NFL cheerleading is part of the game. Today, any broadcast of an NFL game isn't complete without at least one shot of the home team's cheerleaders on the sidelines. The intricate dance moves and showy costumes are as much a part of the game as the touchdowns on the field.
This wasn't always the case, however. NFL cheerleading started with humble origins and modest goals. It took vision and dedication to help evolve NFL cheerleading into the glamorous profession it has become.
The Early Years Of NFL Cheerleading
In 1954, the (then) Baltimore Colts formed the first NFL cheerleading squad. Although other teams had used local high school and college cheering squads at their games, most notably the Green Bay Packers as early as 1931, Baltimore's squad is recognized as the first official group of NFL cheerleaders, complete with NFL cheerleading uniforms.
Taken from the ranks of college cheerleaders, the Baltimore group featured traditional cheers and gymnastic moves. Most other teams followed suit and by the 1960s, cheerleading squads were a standard fixture at NFL games.
Dallas Creates a Sensation
In 1972, Dallas Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm was looking for a way to add sideline interest to the team's games. In coordination with the existing cheerleading manager Dee Brock, Schramm brought jazz dancing and revealing outfits to the sidelines.
Although the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders were an instant local hit, they didn't gain national fame until Super Bowl X. It was during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that the cheerleaders were featured on the sidelines. In short order, the Dallas cheerleaders were appearing on posters, in commercials and network television shows. Suddenly, having a topflight cheerleading squad became a priority for most NFL teams.
Cheerleaders As Ambassadors
Today, NFL cheerleading squads make local personal appearances at charity and public service events. Some squads have even traveled to Iraq to entertain US troops.
Almost every team's cheerleaders produce a photo calendar for sale. The proceeds from calendar sales often go to local charities.