The Washington Football Team will have a coed dance team to replace the cheerleading squad, the organization announced Wednesday.
Washington has been embroiled in controversy after several former cheerleading members accused team owner Daniel Snyder and others involved with the franchise of sexual misconduct. The matter has since been resolved but the details of the settlement weren’t revealed.
The organization named Petra Pope its senior adviser to revamp its game day experience as part of the team’s campaign to rebrand. Pope was the manager of the famous Laker Girls and launched the Knicks City Dancers. She has 33 years of NBA experience under her belt.
“Petra’s NBA track record speaks for itself,” Washington Football Team president Jason Wright said in a news release. “Teams across sports aspire to develop entertainment and halftime programs like the legendary creative work Petra was able to produce with the Knicks, Nets, Lakers and Clippers. As we set out to modernize the Washington Football game day, it’s important that we develop a top-notch entertainment program that keeps our fan base excited and connected to the game and the team. We believe Petra is the ideal person to lead this charge and bring her extraordinary background to the gridiron.”
Pope’s responsibilities will include the creation of game day entertainment programs. She called the move to Washington a “dream opportunity.”
“The NBA has long embraced innovative dance and halftime shows, but most NFL teams have remained more oriented toward traditional cheerleading programs,” she said. “Last season, Washington established itself as the most forward-thinking, progressive organization in the league. It is fitting that it would be first to develop a vision of the future. Fans can expect an experience like none other – a gender-neutral and diverse squad of athletes and dancers whose choreography, costumes, props, tricks and stunts will rival the best entertainment across genres and really inspire and ‘wow’ our fans.
“The Washington Football Team has always done an incredible job connecting with the community. That is certainly an area that we’ll not only continue, but expand. Washington has so much to offer and I look forward to building an inclusive program that involves men and women, professionals and local amateurs, performers and musical artists. Our goal is to make every game a Super Bowl experience.”
Pope said the contracts of the previous members of the cheerleading squad expired but they are able to try out for the 2021 iteration of the team.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.