Here's your daily link to Dave McKenna's brilliant "Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder," which we'll be posting until Snyder's dumbass libel suit finds its way into the wood chipper.
Today we bring you an in-depth look at what it's like to be a Redskins cheer-leading hopeful. The DC cheerleaders are now called the "First Ladies of Football," although I always knew them as the "Redskinettes." I guess that sobriquet was too sexist? Not as sexist, it seems, as the treatment the First Ladies get from the Washington Redskins. In her story for TBD, Amanda Hess gets into how little the cheerleaders are paid and how much they can shell out to land a job with the Redskins:
If an aspiring cheerleader opts for each of these suggested modifications, she'll be out a few thousand dollars before she even auditions for the squad. But so what? A salaryman looking for a job in corporate administration invests big dollars in suits, cufflinks, and ties. An aspiring professional athlete sinks bank into trainers and diet. But it's only an investment if you stand to make a return.
Cheerleaders who make the cut are paid $75 per home game performance. With eight games and a couple of preseason bouts at FedExField on the schedule, full compensation for a season of on-field entertainment can amount to less than $1,000. Redskins cheerleaders also receive a pair of season tickets. Of course, they'll have to find someone else to fill the seats-they'll be working.
The cheerleaders must primp and prep in costly fashion. If they are among the tiny percentage to make the cut, they go on to make decent money — but for the team, not themselves. More:
Each spring, cheerleaders set aside eight full days for the organization, too. That's when they travel to an "exotic location," where they'll produce enough primo shots for 16 months of calendar. At last year's Punta Cana shoot, the Redskinettes tinkered with provocative poses for days. Several cheerleaders appeared with only footballs, hands, or pink roses covering their breasts. Others just wore paint. In shoot videos published on the team website - which sidle up to ads from Verizon and Audi - the women romp in the surf and dish about what they look for in guys. The Redskins sell the resulting spread for $14.99 a pop.
The Redskins say the shoot "includes airfare, hotel and all meals," but Jojokian warns Project Cheerleaders that squad members are required to secure their own passports and set away their own vacation time for the mandatory trip. The Redskins won't comment on whether these women are actually compensated for eight straight days of highly revealing modeling work. "I'm sorry," Redskins Senior Vice President Tony Wyllie told me via email when I asked for comment on the cheerleaders' pay: "we can not help here." ...
The Redskins won't confirm what wages the cheerleaders bring home, but the women drum up plenty for the team. Each year, the Redskins make each cheerleader available for more than 20 official appearances, where they dance, sign autographs, and pose for photos at private parties and corporate events. Unlike Redskins players, the team's cheerleaders can't set their own appearance fees, and the team won't disclose its price tag of a Redskinette at your doorstep. But across the league, NFL teams charge outside organizations an hourly rate that far outstrips the women's game-day pay. The Baltimore Ravens, for example, charge appearance fees of $150 to $250 per cheerleader per hour. The Tennessee Titans charge up to $300 an hour. And the Oakland Raiders rent their cheerleaders at a $400 hourly rate. It's not clear what portion of those appearance fees actually trickles down to the talent.
When NFL cheerleaders aren't turning a profit for the teams, they're pulling heartstrings on feel-good PR missions. The women of the Redskins volunteer their services by visiting veterans' hospitals, hopping on antique fire trucks, and patronizing "green" hair salons, all to burnish the team's public image. ...
One group that isn't complaining about cheerleader pay: Cheerleaders. "You're talking to women who have made their deal with the devil because they want to be NFL cheerleaders," [Gregg] Easterbrook says. "If they argued that they needed better pay for it, they would be dismissed. There's no job protection, no security, no union, no agent, no nothing. They're treated as chattel by the teams."
The team also controls who cheerleaders date, who they speak to, and what they wear. In 2007, Christy Ogilvee and another cheerleader were kicked off the squad for having a relationship with tight end Chris Cooley in violation of the team's strict non-fraternization policy. Cooley remains on the Redskins payroll.
In 2009, Marine Lt. Denver Edick contacted local ABC station WJLA to help him surprise his wife Kristin, a Redskins cheerleader, with an on-air homecoming. But when the team punted the story to broadcast partner NBC, the Redskins reportedly informed Edick that if his wife granted an interview to WJLA, she'd be canned. "To threaten to fire his wife-that is objectionable on so many levels that I couldn't even count them," WJLA station manager Bill Lord told the Post at the time. The Redskins denied making the threat. (WJLA.com is the sister site of TBD.com.)
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