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Replacement Cheerleaders Face Growing Criticism
NEW YORK (CAP) - What started as a peculiar curiosity early in the season with substitute cheerleaders taking the field at various NFL venues in place of their striking counterparts has turned into more of a morbid curiosity as fans and players alike watch their teams' support systems totally fall apart.
"First the refs and now this?" NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was overheard saying during the last Miami Dolphins home game. "And these replacements aren't even that attractive - what's that thing on that girl's face?!?
"If those guys who hold the parabolic mics go on strike, we might as well just pack it in this season," Goodell added.
And while a recent ESPN.com poll found looks to be the number one thing lacking in the replacement cheerleading squads, league officials who spoke with CAP News on the condition of anonymity said their presence is starting to affect the teams' play on the field as well.
"I swear, if these girls misspell Bills in a cheer one more time, I'm gonna personally pluck every black hair off of each one of their crusty upper lips," bemoaned one Buffalo Bills front office executive. "God bless us all if they try to do a cheer that includes the word defense."
A review of film from the Jacksonville Jaguars home opener showed that the replacement cheerleaders missed crucial cheering opportunities while the Jags had possession of the ball, resulting in the team's inability to put together many successful drives and only reach the endzone once in a 27-7 loss to the Texans. Players later said they felt like they were "all alone out there" for most of the game.
"Nothing like coming out of the huddle and glancing over to the sideline for encouragement just to see some heinous chick picking her nose," said quarterback Blaine Gabbert. "At least, I think it was a chick. I'm really not sure. But that finger was definitely two knuckles deep."
Other teams have been victimized by poorly executed cheers that killed rallies, mismatched outfits that distracted coaches, and the now-infamous Pom-Pom Incident from the Seahawks-Cardinals game. Running back Ryan Williams told CAP News that when he closes his eyes, he can still see the chipmunk-toothed cheerleader shaking her pom-poms in his face after he fumbled the ball in the first quarter.
"And oh my God, the cackling - that voice just went right through me," Williams said as he shuddered. "That's all I can hear now when I carry the ball, which as you know has not been very successful. And I swear she called me Beanie."
Goodell and other NFL officials have a series of meetings scheduled to discuss the situation, although sources say the league has no intention of caving to the striking cheerleaders and no alternative solutions in mind. One source told CAP News that Goodell has ordered a sit-down meeting with the league mascot union chief, stating that "we can't lose them, too."
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