A group of cheerleaders for the Washington Redskins say they were forced to walk around topless and covered only in body paint during a calendar photo shoot in 2013 while wealthy male sponsors watched. After the photo shoot was over, nine of the cheerleaders were picked to be escorts for the sponsors at a nightclub party.
The cheerleaders, who spoke with the New York Times on condition of anonymity, said that they felt like they were being "pimped out" by the team. One cheerleader said that they "weren’t asked" to escort the men, "but it was mandatory for us to go."
Team executives, including Senior Vice President of Operations Lon Rosenberg, and Ppresident of Business Operations Dennis Greene, attended the trip as well, giving the impression that the team was "condoning" the actions on the trip. The women said they were encouraged to drink and flirt with the men, but pointed out they were never forced to sleep with them.
One of the cheerleaders said that what happened on the trip was "just not right" and that nothing will "change until something terrible happens."
It’s just not right to send cheerleaders out with strange men when some of the girls clearly don’t want to go. But unfortunately, I feel like it won’t change until something terrible happens, like a girl is assaulted in some way, or raped. I think teams will start paying attention to this only when it’s too late.
The Redskins issued a brief statement to the New York Times said that the team's cheerleaders are "contractually protected to ensure a safe and constructive environment."
“The Redskins’ cheerleader program is one of the NFL’s premier teams in participation, professionalism, and community service. Each Redskin cheerleader is contractually protected to ensure a safe and constructive environment. The work our cheerleaders do in our community, visiting our troops abroad, and supporting our team on the field is something the Redskins organization and our fans take great pride in.”
The allegations from the Redskins cheerleaders comes as a former New Orleans Saints cheerleader is suing the team alleging she was fired after posting a lingerie photo of herself on Instagram.