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Washington Football Team will discontinue cheerleading team, replace with co-ed dance squad
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Washington Football Team will discontinue cheerleading team, replace with co-ed dance squad

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Washington Redskins cheerleaders

The "First Ladies of Football" have performed at Washington football games since 1962.

First the "Redskinettes" and later "The First Ladies of Football," for the first time since 1962 the Washington Football Team won't have cheerleaders this season.

Instead, the team will replace the group with a co-ed dance squad, under the direction of longtime NBA dance team leader Petra Pope.

The decision was first reported Wednesday morning by USA Today.

Washington's cheerleading program was part of a Washington Post investigation that alleged sexual misconduct among team officials.

The paper reported that team video employees created unauthorized videos from cheerleader calendar photo shoots that showed the women while they were not fully dressed.

During the 2020 season, when fans were mostly not allowed at FedEx Field, the cheer team continued to perform, but did so via recorded videos that were played inside the stadium and on the team's social media outlets.

After the news broke that the team would be disbanded, the team wrote an open letter asking for reinstatement and the re-hiring of team director Jamilla Keene, who was not retained.

It read, in part: "While we appreciated the organization's efforts to reimagine the gameday experience 'in a way that both honors and modernizes our traditions,' we are disappointed by how this phase of the rebranding journey was handled - and at our expense.

"Despite reports of sexual misconduct endured by female employees, we've remained committed to supporting those mistreated in our community, evolving our program, and changing the narrative of women in sports."

In the USA Today article, Pope said all previous cheerleaders would be able to apply to the new dance squad.

The Dallas Cowboys have both a cheerleading program and a co-ed dance squad, known as the "Rhythm and Blue."

​mphillips@timesdispatch.com    (804) 649-6546     

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