The Washington Football Team paused its cheerleading program on Monday and plans to rebrand it, according to WUSA9’s Darren Haynes — a move that comes as the NFL is nearing completion of an investigation into the organization.
Officials in the program, per the report, are going to completely rebuild it and are working with an outside creative agency — the same one that helped with the team name change and rebrand last year — to do so. Cheerleading director Jamilla Keene has been removed from her position. The team is working to hire a vice president of fan experience, a new position within the organizaiton, which will oversee the new cheerleading program, among other things.
“The offseason gives us the opportunity to rethink the status quo," new team president Jason Wright said in a statement. "Over the last year, we’ve created an enhanced online fan experience, and we’ve seen how effective our new media properties and modern approaches have been in engaging fans even when they can’t be at the games.
"The time is right to reimagine our entire gameday experience to reinvent it in a way that reflects our modern identity and aligns with what today’s fan seeks. Coach [Ron] Rivera has done an incredible job on the field. We will elevate our off-the-field product to match.”
Move comes amid lawsuits, misconduct claims
The decision to pause the cheerleading program comes as the Washington Football Team and owner Dan Snyder are caught up in a number of different investigations and sexual misconduct claims.
At least 40 women came forward last year and accused current and former team employees of sexual harassment and misconduct, some of which involves Snyder directly. The Washington Football Team reportedly paid $1.6 million to settle a sexual misconduct claim against him in 2009.
Several allegations involved the cheerleading team, too. A former cheerleader told The Washington Post in 2004 that Snyder allegedly tried to persuade her into sleeping with a friend of his at an event. A former production manager in the broadcasting department claimed that he was asked to edit together a package of “good bits” from a recent cheerleader shoot in Aruba — something that featured the cheerleaders adjusting their bathing suits, revealing their breasts and genitals and more in 2008.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that the independent investigator is ‘nearing the completion of her phase of work” into the investigation of sexual harassment and mistreatment within the organization.
“To me, the important thing in the context of this is that the Washington football club has made a lot of changes already,” Goodell said, via NBC Sports. “They asked for this type of review. They asked for the recommendations on this. Dan and Tanya [Snyder] are going to be done making those changes for the football club. It’s really ... it’s good to see that. But I expect that Beth’s recommendations will be something that will be added to that.”
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