By Ron Hart
Amid the run-up to the midterm elections football has begun in earnest. The National Football League is a nice respite for all who hate political ads yet still enjoy the primal pleasure of watching millionaires rip each other to shreds.
As the league awkwardly handles the horrific Ray Rice domestic violence case, NFL teams are also untangling themselves from lawsuits alleging poor working conditions and inadequate pay brought by former team cheerleaders.
The timing of all this is bad for the NFL which has been reaching out to women. 45% of new fans are women. The league even added a woman referee and the gender clash was evident. When the woman ref would throw a flag and the player would ask what he did, she would just snip, “I think you know what you did wrong.” And then she would administer the penalty: ten minutes of tense silence.
Last week, the Oakland Raiderettes settled with the team for $1,250,000 or, as their lawyers told them, a quarter million dollars. The settlement gives past Raider cheerleaders about $3,800 each and the lawyers Bentleys. Such is the nature of class action lawsuits in the People’s Republic of California.
The Buffalo Bills cheerleaders, the “Jill’s,” did not get paid Jack. They did get game tickets and parking passes plus all the STDs and out of wedlock babies from the players they wanted. To be fair, if New York City has the most beautiful women in the U.S., Buffalo would be the sketchy tattoo you don’t want people to know about.
Making matters worse, Donald Trump tried to buy the Buffalo team. Trump clearly loves football; why else would he wear that helmet hair?
Among its other classy distinctions, O.J. Simpson played for Buffalo. If you had told me years ago that a famed NFL running back who played at Southern Cal would murder his wife and a jury would let him go, I would have bet all I had that it would be Frank Gifford. O.J. should have played in the NFL today. He would have only gotten a two game suspension for murdering his wife under Roger Goodell, the commissioner who pays himself $44 million for running the federally sanctioned NFL monopoly.
Some teams do not have cheerleaders. The Pittsburgh Steelers had problems having cheerleaders on the field as their proximity violated the 100-feet-away-from-women restraining order against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. His is the only NFL jersey deemed worthy of hanging in the Clinton Presidential Library.
The team that pays its cheerleaders the most is the Dallas Cowboys. Those cheerleaders are iconic and, much like their football team and the Kardashians, have minimal talent, are famous for being famous and involve a lot of dated players.
So what happens when lawsuits such as these happen? In Buffalo the Jill’s were disbanded. It should not be up to lawyers and the court system to price labor and certainly not volunteer work. I no longer have interns because similar litigation made hiring them a hassle. This denies kids opportunities to learn and to showcase their talents. Warren Buffett famously worked for his mentor, Benjamin Graham, for free.
The suit upsets most sensible former NFL cheerleaders. Lori Marino, who cheered 13 seasons and two Super Bowls for the Jill’s said, “They were well informed going into tryouts that the cheerleader squad wasn’t a paid job; it wasn’t a job at all. It was a sport to be enjoyed.”
Can the folks who volunteer at the Masters, or any local professional golfing event, to support their community and get close to the action of the sport they love now sue for their time? Can Boy Scout leaders or Little League coaches now sue for back pay?
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady makes $19 million a year, less than half of what his spouse, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, earns. Plus her income stream is safer; no NFL team ever locked out a top model. Yet Brady doesn’t get his panties in a bundchen and sue over it.
Being an NFL cheerleader is an honor. Most have other jobs. Cheering supports the local team, is a civic hometown volunteer activity, opens doors and gives the women sideline seats to the biggest show in town. If these ladies do not like what cheerleading for their NFL team entails they can take theirs elsewhere. And if they don’t want to cheer, there are 500 willing women lined up behind them. They shouldn’t ruin it for everyone.