BY STEPHEN WHYNO, AP Sports journalist
Washington will be out of cheerleaders for the first time since the NFL’s longest-running cheerleading team was formed in 1962. A coed dance team takes its place.
The move is part of the organization’s rebranding efforts and is unrelated to a confidential settlement with members of the 2008 and 2010 cheerleading teams. The team’s lawyers and that cheerleader told The Associated Press last month that “the matter was resolved “but did not say when the agreement was reached.
Former Laker Girl manager Petra Pope was hired as a consultant on Wednesday to leverage her over three decades of NBA experience to rework the group.
“I was asked to create a more modern entertainment team that is inclusive and diverse,” Pope said in a telephone interview. “We just want to follow this way of being modern and modern. Change is difficult, but I have a feeling that the fans will love what we bring to the table. “
The First Ladies of Football program was suspended after last season, regardless of allegations that team staff made inappropriate videos of calendar photo shoots of previous members in previous years. Washington named Joey Colby-Begovich as vice president of gaming experience on Monday, and Pope will be responsible for forming and naming the new dance team.
The contracts of former members of the cheerleading team expired, Pope confirmed, although she said they could try it out for the group in 2021 “as long as they have these athletic skills. I have no idea who the former dancers were, so I don’t know them, so everyone is welcome to audition. “
Pope said she was convinced that owner Dan Snyder and Ms. Tanya are “determined to take this team to a more modern level”. Snyder pledged last summer to change the team’s culture in light of allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace by former employees, which led to an independent investigation that the NFL took over.
In his comments at the Super Bowl, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, “The Washington football club has already made many changes.” This included hiring Jason Wright as team president.
This is another change that Pope said is expected for next season. Wright said he anticipates Washington Football Team will continue with a new, permanent name in 2021, which will be ready in 2022.
Pope, who worked for the NBA’s New York Knicks for 14 years in addition to her Los Angeles Lakers experience, said she was the “new kid on the block” in the bigger picture of the name change and will focus on the dancer element of the rebrand.
“My focus is really just on reinventing this team,” she said. “My goal is to create this team, reinvent this team and make it more modern.”
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