Washington Football Team to Use Coed Dance Team Instead of Cheerleaders Next Season

Washington's new dance squad will feature both male and female performers

Washington Football Team logo on seats in stadium
Washington Football Team logo adorns seats during a 2020 game.
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty

A team that has had its fair share of issues with cheerleaders has decided to get rid of them entirely as part of an ongoing rebranding effort.

Weeks after reaching a confidential settlement with former cheerleaders who appeared in lewd videos without their consent, the Washington Football Team is eliminating its cheerleader program and replacing it with a coed dance squad.

“The Washington Football Team will create the team’s first co-ed dance team as part of its new game day entertainment program, hiring Petra Pope as senior advisor to run it. Formerly, Pope was manager of the Laker Girls and then Knicks City Dancers,” according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Pope, who indicated the club will likely hire 36 dancers or more, told ESPN the goal is to create a “more modern franchise.”

“With that comes inclusivity, diversity and in my mind, as an entertainer, athleticism,” Pope said. “My desire is to create a team that is all of that — inclusive, diverse, co-ed, athletic — to set the gold standard in the NFL. We’re looking for that super athlete that can dance, perform tricks and stunts and manipulate whatever props that will create a really great show … As we progress to a re-imagined era, the choreography will be much more athletic.”

Former cheerleaders will be welcome to audition for the new team and will be hired if they have a skill set that matches up with what Pope and the franchise is looking for.

Washington started using cheerleaders in 1962 and their squad eventually became known as the First Ladies of Football. But that was long before current owner Daniel Snyder took over the team and allowed a number of scandals to take place on his watch.

“As we set out to modernize the Washington Football gameday, it’s important that we develop a top-notch entertainment program that keeps our fanbase excited and connected to the game and the team,” said team president Jason Wright.

Unlike the cheerleading teams of the past, there are no plans for the dance team to do any calendars, Pope told USA Today.

“At this point, as we re-imagine what this looks like, that’s not in the plans,” she said. “We’re going to move forward to a more modern entity, and that more than likely will not be a part of it. Right now we’re thinking modern, modern franchise. A calendar is not a part of that process.”

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