The NFL is investigating the use of unauthorized videos of cheerleaders to influence the team’s culture. In 2012, a group of cheerleaders filed lawsuits against WFT and the NFL, claiming the company had shared secret videos with team executives. The lawsuits were settled out of court, and the NFL investigated the scandal in July, settling with WFT for $10 million. During the summer, the NFL reopened its investigation, which included examining 650,000 emails from its employees. Some images from those emails were later included in Gruden’s accusations. Attorneys for 40 former employees called for full release of the investigation findings.
The emails, allegedly passed around from Raiders head coach Jon Gruden to cheerleaders, reveal an investigation into the cheerleaders’ workplace culture. The emails included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms and inappropriate language. The NFL has not yet released any information regarding the emails, but former cheerleaders have called for the release of all relevant results. This is a troubling case for the NFL and its cheerleading programs.
WFT cheerleaders are “actual victims” of the scandal and need full disclosure. The NFL has already fined Washington ten million dollars, but the WFT has not released its full report. In addition to the players, 40 former WFT employees have filed lawsuits to stop the WFT from using improper photographs of cheerleaders. According to Melanie Coburn, who was the marketing director for 10 years, the latest development in the photo scandal is a disgrace.
In fact, the cheerleaders acted like prostitutes at the FedExField after the game. The female cheerleaders were forced to work 14 hours a day, and were assigned a special assignment to a nightclub. Male sponsors chose nine cheerleaders to serve as personal escorts. One cheerleader even started crying when the director ordered her to get ready for her nightclub assignment.
While cheerleaders are important, they cannot be taken for granted. In fact, the Washington Redskins sent their cheerleaders to Costa Rica to participate in a calendar shoot. They were required to pose in underwear and body paint, and had no idea there were spectators in the photo shoot. These spectators included high-profile Redskins sponsors and FedEx Field suite holders. This made the Washington Redskins cheerleaders vulnerable to men.
A video of a partially-naked cheerleader was shot on June 22, 2010, shortly after the team’s calendar shoot in the Dominican Republic. The videos have the same soundtrack, including Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” and U2’s “Mysterious Ways.” The cheerleaders look directly into the camera during the outtakes, which one former employee said was for Snyder’s benefit.
The Washington Redskins cheerleaders have spoken out against the scandal. They spoke to the New York Times about the incident and revealed that Bruce Allen forced the women to pose for nude photos in order to promote his own NFL team. Moreover, he used an email account with the team to send the pictures. Despite the outrage, the NFL has not responded to the incident yet. This is a serious issue, and the NFL needs to take action quickly.
Scourby’s allegations are an example of an inappropriate use of unofficial cheerleader videos. During a 2008 production meeting, Scourby’s request for an unofficial video of cheerleaders came up. The cheerleaders had just returned from shooting an Aruba calendar. It’s unclear if Scourby’s request came from a sexist motive, but the video does not seem to contradict the actress’s statement.
As a former Washington “Redskinette,” Coburn took a job in the cheerleading department. In 2008, she was named the director of the cheerleading program and is now responsible for marketing efforts. But after leaving Landover, she realized the true extent of the problems. The program also focuses on community events and youth camps, but did not mention entertaining wealthy men who financially support the team. When asked about the controversy, she was upset.