibilities. Nearly every team member is available for appearances at schools, events, conferences, etc., for a set fee.

An anticipated annual event is the release of each squad's calendar, featuring members for each month in swimsuits or uniforms.

As well as being a mainstay of American football culture, the cheerleaders are one of the biggest entertainment groups to regularly perform for the United States Armed Forces overseas with performances and tours being enlisted by the USO. Teams send their variety show, an elite group of their best members, to perform combination shows of dance, music, baton twirling, acrobatics, gymnastics, and more. In February 2007, the Buffalo Bills even sent a squad of eight along with their choreographer into the war zone of Iraq. In 1996, the San Francisco 49ers Cheerleaders and their director helicoptered into the war inflicted country of Bosnia with the USO and the U.S. Army. The U.S. troops in Korea have been entertained during the holiday season with the USO's Bob Hope Tour. Over the years, the tour has featured NFL cheerleaders from the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.

In 2018, the first male dancers were added to National Football League Cheerleading.[1][2]

Cheerleader competitions

The first "Battle of the NFL Cheerleaders" was held in 1979 in Hollywood, Florida. Two cheerleaders from each cheerleading team compete against other mini-teams in various athletic events. The events include kayaking, 100 yard dash, obstacle courses, and other events. The Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders took home the title in 1979. In 1980, it was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey and the Washington Redskinettes were the champions. The winners were Shiona Baum and Jeannie Fritz, and each received a car as the grand prize. The competition was resurrected in 2006 by the NFL Network, and was called NFL Cheerleader Playoffs. The playoffs were taped between July 17 and July 21, 2006 at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts. Two-person teams of cheerleaders from 25 of the NFL's 32 teams participated in a four-event series of competitions. The first two events tested the cheerleaders' athletic abilities in events like the 100-yard dash, kayaking, tandem cycling, and the obstacle course. The third event was a trivia challenge called "Know Your NFL." The final competition was a one-minute dance routine, similar to what they normally perform on NFL sidelines. The San Diego Chargers team (Casie and Shantel) defeated the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Rams squads to win the overall championship. The 3 teams finished in a three-way tie, with 210 points. The Chargers were declared the winners based on winning the dance competition.


Listed by name, with corresponding NFL football team.

Current or Last Name Year Established and Former Names NFL Team
Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders 1964–1987 St. Louis Cardinals Cheerleaders
1988–1993 Phoenix Cardinals Cheerleaders
1994–present Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders
Arizona Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders 1969–1976 The Falconettes
1976–present Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders
Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Ravens Cheerleaders 1998–present Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo Jills 1960–1965 Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders
1966–2013 Buffalo Jills
Buffalo Bills
Carolina Topcats 1995–present Carolina Panthers
Chicago Honey Bears 1976–1985[3] Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Ben–Gals 1976–present[4] Cincinnati Bengals
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders 1962–1971 CowBelles & Beaux
1972–present Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders[5]
Dallas Cowboys
Denver Broncos Cheerleaders 1971–1976 Bronco Belles
1977–1980 Pony Express
1993–present Denver Broncos Cheerleaders
Denver Broncos
Detroit Lions Cheerleaders 1963-1974[6]
2016–present Detroit Lions Cheerleaders[7]
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers Cheerleaders 1957–1961 Packerettes
1961–1972 Golden Girls
1973–1977 Packerettes[8][9]
1977–1986 Sideliners[10]
1987–2006 University of Wisconsin–Green Bay cheerleaders
2007–present UWGB and St. Norbert College cheerleaders
Green Bay Packers
Houston Texans Cheerleaders 2002–present Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders 1954–1983 Baltimore Colts Cheerleaders
1984–present Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville ROAR 1995–present Jacksonville Jaguars
Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders 1964 Chiefs Cheerleaders
1971-85 Chiefettes
1986–present Chiefs Cheerleaders[11]
Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Charger Girls 1960s–70s Chargettes
1990–2016 San Diego Charger Girls
2017–present Los Angeles Charger Girls[12]
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders 1974–1994 Embraceable Ewes
1995–2015 St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders
2016–present Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders
Los Angeles Rams
Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders[13] 1966–1977 Dolphin Dolls
1978–1983 Dolphins Starbrites
1984–present Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders
Miami Dolphins
Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders 1961–1963 Vi-Queens
1964-1965, 1967–1983 The Parkettes (St. Louis Park High School)
1966 Edina High School and Mpls Roosevelt High School
1984–present Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders
Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots Cheerleaders 1977–present New England Patriots
New Orleans Saintsations 1967 Louisiannes/Saints Dancers
1968 Mademoiselles
1971 Mam’selles
1975–78 Bonnies Amies
1978 Angels
1987–present Saintsations
New Orleans Saints
New York Jets Flight Crew 2006 Jets Flag Crew
2007–present Jets Flight Crew
New York Jets
Oakland Raiderettes 1961–present[14] Oakland Raiders
Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders 1948–1970s Eaglettes
1970s Liberty Belles
1986–present The Eagles Cheerleaders
Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Steelerettes 1960–1969[15] Pittsburgh Steelers
San Francisco Gold Rush 1979–present[16] San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Sea Gals 1976–present[17] Seattle Seahawks
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders
1976–1998 SwashBucklers
1999–present Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders[18]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders 1975–1997 The Derrick Dolls
1998–present Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders
Tennessee Titans
Washington Redskins Cheerleaders 1962 Redskinettes
1963–present Washington Redskins Cheerleaders[19][20]
Washington Redskins

Teams without cheerleaders

Green Bay Packers Cheerleaders
The Packers collegiate squad in 2009

As of 2019, six teams do not have cheerleading squads: Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers do, however, use a collegiate squad to cheer at home games.[21] Super Bowl XLV between the Steelers and the Packers in February 2011 was the first time a Super Bowl featured no cheerleaders. The Browns and the Giants are the only NFL teams that have never had cheerleaders, while the other aforementioned teams have had cheer squads in the past. However, there are reports that the Browns did have cheerleaders in 1971, but no records exist.[22]

The Buffalo Bills endorsed the officially independent Buffalo Jills from 1966 to 2013; when several cheerleaders sued both the Bills and the Bills organizations, the Jills suspended operations.[23]

Teams of "unofficial" cheerleaders began emerging in 2010 for NFL teams that don't have their own dance squad. These unofficial cheerleaders aren't sanctioned by the NFL or any franchise in the NFL and therefore are not allowed to perform at games, represent the football team at any outside functions, or use any of the team's branding or trademarked colors on their uniforms. The teams are sponsored by local businesses, and the cheerleaders perform prior to the game, at tailgate parties, and other local events. Some also attend the local NFL games in uniform, and sit together in their block of season ticket seats. Their audition process, costuming, and choreography are very similar to official NFL cheer teams. Some also produce an annual swimsuit calendar, just like the legitimate cheerleaders. All of the independent teams hope at some point to be embraced by the NFL as "official" cheerleaders of their local teams.

  • The Detroit Pride Cheerleaders were the first independent professional team, put together in August 2010 to support the Lions.[24] However, as the squad was not officially recognized by the Lions, it could not use the Lions' logos nor colors.[25] In 2016, the Lions started an official cheerleading squad.
  • The Gotham City Cheerleaders were organized in August 2011 to support all New York sports, but are most closely associated with the Giants. The team has also been known as the New York Unofficials, the Unofficial Dancers of the New York Giants, and the Gotham’s Team Blue Army Dancers.[26]
  • The Cleveland Spirit Cheerleaders were created in September 2012 to support the Browns as a test team to attract fan interest.[25] This cheer team was created by the same people responsible for the Detroit Pride.[27]

Criticism and controversy

There have been criticisms that NFL cheerleading is sexist[28][29][30], exploitative[31], and outdated.[32]

In addition, several cheerleaders have sued their respective teams for violating minimum wage laws, mistreatment from management, and exploitative rules and behaviors.[33][34][35][36]

However defenders and proponents of NFL Cheerleading have stated that cheerleading helps young women engage with the NFL at the highest level, provide the NFL with role models for its female fans, and are a cost-effective way of promoting a team at events.[37]

NFL spokesperson David Tossell in 2013 defended NFL cheerleading by stating, "Cheerleading has a long tradition in the majority of American sports at both professional and amateur levels; Cheerleaders are part of American football culture from youth leagues to the NFL and are part of the game day experience for our fans."[38]

Pro Bowl

Pro Bowl 2006 cheerleaders
Cheerleaders at the 2006 Pro Bowl

A top honor for an NFL Cheerleader is to be selected as a Pro Bowl Cheerleader. The group is composed of an all-star cheerleader (one from each NFL cheer team) that represents her NFL team at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. The Pro Bowl Cheerleaders were founded in 1992 and directed by Jay Howarth and Angela King-Twitero. Each year, one squad member from every NFL team is chosen to participate in the collective Pro Bowl cheerleading squad.[39] They are picked by either their own squads or by the fans via Internet polling.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Chicago Honey". Chicago Honey Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  4. ^ Cincinnati Ben-Gals
  5. ^ Dallas Cheerleaders History (2007) Retrieved February 8, 2007. Archived February 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Meet one of the first Detroit Lions cheerleaders". Click on Detroit. June 20, 2016. Accessed June 21 2016
  7. ^ "Detroit Lions to add cheerleaders". Official Site of the Detroit Lions. Detroit Lions, Ltd. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  8. ^ Green Bay Packerettes, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Retrieved September 21, 2007
  9. ^ Ex-Packers cheerleader writes winning slogan for fence, September 9, 2007, Retrieved September 21, 2007
  10. ^ Legends on Parade to highlight Packers' Glory Years Archived 2007-11-07 at the Wayback Machine, Green Bay Press-Gazette, August 24, 2007, Retrieved September 21, 2007
  11. ^ Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders History (2007) Retrieved February 8, 2007. Archived February 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Charger Girls History (2007) Retrieved February 8, 2007. Archived February 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders History (2010) Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  14. ^ Oakland Raiderettes History (2007) Retrieved February 8, 2007. Archived September 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Steelerettes History (2007) Retrieved February 8, 2007.
  16. ^ Gold Rush History (2007) Retrieved February 8, 2007.
  17. ^ Sea Gals History (2007) Retrieved February 8, 2007. Archived January 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Retrieved February 15, 2007.
  19. ^ Cheerleader History Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 26, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  21. ^ Plaschke, Bill (2011-01-27). "No Super Bowl cheerleaders? He says rah!". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
  22. ^ "Remember when ... the Cleveland Browns had cheerleaders? Really, they did!". Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Pumerantz, Zack (2011-10-09). "Detroit Lions Cheerleaders: The Hottest Pics of the Detroit Pride". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
  25. ^ a b "Top 6 NFL Teams Without Cheerleaders". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
  26. ^ Benton, Dan (2012-09-24). "Meet the Gotham City Cheerleaders, Unofficial Dancers for All New York Sports". Giants 101. Archived from the original on 2015-09-11. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
  27. ^ Bonchak, Jean (2012-09-27). "Cleveland Spirit cheerleaders coming to Browns Town". The News-Herald. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Pro Bowl Cheerleaders". National Football League. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders

The Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders are the official NFL Cheerleading squad representing the Arizona Cardinals. The group performs at State Farm Stadium, the home stadium of the Cardinals.

The squad was founded in the summer of 1990 under the name Phoenix Cardinals Cheerleaders. This was the first time in the Cardinals history that the cheerleading side of football was incorporated within the Cardinals organization. Before the summer of 1988, the Cardinals Cheerleaders were owned and run by a business outside the franchise.In March 1994, the Cardinals organization announced its name change to the Arizona Cardinals, thus the cheerleaders changed their name to the Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders, which is the name they still use today.

As of 2018, the group has 30 members. The squad also has a "Junior Cheer Program", for young women aged 5–12.

Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders

The Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders are the cheerleading squad of the Atlanta Falcons. The group performs a variety of moves during the Falcons home games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The squad debuted in 1969 as "The Falconettes". The squad currently has 40 cheerleaders. The tryouts for the squad are held annually at the Georgia World Congress Center in April, as well as the Arthur Blank Family Office. Like many other squads, the squad also makes various appearances at events throughout Atlanta. Other than the squad, fans could also hire Falcons mascot Freddie Falcon for appearances. The squad also has a "Junior Cheerleader" Program for the squad's child counterparts. The squad also releases an annual swimsuit calendar.

Buffalo Jills

The Buffalo Jills were the cheerleading squad for the Buffalo Bills professional American football team.

Carolina Topcats

Carolina TopCats Cheerleaders are the official cheerleading squad of the NFL's Carolina Panthers. The TopCats perform a variety of dance moves during home games at Bank of America Stadium, the home stadium of the Panthers.

Cincinnati Ben–Gals

The Cincinnati Ben–Gals are the official cheerleading squad of the National Football League team Cincinnati Bengals. The squad performs a variety of dance moves at Paul Brown Stadium, as well as making off-field appearances at charity events, conventions, grand openings, and trade shows. The squad is one of the first NFL Cheerleading squads, having been created by Bengals founder Paul Brown in the 1968 Cincinnati Bengals season, during the team's time in the American Football League. As of 2015, the squad has 26 members. The squad also has a "Junior Ben-Gals" group, who performs with their adult counterparts at Bengals games. Annually, the squad sends a Ben-Gal to the Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, along with cheerleaders from other squads.In 2009, 40-year-old Laura Vikmanis joined the squad, making her the oldest cheerleader in the NFL.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (sometimes initialized as DCC, and referred to by some fans as "Dallas Cheerleaders" and "Dallas Cowgirls," and nicknamed "America's Sweethearts") are the National Football League cheerleading squad representing the Dallas Cowboys. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are widely regarded as one of the best cheerleading squads in the NFL. They are also the first cheerleading squad in the NFL to start the trend of having young attractive women in revealing outfits dancing in front of fans.

Denver Broncos Cheerleaders

The Denver Broncos Cheerleaders are the official cheerleading squad of the Denver Broncos. In addition to performing on game days, the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders annually commit close to 1,000 hours to various charities and events in Denver and the state of Colorado.

Detroit Lions Cheerleaders

The Detroit Lions Cheerleaders are the National Football League cheerleading squad representing the Detroit Lions.

Jacksonville Roar

The Jacksonville Roar is the professional cheerleading squad of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League. The group was established in 1995, the team's inaugural year, and regularly performs choreographed routines during the team's home contests.

Jets Flight Crew

The Jets Flight Crew is a professional cheerleading squad for the New York Jets of the National Football League. The group was established in 2006 as the Jets Flag Crew, composed of six female flag carriers. In 2007, the group expanded and was appropriately renamed the Jets Flight Crew. The squad regularly performs choreographed routines during the team's home contests.

Denise Garvey serves as director of the squad.

Los Angeles Charger Girls

The Los Angeles Charger Girls are the official cheerleading squad of the National Football League team Los Angeles Chargers. The Charger Girls perform a variety of dance routines during home games. The squad was founded in 1990, and is managed by e2k Event and Entertainment, which also manages the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush dance teams. Members serve as ambassadors for the Chargers. The squad also makes non-game appearances. The group releases an annual swimsuit calendar. The group also has a Junior Charger Girls squad, with each performer being required to raise $175 in sponsor funds, with the funds going straight to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Chargers Community Foundation.

Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders

The Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders are the official cheerleading squad for the Los Angeles Rams professional football team. They were established in 1974 during the team's original tenure in Los Angeles and were known as the Embraceable Ewes. The cheerleading organization became known as the "St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders" when the team moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Beginning with the 2016 NFL season, the organization changed their name to the "Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders" to associate themselves with the recently relocated Los Angeles Rams football team.

Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders

The Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders is the professional cheerleading squad of the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. The squad performs a variety of dance moves at the Hard Rock Stadium, the home stadium of the Dolphins. The Dolphins Cheerleaders released an annual swimsuit calendar every year. The squad hosts auditions every May. Like most other squads in the league, the MDC also has a youth cheer squad. The squad also makes USO trips. Every year, the MDC sends a cheerleader to the Pro Bowl. The MDC also sends a number of alumni to the Indian Premier League every year.

Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders

The Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders are the official cheer squad for the Minnesota Vikings. The squad performs at every home game at the U.S. Bank Stadium, the home stadium of Minnesota. Before the squad's introduction in 1984, The Vi-Queens (1961–63) and the St. Louis Park High School Parkettes performed (196465,67–83) Edina High School and Minneapolis Roosevelt High School in 1966. In 1984, the MVC were started. The group currently has 35 members. The squad, like other groups in the league, releases a swimsuit calendar annually since 2001. The squad also makes off-field appearances at parades, schools, and charity events. Like other NFL cheerleading squads, the MVC also has a "Junior Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders" program, which has various divisions: Junior Angel Division is for girls aged 3–5, and Junior Cheerleader Division is for girls aged 6–14. In April, the MVC hosts tryouts at Winter Park. From 2002-2016, the Vikings were the only team in the NFC North with a cheerleading squad.

New England Patriots Cheerleaders

The New England Patriots Cheerleaders are the official cheerleading squad of the NFL's New England Patriots first formed in 1971. The cheerleaders also make appearances off the field and overseas with Patriots mascot Pat Patriot, and also has a Junior Patriots Cheerleaders, with girls of ages 7–17 being allowed to join, with a fee of $425.00 per participant. The team also releases a swimsuit calendar yearly. The Patriots Cheerleaders' auditions take place at Gillette Stadium. In 2008, the squad went to China to train Chinese dancers for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Oakland Raiderettes

The Oakland Raiderettes are the cheerleading squad for the Oakland Raiders professional American football team. They were established in 1961 as the Oakland Raiderettes. When the Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982, the cheerleading squad became known as the Los Angeles Raiderettes. However, when the franchise moved back to Oakland in 1995, the Raiderettes changed their name back to the Oakland Raiderettes. In both Los Angeles and Oakland, they have been billed as "Football's Fabulous Females."

Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders

The Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders are the cheerleading squad of the Philadelphia Eagles, who plays in the NFL. The squad features 38 women. The squad debuted in 1948 as the Eaglettes, and became the Liberty Belles in the 1970s, and became the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders in the 1980s. In April, the squad holds annual auditions at the Kimmel Center, with the final auditions being aired on The squad, unlike other NFL squads, also releases a swimsuit calendar, but the Eagles Cheerleaders have also released it on Android, as well as iOS for $1.99. The squad's director, Barbara Zaun, was a titleholder for Miss USA and Miss America, and also coordinated the Eagles Cheerleaders for Super Bowl XXXIX, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, as well as various photo shoots. The squad also makes off-field appearances. The squad has also made an appearance at the 2012 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

Sea Gals

The Sea Gals are the official cheerleading squad of the NFL team Seattle Seahawks. Noted as one of the most intensely trained groups of NFL cheerleaders, the Sea Gals perform a variety of dance routines during home games. Throughout the year a select performance team called the Sea Gals Show Group travels in parades, performs overseas and at home with the USO, and participates in events with other NFL Cheerleaders around the world.

Washington Redskins Cheerleaders

The Washington Redskins Cheerleaders were second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers in professional NFL cheerleaders (1961; the Rooneys eliminated them shortly afterwards), but continue to be the longest running professional National Football League cheerleading organization.Originally called the Redskinettes, they have cheered for the Washington Redskins since September 1962. The first director of Redskinettes was Grace Hutton. Initially, they performed in Native American-themed (though not authentic) costumes, but subsequently changed to outfits similar to other NFL cheerleading organizations by 1970.In addition to touring with the football team, they have performed around the world. In 1982, they were invited to be the first NFL cheerleaders to perform in Asia promoting U.S. commercial products throughout Taiwan. The following year, the cheerleaders produced their first calendar, which they have continued since. In 1984, they were the fourth NFL squad to perform in a United Service Organizations (USO) tour entertaining the armed forces in Turkey, Italy, Sicily, Spain and the 6th Fleet off the coast of France. Since then, they have participated in numerous Department of Defense (DOD) tours to entertain members of the U.S. military.

The Washington Redskins Cheerleaders were also the first cheerleaders in the NFL to form an alumni association. The Washington Redskins Cheerleader Alumni Association (WRCAA) was founded in 1984 by former cheerleader Terri Crane-Lamb.

National Football League Cheerleaders
American Football Conference
National Football Conference

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