October 28, 2021

After Jon Gruden Resigns, Cheerleaders Demand NFL Launch Report on Washington Soccer Crew’s ‘Boys Membership’

5 min read


National Football League cheerleaders are calling on the NFL to launch its full report into office tradition after allegations surfaced that coaches had secretly distributed nude photographs of them by electronic mail.

The emails, first reported by the New York Times Monday, had been allegedly despatched by then-ESPN commentator Jon Gruden to then Washington Soccer Crew Normal Supervisor Bruce Allen (who had employed Gruden’s brother, Jay, to educate the group, then referred to as the Redskins) and a number of other different males.

Former cheerleaders for each groups informed The Day by day Beast Tuesday they had been horrified by the revelations, but not surprised.

Each groups have been hit by lawsuits from their cheerleaders lately; the Washington Soccer group for allegedly distributing a secret, uncensored video of a cheerleader photoshoot to executives; the Raiders for allegedly failing to pay its cheerleaders minimal wage. Each groups settled out of courtroom.

The emails involving Gruden—who resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after the newspaper printed his electronic mail threads stuffed with racist, misogynistic and homophobic commentary—had been a number of the 650,000 that investigators reviewed throughout a continutation of an investigation into the office tradition on the Washington Soccer group ordered by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (himself a subject of a few of Gruden’s crude insults) final 12 months. The investigation concluded in July with a $10 million superb in opposition to the group—one of many harshest ever levied by the NFL—and was reopened this summer time with a purpose to evaluation the emails, which a spokesperson for the league stated in an announcement had been “appalling, abhorrent and wholly opposite to the NFL’s values.”

The report has by no means been launched to the general public, or to the ladies who complained. As a substitute, the cheerleaders had been left to search out out in regards to the topless picture incident within the press, almost 4 months later.

“It’s despicable, actually, to see that there’s extra proof of exploitation and violation of those cheerleaders who I labored very carefully with,” stated Melanie Coburn, a cheerleader for the Washington Soccer Crew cheerleader for 4 years and the squad’s advertising and marketing director for 10.

Lots of the ladies who sued over the behind-the-scenes movies had signed NDAs as a part of their settlement, Coburn added.

I do know that there’s much more the place these emails got here from.

“They’re now popping out questioning, ‘What the hell, it is extra than simply these two movies,’” she stated. “I can solely think about how they really feel, and so they haven’t any voice.”

Coburn started a petition in February—months earlier than the investigation concluded—calling on the NFL to launch the report publicly and reinstate the cheerleading squad, which was modified to a co-ed dance squad following the settlement. She reiterated her name Tuesday, telling The Day by day Beast: “I do know that there’s much more the place these emails got here from.” Greater than 39,000 folks had signed the petition as of Tuesday night time.

Lacy Thibodeaux-Fields, a former cheerleader for the Raiders, echoed Coburn’s message. The 35-year-old sued the Raiders for wage theft in 2014, setting off a rash of comparable lawsuits by cheerleaders throughout the nation. The group finally settled with Thibodeaux-Fields and the 100 ladies who joined her swimsuit in 2017, however the former Raiderette stated she by no means acquired an apology.

She informed The Day by day Beast that the newest electronic mail scandal was additional proof of the “misogynistic, racist, very sexist tradition” on the NFL, and referred to as on them to launch the complete report.

“Everybody that pays and helps the NFL deserves to know what sort of persons are operating the present and what they’re supporting,” she stated.

The Washington Soccer group particularly has been hit with a slew of allegations by present and former cheerleaders lately. In 2018, former government Dennis Greene resigned after it was reported that he had bought entry to a topless cheerleader photoshoot to rich patrons as a part of a swimsuit package deal. 5 cheerleaders informed The New York Occasions that they had been additionally required to attend nightclubs with the boys and act as their dates.

Within the behind-the-scenes video incident, first reported by the Washington Post last year, Washington Soccer Crew workers members had been reportedly requested to take footage from the swimsuit shoot and edit it right into a video that includes solely “the great bits”—photographs of naked nipples and pubic areas uncovered whereas the cheerleaders had been altering garments or switching positions. The ensuing 10-minute video was then delivered to group proprietor Daniel Snyder, in response to the Put up. (Snyder denied the allegations.)

Candass Correll, who cheered for the group from 2016 till this 12 months, stated she was annoyed that incidents like this appeared to take a backseat to allegations of racism or homophobia throughout the league. “This report has been happening for effectively over a 12 months and we because the precise victims nonetheless haven’t seen it,” stated Correll, who’s Black. “If it wasn’t for [the New York Times article,] we might’ve by no means identified that these footage had been going by way of the mail servers between these two actually essential folks within the NFL.”

Ladies’s points within the NFL, she added, are “not prioritized or fairly truthfully seen as points, as a result of they get swept below the rug, like, ‘Oh, that’s what they do, that’s what occurs.’”

The 2020 investigation was seen by some as a method to tackle these points, which have haunted the league for years. Legal professional Beth Wilkinson interviewed almost 150 present and former staff of the Washington Soccer Membership over the course of the 12 months. On the conclusion of the evaluation, the NFL stated investigators had discovered that bullying and intimidation “ceaselessly came about” on the membership, and that “quite a few feminine staff reported having skilled sexual harassment and a normal lack of respect within the office.” The membership dedicated to 10 of Wilkinson’s suggestions, together with common tradition survey and trainings, a extra numerous workforce, and an HR worker assigned particularly to the cheer squad.

Nonetheless, Snyder was allowed to take care of his possession and no written report was ever launched. Each Fatima Goss Graves, the CEO of the Nationwide Ladies’s Regulation Middle, and Kim Gandy, the previous CEO of the Nationwide Community to Finish Home Violence, told The New York Times on the conclusion of the investigation that the sanctions weren’t sufficient, and that the report wanted to be launched in full.

Courtney DeYoung, a 12-year-veteran of the cheerleading group, echoed these feedback Tuesday.

Requested what she wished to see from the NFL, she stated: “I’d simply say launch the freaking report.”

“Let’s have some transparency after which let’s determine what to do shifting ahead,” she added. “Let’s cease defending the boys membership and simply launch it.”

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