The NFL sidelines are going to look a little different this year. For the first time, the cheerleading squads of two teams will include men.
The Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints have added males cheerleaders, who will perform the same moves as the women on field. (Some teams already include stuntmen, but they are not considered part of the cheerleading squad.)
Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron will join the Rams squad, while Jesse Hernandez will become a member of the Saints Saintsations. Both men expressed their excitement and disbelief on Twitter.
“This week has been a whirlwind!,” said Peron. “But it’s still so surreal to me that I am one of the First Male cheerleaders to dance for a pro team.”
The move is certainly a step toward gender equality and inclusiveness, but how it will be received by NFL fans remains to be seen. The sport saw a schism form last year amid player protests during the national anthem. And the current divisive nature of the national political scene could embolden some to strongly express seeing men in roles that have historically been filled by scantily clad women.
The threat of that isn’t dampening the excitement for Jinnies, Peron, and Hernandez, though.
All three men will make their NFL debut this Thursday, August 9, when the NFL preseason begins.