Ever wonder what it takes to become a professional cheerleader in the NFL? It’s more than just hyping up the crowd. Here are the most interesting facts and requirements to join a squad on an NFL franchise.
Cheerleaders can be as young as 18-19 for some teams—but the average reported age of an NFL cheerleader is 25.
Three figures per game
They’re not in it for the money. While a typical NFL player earns a yearly salary of $860,000, according to the Seattle Sea Gals’ rules those cheerleaders earn between $100 to $200 a game.
They maintain their own uniforms
Equipment staff handles the uniforms for pro football players. But cheerleaders do it for themselves.
Members of the Seattle Sea Gals are given team-owned uniforms that must be cleaned and kept in working order by the cheerleaders, who pay for such maintenance out of their own pockets.
They bring in big revenue
According to a 2003 Forbes report, cheerleaders account for more than $1 million in team revenue each year. More than a decade later, that revenue is expected to have risen.
No dating the co-workers
According to the three-page Sea Gals rules, cheerleaders are discouraged from “fraternization, dating, cohabiting or marrying current Seahawks employees,” which also includes the team’s mascot.
Some uniforms are classics
The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders haven’t made a modification to their attire since 2002, when a western-styled belt with a large buckle was added to the shorts.
Auditions are a long a process
With hundreds of women auditioning every year to be a Cowboys cheerleader, it’s not surprising that the selection process is arduous.
The Cowboys cheerleader gauntlet includes “application, preliminary audition, semi-final audition, personal interview, written test and final talent auditions,” per the team’s website.
Fourteen years after being diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, Kriste Lewis decided to try out for the New Orleans Saints’ cheer squad. At 40, Lewis made the Saintsations. She’s now the oldest cheerleader in the NFL at 42.
Only one team has cheer-men
The Baltimore Ravens are the only NFL franchise to have male cheerleaders on their squad. The 21 male cheerleaders earn a $100-a-game stipend each for their work on the sidelines.
Calendar shoots are mandatory
Many events are mandated for NFL cheerleaders, including the annual calendar shoot. While the cheerleaders get taken to an exotic location for the photo shoot, it’s not all fun and games ...
They buy, they sell
According to Deadspin, Ravens cheerleaders havebeen required to not only pose for the calendar but also buy an allotted amount—for women, it’s 100; for men, it’s 20. The cheerleaders are expected to sell them for a profit.
Their peers send them to the show
Selected by their peers, only one cheerleader per squad is elected to the NFL Pro Bowl.
Their jiggle gets tested?
According to a lawsuit filed by five members of the Buffalo Jills and covered by Deadspin, the Bills’ cheerleaders faced weekly “jiggle tests.”
“During the ‘Jiggle Test,’ defendants scrutinized the women’s stomach[s], arms, legs, hips and butt while [they did] jumping jacks,” according to the suit.
The Bills have denied the allegations in the suit, which is still pending.
Teri Hatcher is a former 49ers cheerleader
Before starring in “Desperate Housewives,” Teri Hatcher was a member of the San Francisco 49ers’ cheerleading squad, the Gold Rush, in the early 1980s.
Phyllis from "The Office" was a cheerleader
Remember Phyllis from NBC’s “The Office?” Before playing a paper saleswoman at Dunder Mifflin, actress Phyllis Smith waved her pom-poms on the Cardinals’ sideline. In the 1970s, Smith spent a year as a cheerleader for the then St. Louis Cardinals.
Diploma or GED is required
Each squad requires members to have a GED or to have graduated high school. There are no official height or weight requirements, except “you should look well proportioned in dancewear,” according to the Dallas Cowboys’ audition FAQ.
Six teams don’t have cheerleaders
With the addition of cheerleaders to the Lions’ home games this season, that leaves just six franchises without cheerleaders in the NFL: Bills, Bears, Browns, Steelers, Packers and Giants.
Chewing gum could be enforced
The three-page rulebook posted on the Seahawks’ website also says the Sea Gals can be required to chew gum at the discretion of their director.
To be eligible for an NFL cheerleading squad, each member is required to have a full-time job elsewhere. Being a full-time student also works.