Now, with the Rams heading to the Super Bowl, that means more history in the making as the guys are set to become the first-ever male cheerleaders to dance at a Super Bowl.
Quentin Peron, Napoleon Jinnies and Emily Leibert for the LA Rams
The men appeared alongside their coach, Emily Leibert, on Good Morning America today. They say heading to the Super Bowl as part of their first season with the team “feels like a fairy tale.”
“It’s been a crazy 10 months,” said Jinnies. “Dancing hard and really engaging with our community and our team and supporting our players. I can’t believe that we made it to this point, so I’m pretty sure it’s showing off that we’ve been working pretty hard.”
When asked what surprised them the most about their first season, “How crazy our fans are,” said Peron. “We have the best fans ever!”
Leibert gushed about how easily the guys integrated into the squad, saying, “Having these two on the team has been really incredible, and to work community events with them to see the way they’ve been embraced by our fans is pretty unbelievable.”
“They’re extraordinary in that they are trailblazers but they are also totally normal teammates,” she added. “They fit right in.”
The guys share that they’ve heard from men across the country “who are so excited to try out!” And not just adults but younger guys who plan to try out for their junior high and high school cheer teams.
Peron and Jinnies are clearly feeling high on life right now, and they should be.
The Super Bowl featuring the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots airs on CBS, February 3 at 3:30pm EST.
This season will mark the first time in decades that men will be joining the ranks of NFL cheerleader squads.
First to make his debut was 25-year-old Jesse Hernandez who took to the field of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this past Friday for the New Orleans Saints preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
According to Nola.com, for many the historic moment came and went without fanfare although one woman interviewed in the stadium crowd offered her support saying, “If he can dance and perform, I don’t care.”
Another woman chimed in saying, “I think it’s awesome.”
Watch video of Hernandez’s debut below.
Also in the supportive category is Jesse’s mom, Tracey Hernandez, who drove hours to attend her son’s debut performance.
The New Orleans Advocate’s Ramon Antonio Vargas profiled Jesse’s mother in an interview that underscored her total support for her son.
In the interview, she also admitted that Jesse had experienced bullying and harassment for a long time going back to when he became the first male to make his high school dance team in his hometown of Maurice, La. years ago.
“Those people just need to get over it,” Mama Hernandez said. “We’re in 2018. Things shouldn’t be just for men or just for women. If you have the ability to do it, you should be able to do it.”
Some Facebook comments to the Advocate article confirmed her concerns.
Based on the Facebook comments on Vargas’ story, Tracey Hernandez’s fears were realized. One he-man dismissed Jesse as a “gay bait prancing around like a fairy.” “That’s no man,” someone else said. Another ALL-CAPS guy said it was ‘THE NFL PUSHING THE PUSSYCRAT POLE SMOKING ETHICS,” whatever that means.
Other comments: “Homo.” “Pantywaist.” “Sick libturd bullshit.” “What male football fan wants some queer prancing around with the women?” “I’m surprised he hasn’t set off the fire alarms in the Superdome.”
None of that mattered to Hernandez, though, as he took to the field wearing black skinny jeans and a black/white t-shirt with a fleur de lis.
On a personal note, I should add that in my senior year of high school the cheerleading squad looked to add male cheerleaders, and of course, I tried out and got one of the four slots.
I loved cheering. It was fun to stand on a football field in front of sports fans yelling my head off, performing cheers and routines and getting a whole lot of teen tension worked out.
Along the way, the experience impacted my social life at school as I found myself spending lots of time with students I’d gone to school with for years but never got to know.
Many were totally open to the inclusion of men on the squad. However, one of the other GUYS was a total douche to me throughout the year. He’d call me “faggot” on the football field and took any chance he could to ridicule me.
Even though I didn’t really know who “I was” yet, it was those moments that helped me learn to cope with years of homophobia. And part of what I learned was – people learn to accept ‘new’ things far better than we think.
My years as a cheerleader (when I got to Syracuse University, I cheered for three years including being captain) taught me a lot about leadership and social interaction.
And then there’s the fact that I really enjoyed being in front of a crowd/audience 😉
For the first time in NFL history, two men will become cheerleaders for an NFL team.
Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron will be part of the L.A. Rams cheerleaders squad for the 2018/2019 season.
All smiles on Good Morning America, Peron was asked what motivated him to try out: “I thought, ‘Why not me? Why can’t I do this?’ And called my friend and I asked her when auditions were for the Rams and she told me Sunday [March 11] and I showed up.”
Appearing with the men, LA Rams cheerleader captain Emily Leibert extolled the men’s qualifications:
“They really just fit the bill to be a Los Angeles Rams cheerleader. They are intelligent, they are eloquent, they are more than qualified to be ambassadors out in the community. They bring so much energy and there’s something so magnetic about their performance, you really can’t take your eyes off them.”
Full disclosure – in my senior year of high school, the cheerleading coach decided to add 4 guys to what had been an all-girl squad for decades. Just like Quinton, I thought “I want to do that!”
And I did. And had a ball.
When I got to Syracuse University, by a fluke, I happened to be in the university gym when the cheering squad was practicing and I stopped to watch. Eventually, I walked over to say ‘hi,’ and found out they had just lost a male team member. And, in a rarity for a freshman, I got the spot.
I cheered three years for the Orangemen and was captain of the squad my last year. It was thrilling to be on the grounds of the Carrier Dome cheering during football and basketball games.
If you’re a high energy guy in your college years, it’s a great way to burn some of that off. I loved it.
You can check out their amazing dancing at the tryouts and see the moments they discovered they made the cut:
Me top of the pic center as a college cheerleader at Syracuse University in 1982
right after cheerleading accident on national TV
My college cheerleading buddy, Ken Fischer, pointed out that an early national news story in my life happened 35 years ago today. The story was run today as a #ThrowbackThursday item on Syracuse.com:
Syracuse versus Georgetown basketball games in the 1980s were always must-see events.
The game between the Orange and the Hoyas on Jan. 17, 1982 was another highly anticipated matchup between the teams. Georgetown was ranked seventh in the nation and had won 13 games in a row.
The game was shown nationally on NBC with Syracuse alum Bob Costas on the call.
When it was over, though, few were talking about Syracuse’s 75-70 upset win, or the second largest crowd ever to see a college game.
Instead, a cheerleader’s fall and her agonizing scream was what was remembered.
The Syracuse cheerleaders had gone out onto the court after the game’s first timeout and formed a human pyramid, three bodies high. When 5-foot-1-inch Michelle Munn, from Sayre, Pennsylvania, flipped from the top, no one was there to break her fall.
She landed on her head, and the large crowd hushed.
Post-Standard reporter Mark Wallinger wrote that all “that could be heard was the hum of the electrical fan keeping the Teflon dome inflated and Michelle’s wails and screams.”
The cheerleaders had practiced the stunt – called a Swedish Roll – for about three weeks, but it was the first time they had attempted it in public.
Later, cheerleaders speculated that Munn may have miscalculated her jump because of the noise of the loud crowd, starting her count too early before her spotter was in position.
Paramedics at the game rushed the engineering major and cheerleading co-captain, to Crouse-Irving Memorial Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a fractured skull.
Her parents rushed to join her, as did her fiance, who was watching the game on TV from her apartment.
She was listed in satisfactory condition.
Forty minutes after the accident, the Dome crowd was informed that Munn was in “very stable condition,” which brought a loud cheer.
Munn returned to campus a couple of weeks later.
She said she did not know what went wrong with the stunt, and said she could not recall much about the accident.
“I vaguely remember crashing into something, but nothing’s very clear,” she told the newspaper.
Despite headaches and backaches she was able to return to class but had no idea when she could rejoin the cheerleading squad.
She would hesitate “only a moment” before attempting the pyramid stunt again, and disagreed with some calling for it to be banned.
She said,”Every sport is going to have some risk to it.”
My cheerleading partner, Lisa, in mid-air during the accident
I remember exactly what happened: we had been doing the pyramid called a “Swedish Roll” for some time. Two sets of shoulder stand with a girl held like a beam parallel to the floor. The two girls were my partner, Lisa, and Michelle. They would hit the position, with one leg lifted, then Michelle would call “roll” and the girls would drop into the arms of guys waiting below.
A new element we had just incorporated was two guys flipping under the towers via mini trampolines before the “roll.” Nothing dangerous, basically a dive roll and then the girls would dismount as usual. But it was the first timeout with a huge crowd playing Georgetown, big rival, adrenaline rushing as we hit the court.
We did the pyramid like we had done, but before the guys could flip, Michelle (who was one of the squad captains) looked at Lisa and yelled “one, two, roll!’ As Lisa tried to stop her from going, Michelle went, and hit Reed (who was in mid-air flipping) on her way down. Because she went early and the mini tramp was still there, no one was in place to catch her.
The whole thing led to a big national debate about cheering safety.
It’s amazing to me that all the details from that moment are so clear in memory today, 35 years later.
For three of my four years at Syracuse University I was a cheerleader (captain of the squad my last year), and the joke in coming up with cheers was that no word in the English language rhymes with “orange.”
Well, it appears I was wrong.
To the current Orangemen cheerleaders, take this and run with it. You can do it, I know you can 🙂
Both my husband Michael and I were college cheerleaders. The couple in the video below is uber-impressive.
I should add about my cheerleading career that my dad, who was an amazing athlete his entire life, loved that I FINALLY got involved in something athletic when cheerleading came along for me. My senior year in high school, male cheerleaders were added to the squad. And it was something that I naturally excelled at. I really enjoyed the performance aspect, I guess.
When I got to Syracuse University my freshman year, I happened to wander into the college gym where the cheerleaders were practicing. I watched for a while, waxing nostalgic, and at some point someone from the squad said ‘hello.’ Although SU usually didn’t have freshman cheerleaders, they had just lost one of their guys to who got a rare spot at the Ringling Bros/Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown school – and off he had gone. So, out of luck, I was recruited and began my college cheering career.
I had some great times being a part of that squad. And it led to great friendships, and my pledging Sigma Chi fraternity. (That is a story we’ll leave for another time…)
In any case, check out these two below. They rock.