‘It’s 2019. It had to happen’


Napoleon Jinnies cheerleadingImage copyright
Getty Images

Sunday night was the 53rd time two teams walked out on to the field to contest the Super Bowl – and the first time ever male cheerleaders were included.

Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron made history when they stood on the sidelines with the LA Rams during America’s most-watched TV event.

The Rams duo became the first male cheerleaders in the NFL earlier this season, along with Jesse Hernandez of the New Orleans Saints.

Steven Leslie is an LA Rams fan from Fife who’s not missed a single one of the team’s games for the last four years.

“They’re very, very popular,” the 29-year-old tells Radio 1 Newsbeat in Centennial Park, Atlanta, a short walk away from where the game was played on Sunday.

“The two guys are great. They’ve been brilliant all season.

“There’s been no backlash or anything silly like that, it’s just been embraced. It has to happen, it’s 2019 now.”

There’s never been a ban on male cheerleaders in the NFL, and it’s pretty common to see men cheerleading alongside women at college and high school football matches in the US.

But it wasn’t until the opening game day of the 2018 season that a man first stepped on to the field during an NFL game as part of a cheerleading team.

Men have been involved for some NFL teams, but were called stunt men and performed different moves to the female cheerleaders.

Napoleon and Quinton are classically trained dancers and were among 300 people who auditioned to be Rams cheerleaders last year.

Clearly they impressed.

“The whole world, especially the world of entertainment, is in a place of being open. And if you can do the job then why not?” Napoleon told CBS.

“It’s like a fairytale,” Quinton said to Good Morning America.

“It’s really cool to see guys in the NFL now,” Lauren, from Atlanta, told Newsbeat.

“I was a college cheerleader and we had guys on the field… I love it, I think it’s great.”

Image caption

Steven has been impressed with Rams cheerleaders Napoleon and Quinton this season

When Quinton and Napoleon’s upcoming Super Bowl performance first made headlines there were some negative tweets about their inclusion.

But when Newsbeat spoke to Rams and Patriots fans, the reactions ranged from really positive to indifferent: “It’s 2019” was a common statement.

Napoleon and Quinton have said that lots of men have told them how excited they are to try out for cheer teams next year and Steven, from Fife, thinks this is only the beginning for male cheerleaders in the NFL.

“I think it’s great, and I think it’s going to be something that is done going forward for every team.”

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra – if you miss us you can listen back here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.