When the New York Times asked the Washington Redskins for a statement on a controversial story regarding a controversial cheerleader calendar photo shoot to Costa Rica in 2013, the Redskins gave the paper a statement that was basically word salad and said nothing.
After a day of heavy criticism to the team over the story by The Times’ Juliet Macur, the Redskins tried again.
The team put out a statement from team president Bruce Allen on Thursday saying it takes the story’s allegations seriously, but in standard Redskins form also made sure to say that what they’ve heard contradicts the story. In The Times’ story, cheerleaders on that trip alleged they had their passports taken from them upon arrival, were required to be topless at a photo shoot that sponsors attended and that some of them were told to escort sponsors to a nightclub.
The Redskins organization is very concerned by the allegations involving our cheerleaders in the recent New York Times article. We are immediately looking into this situation and want to express how serious we take these allegations. Based on the dialogue we’ve had with a number of current and former cheerleaders over the past 48 hours, we’ve heard very different first-hand accounts that directly contradict many of the details of the May 2 article. I can promise that once we have completed looking into this matter, if it is revealed that any of our employees acted inappropriately, those employees will face significant repercussions.
“Our entire organization has great appreciation and respect for our cheerleaders. From the work they do in the local community, to visiting our troops abroad, and for always representing the Redskins organization in a first-class manner, these women are exemplary members of our organization and are worthy of our utmost respect. We are proud of these women and support them during this time. We will continue to take all necessary measures to create a safe and respectful work environment.”
There have been a few stories about cheerleaders being treated poorly this offseason, and at some point the NFL is going to have to do more than hope it all blows over. There have been tales of cheerleaders being treated in a way that most NFL employees aren’t, including substandard pay and having to agree to rules that are clearly a double standard compared to players and others in the organization. Considering cheerleaders are among the most prominent female employees of most NFL teams, it’s a terrible look for a league that has been plagued with issues like domestic violence.
The Redskins said they’ll be looking into it, but based on their initial reactions of downplaying the story (and the organization’s past missteps in so many areas), we shouldn’t expect too much of a substantial report at the end.
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