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National Football League Cheerleading, or simply NFL Cheerleading, is a professional cheerleading organization in the United States. 26 of the 32 NFL teams include a cheerleading squad in their franchise. Cheerleaders are a popular attraction that can give a team more coverage/airtime, popular local support and increased media image. In 1954 the Baltimore Colts became the first NFL team to have cheerleaders. They were part of the Baltimore Colts Marching Band.
Most NFL cheerleading squads are a part-time job. Often, cheerleaders have completed or are attending a university, and continue on to other careers after cheering for one to four seasons. The members participate in practice, training camp, games, appearances, photo shoots, and charity events. Apart from their main duties of cheering during the football games, the cheerleaders have many other responsibilities. Nearly every team member is available for appearances at schools, events, conferences, etc., for a set fee.
An anticipated annual event is the release of each squad's calendar, featuring members for each month in swimsuits, lingerie, or uniforms.
As well as being a mainstay of American football culture, the cheerleaders are one of the biggest entertainment groups to regularly perform for the United States Armed Forces overseas with performances and tours being enlisted by the USO. Teams send their variety show, an elite group of their best members, to perform combination shows of dance, music, baton twirling, acrobatics, gymnastics, and more. In February 2007, the Buffalo Bills even sent a squad of eight along with their choreographer into the war zone of Iraq. In 1996, the San Francisco 49ers Cheerleaders and their director Angela King-Twitero helicoptered into the war inflicted country of Bosnia with the USO and the U.S. Army. The U.S. troops in Korea have been entertained during the holiday season with the USO's Bob Hope Tour. Over the years, the tour has featured NFL cheerleaders from the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.
The first "Battle of the NFL Cheerleaders" was held in 1979 in Hollywood, Florida. Two cheerleaders from each cheerleading team compete against other mini-teams in various athletic events. This includes kayaking, 100 yard dash, obstacle courses, and other events. The Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders took home the title in 1979. In 1980 it was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey and the Washington Redskinettes were the champions. The winners were Shiona Baum and Jeannie Fritz and each received a car as the grand prize. The competition was resurrected in 2006 by the NFL Network, and was called NFL Cheerleader Playoffs. The playoffs were taped between July 17 and July 21, 2006 at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts. Two-person teams of cheerleaders from 25 of the NFL's 32 teams participated in a four-event series of competitions. The first two events tested the cheerleaders' athletic abilities in events like the 100-yard dash, kayaking, tandem cycling, and the obstacle course. The third event was a trivia challenge called "Know Your NFL". The final competition was a one-minute dance routine, similar to what they normally perform on NFL sidelines. San Diego Chargers team (Casie and Shantel) defeated the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Rams squads to win the overall championship. The 3 teams finished in a three-way tie, with 210 points. The Chargers were declared the winners based on winning the dance competition.
Listed by name, with corresponding NFL football team.
|Current or Last Name||Year Established and Former Names||NFL Team|
|Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders||1964–1987 St. Louis Cardinals Cheerleaders|
1988–1993 Phoenix Cardinals Cheerleaders
1994–present Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders
|Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders||1960s The Falconettes|
|Baltimore Ravens Cheerleaders*||1998–present||Baltimore Ravens|
|Carolina Topcats||1995–present||Carolina Panthers|
|Chicago Honey Bears||1976–1985|
|Cincinnati Ben–Gals||1976–present||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders||1960s–1971 CowBelles & Beaux,|
|Denver Broncos Cheerleaders||1971-1976 Bronco Belles|
1977-1980 Pony Express
|Green Bay Packers cheerleaders||late 1950s–1961 Packerettes|
1961–1972 Golden Girls
1973–1977 Packerettes 
1977–1986 Sideliners 
2007–present college cheerleaders
|Green Bay Packers|
|Houston Texans Cheerleaders||2002–present||Houston Texans|
|Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders||1954–1983 Baltimore Colts Cheerleaders|
|Jacksonville ROAR||1995–present||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders||1960s Chiefs Cheerleaders|
1980s–present Chiefs Cheerleaders
|Kansas City Chiefs|
|Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders||1966–1977 Dolphin Dolls|
1978–early 1980s Dolphin Starbrites
early 1980s Dolfin Star Brites
1983–present Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders
|Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders||1961–1963 Vi-Queens|
1964–1983 The Parkettes (St. Louis Park High School)
1984–present Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders
|New England Patriots Cheerleaders||1977–present||New England Patriots|
|New Orleans Saintsations||Angels|
|New Orleans Saints|
|New York Giants|
|New York Jets Flight Crew||2006 Jets Flag Crew|
2007–present Jets Flight Crew
|New York Jets|
|Oakland Raiderettes||1961–present||Oakland Raiders|
|Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders||1948–1960s Eaglettes|
1970s Liberty Belles
1980s–present The Eagles Cheerleaders
|1960–1969 Pittsburgh Steelerettes amateurs|
|St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders||1974–1994 Embraceable Ewes|
1995–present St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders
|St. Louis Rams|
|San Diego Charger Girls||1960s-70s Chargettes |
1990–present Charger Girls
|San Diego Chargers|
|San Francisco Gold Rush||1950's the all-girl Niner Nuggets cheerleaders and singers at Kezar Stadium. 1979 (as a coed squad before becoming an all-girl squad in 1983)||San Francisco 49ers|
|Seattle Sea Gals||1976–present||Seattle Seahawks|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders||1976–1998 SwashBucklers|
1999–present Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders||1975–1997 The Derrick Dolls|
|Washington Redskins Cheerleaders||1962 Redskinettes|
currently: Washington Redskins Cheerleaders
* Ravens Cheerleading Squad is technically a Co-ed Stunt and All-Female Dance squad.
As of 2014, seven teams do not have cheerleading squads: Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The February 2011 meeting of the Packers and Steelers at Super Bowl XLV was the first time a Super Bowl featured no cheerleaders. The Packers do however use a collegiate squad from time to time in a limited role to cheer at home games.
Teams of "unofficial" cheerleaders began emerging in 2010 for NFL teams that don't have their own dance squad. These unofficial cheerleaders aren't sanctioned by the NFL or any franchise in the NFL and therefore are not allowed to perform at games, represent the football team at any outside functions, or use any of the team's branding or trademarked colors on their uniforms. The teams are sponsored by local businesses, and the cheerleaders perform prior to the game, at tailgate parties, and other local events. Some also attend the local NFL games in uniform, and sit together in their block of season ticket seats. Their audition process, costuming, and choreography are very similar to official NFL cheer teams. Some also produce an annual swimsuit calendar, just like the legitimate cheerleaders. All of the independent teams hope at some point to be embraced by the NFL as "official" cheerleaders of their local teams.
A top honor for an NFL Cheerleader is to be selected as Pro Bowl Cheerleader. The group is composed of an all-star cheerleader (one from each NFL cheer team) that represents her NFL team at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. The Pro Bowl Cheerleaders were founded in 1992 and directed by Jay Howarth and Angela King-Twitero. Each year, one squad member from every NFL team is chosen to participate in the collective Pro Bowl cheerleading squad.