A new scandal has erupted over alleged topless cheerleader photos from the Washington Football Team. The NFL fined the football team $US10 million in July for the scandal, and the NFL Players Association wants the league to make its investigation findings public. The NFL is also facing litigation from attorneys representing forty former cheerleaders. The Washington Post first reported the scandal in 2020. This story has sparked controversy for several reasons, but one common theme is the alleged lack of transparency.
While the images from the cheerleader photoshoot have not yet been made public, a number of former cheerleaders have spoken out against the NFL and alleged inappropriate behavior from the team executives. Some have even filed lawsuits against the NFL and WFT, which settled out of court. A separate investigation into the NFL’s workplace culture ended this summer with the team paying a US$10 million fine. However, the images from the cheerleader photoshoot have been included in the accusations against Gruden.
The 2010 cheerleader video, featuring partially-naked cheerleaders, was produced after a calendar photo shoot in the Dominican Republic. Both videos feature the same soundtrack, including songs by the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, and U2. In outtakes, cheerleaders repeatedly look at the camera. Former employees describe seeing the producer splice the two videos together. But Scourby’s complaint resurfaced in the aftermath of the scandal.
NBC News later aired an interview with Washington Redskins cheerleaders, and published a video showing the team’s “sexy” calendar. The cheerleaders were also asked to pose topless for a photo shoot in an adults-only resort, where they were forced to wear nipple-baring bikini bottoms. The video went viral, and the cheerleaders were even asked to attend a charity event with male sponsors.
While the NFL’s cheerleaders are not allowed to wear nipples in public, there are several examples of inappropriate conduct involving the women. For example, in 2008, an NFL official made lewd comments about a cheerleader’s body in front of male sponsors. In other cases, cheerleaders were forced to pose naked in photos with male NFL sponsors. This is a particularly egregious case because the NFL has no uniform policy.
The Washington Nationals cheerleaders’ governing body also reportedly imposed stricter rules on women. In April, former cheerleader Michelle Moseley was part of a team trip to Tampa for the Super Bowl. In 2009, the team’s president of business operations, Dennis Greene, told two younger cheerleaders to wear bathing suits and take drink orders. The young women then went out on a luxury yacht with a male suite holder.