NFL Cheerleaders: Behind the Scenes Part One

HONOLULU, HI - FEBRUARY 08: Cheerleaders pose for a photo after the 2009 NFL Pro Bowl between the AFC All-Stars and the NFC All-Stars at Aloha Stadium on February 8, 2009 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The NFC defeated the AFC 30-21. (Photo by Paul Spinelli/Getty Images)
Suzette Lampard BrantleyAnalyst IJune 13, 2009

For 32 teams of the NFL, June is for the heavily regulated Organized Team Activities (OTA's) at their team facilities.

For 26 other NFL teams, the roster is already set. When the players are still hoping to make their squad, the NFL cheerleaders season is in full swing.

Yes, there are STILL six teams who currently do not have sisters of the sidelines. Bears, Browns, Giants, Lions, Packers and Steelers are the hold outs, but that's a story for another day.

The NFL cheerleader has little if any offseason. Tryouts generally coincide with draft time. The difference being we must be in our best form, unless you want to be cut during the first round.

Conditioning is EVERYTHING! We cannot show up with torn ACL's or stained hamstrings and expect to be on this years squad. Getting hurt today could be a season or possible career ending injury.

We are not allowed the luxury of showing up 10 pounds heavier then last year. It's crunch time.

From the time the gates are unlocked, it is a playoff mentality.

And we are ready. This IS our NFL. We didn't dream of throwing the winning touchdown, we cheered for our brothers back in little league. We are ready do astound the keepers of our dream with our dance ability, game acuity and personality.

First is group interviews. It usually consists of name, hometown and something personal you'd like to add. Next varies, some auditions start with solo's brought from home and then move to learned choreography, while others start with group dance and whittle down before smaller groups and/or solos.

Now its the waiting...and the waiting...and the "I can't take this anymore, this is killing me", and then...

The announcements begin and we wait to hear our number. As each is called the floor erupts with cheer, another one of us gets her dream come true. Now time to relax.

Not so fast, practice begins the following week. There are uniforms to be fitted, this is generally done during the first gathering followed by refinement of a the tryout routine. We can not do charity events or appearences until these two things are ready.

There are contracts to be signed, an no it does not have to do with weight. It deals more with being a representative of the NFL. That's when it really starts to set in. We made it!

The first preseason game will be here in the blink of an eye. It will be our turn to cheer on our boys. It is our job to keep the 12th man on the field during a crucial time.

We love to cheer and we love our team. We are counting down until the first game. We can't wait to step on the field where we'll greet the team as they are announced.

When we hear the "Star Spangled Banner" play, we will all feel the energy. Then it's game time! Is it August yet?

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