Former NFL cheerleaders are outraged over the “sexist” culture in the league, following the revelation that images of some of the women, topless from a past photoshoot, were allegedly passed around via email.
Former cheerleaders are calling for a full report into workplace culture to be made public, following The New York Times report Monday outlining that topless images were allegedly sent by now-ousted Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden to then-Washington Football Team General Manager Bruce Allen. At the time of the alleged emails, Gruden was a color commentator for ESPN.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, former cheerleaders from the Washington Football Team and the Raiders said “they were horrified by the revelations, but not surprised.”
The images reportedly came from salacious videos made of the cheerleaders showing their nipples and private parts, first reported by The Washington Post, last year.
In August 2020, the Post reported that the team “produced lewd videos out of outtakes from the cheerleaders’ 2008 and 2010 swimsuit calendar shoots that include partial nudity.” Staffers were reportedly instructed to capture only “the good bits.”
Dozens of cheerleaders sued over the videos and the lawsuits were eventually settled out of court.
“The NFL must do the right thing and make the sexual misconduct investigation of the WFT public AND hold Dan Snyder accountable for the history of serial sexual harassment within his organization,” reads a petition created by Melanie Coburn, a former Washington Football Team cheerleader who served as the team’s marketing director.
“These women aren’t just on the literal sidelines,” continues the petition, which has racked up more than 40,000 signatures as of Thursday. “They support local charities and visit veterans and sick children in local hospitals. They create incredible value through youth outreach programs and put their lives at risk on overseas military tours to engage with and honor our servicemen and women.”
“This cannot and must not stand. #NFLforwomensrights #WFTdotherightthing #evolvedontcancel.”
“It’s despicable, really, to see that there is more evidence of exploitation and violation of these cheerleaders who I worked very closely with,” Coburn said, speaking to The Daily Beast.
“I know that there’s a lot more where these emails came from,” she added.
A former Washington Football Team cheerleader, Candess Correll dubbed the cheerleaders the “actual victims” in the scandal.
“If it wasn’t for [the New York Times article,] we would’ve never known that those pictures were going through the mail servers between these two really important people in the NFL,” she said.
Former Raiders cheerleader Lacy Thibodeaux-Fields called said the Gruden scandal “was further evidence of a ‘misogynistic, racist, very sexist culture,’” according to the New York Post.
This article has been revised for clarity.
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