American football and cheerleading go together like peanut butter and jelly. Critics may claim NFL cheerleaders are "bimbos," but brains and bosses abound within their circles.
An NFL cheerleader's main job is to be a lady at all times. Being gracious and kind to people and fans, while upholding the NFL's impeccable image, is their occupation. In addition to hyping the crowds, NFL cheerleaders are entertainers and promote their teams through public relations.
Today only 25 of 32 NFL teams have cheerleaders. The Bears, Browns, Giants, Jets, Lions, Packers and Steelers are lacking in this area. The Chicago Honey Bears were popular back in the day, but who are today's hottest NFL boot squad honeys?
Join me as I analyze the ladies, and decide for yourself.
My No. 25 booted squadron, these purple and gold princesses started as the Vi-Queens. They are now the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders—top of the class.
These ladies now specialize in giving the team more media exposure, air time, fans and favorable community presence.
The dome community where the Vikings play lets these queens rock-n-roll in their boots on dry land versus snow, rain or mud.
Speaking of mud, get your mind out of it young lads. These ladies have class.
The Patriots have another classy cheerleading squad to egg on their competitive fans.
The job of being a New England lady is highly competitive because cheerleaders usually get Super Bowl rings. Almost every year during the Tom Brady era, the Patriots are there—good as white gold.
Not to fret New England, No. 24 on this list is still as good as gold.
In your eyes, which suited and booted dance squad has the most finesse, class and sex appeal about themselves? My No. 23 squad comes from near New England.
From 1960-1965, these grown and professional babes were once the Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders. In 1967, they switched their name to the Buffalo Jills.
They may not have had much to cheer about in recent seasons, but they always keep smiling.
These energetic NFL ladies come from all types of backgrounds: models, actresses or athletes. Some are PETA supporters and hold a Ph.D, others are private nurses, attorneys and teachers.
The "Jills" may be one of the NFL's cold weather squadrons, but they warm the hearts of fans everywhere.
Speaking of warm hearts, wild horses couldn't drive cowboys cooking on the prairie away from these ladies.
Since 1977, the Broncos' cheerleaders have served as dignified entertainment, and they represent the Mile-High boot club at No. 22 on this list.
Riding hard in the saddle watching these ladies perform, Broncos fans love them some orange crush.
Speaking of crush, those who have them on NFL cheerleaders—crushes, not stalking tendencies—apparently have hope.
It's a misconception that NFL cheerleaders live rich glamorous lives and have affairs with NFL ballers. A couple might slip through the cracks, but most dancers perform on the sidelines for practically nothing.
In fact, they are usually prohibited from fraternizing with players.
Just because they can't fraternize with players, does not mean they will be fraternizing with you.
A lot of them don't have the time to date, or the money. Most get paid about $65 per game. Some get paid $1,000 per month—on salary. Those are elite ones though, who have been in the game or with the same organization for a while.
In a way, they're all elite when it comes to being part of the NFL. My No. 21 ranked boot squad goes hard in the paint in Seattle—as you can see in this photograph.
My No. 20 ranked team's picture is worth 1,000 words.
Once known as the "Embraceable Ewes," the Rams' squad started out in L.A. in 1974. The Ewes should have a lot of fun the next few years: the Rams have a bright future with Sam Bradford scoring touchdowns and these ladies providing the cheers.
When they aren't cheering, the Ewes have fun off the field serving the community.
During the week, Candace Parker, 28, is a lawyer for the Missouri State Public Defender System (MSPD). She is also a proud mother with a young son.
The picture, left, is not Candace Parker, but it is still worth 1,000 words. One of them is "wow."
According to NFL.com, the Baltimore Colts had the first ever cheerleading squad. It was back in the 1950's, and the ladies were part of the team's marching band. Yes, NFL teams once had marching bands also.
Since 1998, the Baltimore franchise has been nicknamed the Ravens, and according to the team's website, they are one of few NFL squads who use male stunt cheerleaders.
In 2008, the Ravens' cheerleaders released their first ever swimsuit calendar. Featuring 16 months of beautiful women, the calendar was shot in Punta Cana
The team could be vacationing in Punta Cana after this weekend...
Cheering takes hard work and dedication to make the select few in the NFL.
On average, nearly 200 potential cheerleaders audition for the Ben-Gals. At NFL cheerleading auditions this size, five or more rounds of dancing are involved.
Cuts are made after a certain round. Interviews, physicals and more cuts could ensue, and in the final rounds, survivors may get invited to practice with the cheerleaders.
The Ben-Gals formed their NFL Dance Team in 1976. Chad Ochocinco was not around then to propose to a cheerleader, and for that, we should all be thankful.
Be thankful in the "Nati." At No. 18, the Ben-Gals' boot squad is not overrated.
The Bengals' football squad certainly was though in 2010.
There's no underestimating the electricity in the air when the Philadelphia Eagles' squad is on the sidelines.
The No. 17 NFL boot babes on my list, like most teams, are expected to make at least 20 appearances per year.
Appearances could last from two to four hours, and fees could range from $125 to $250 per hour, per cheerleader. Fundraisers and charity events usually cost less, while corporate functions usually cost more.
The ladies are expected to be in good moods and appear picture-ready early in the morning on some occasions. This is an old school photograph, but you can still see the type of bodies of which cheerleaders are often required.
Requiring a hot body is normal in the nation's capital. Formerly known as the "Redskinettes," the No. 16 squad on my list has been heating up sidelines and stadiums since 1962.
On game days, practices could start as early as 7:00 a.m. They usually find some kind of surprise waiting for them though, such as new outfits, boots or boy shorts.
This helps ease the hours of rehearsal, learning brand new routines on the fly and sometimes rehearsing in 90 to 100-degree heat.
I hope that type of heat is rare—wouldn't want these ladies sweating.
The No. 15 squad debuted in 1996 when the franchise started playing games and making NFL highlight reels.
Aqua blue is too bright for highlighters, but it looks fine on a NFL dance skirt.
The team is currently at home watching the playoffs instead of having their women perform on the sidelines. These ladies draw smiles from national audiences and even smile as they sprint off the field.
Nothing could finer than to be in Carolina. I wonder if they have any cowgirls?
Whatever the weather, these agreeable ladies have some of the most eye-catching costumes and routines in the NFL. Some of these women can kick almost as high as the sky it seems.
At No. 14 on my list, the squad from Tennessee could easily be in the top 10. Maybe one of them should be hired to punt barefoot for the Titans. Ouch.
When I think of the Dolphins, I think of former place kicker Garro Yepremian, trying to throw a forward pass after a botched snap in Super Bowl VII.
The ball between his fingers was as slippery as the fish that saved Miami. Jerry Izenberg said of Yepremian: "As a forward passer, he was a great place kicker."
Unlike an NFL dance team, the holder, snapper and place kicker showed little solidarity on that play.
Cheerleaders have solidarity in movement, and that's important for being an elite squad. These ladies are pros in front of the camera. Some of them—the elite of the elite—could even make it to the Pro Bowl.
At lucky No. 13 on my list, the Miami Dolphins' cheerleaders have a few Pro Bowl beauties—like the next team on the list.
Considered by many to be the cheerleading squad in the NFL, this team has been in existence since 1960 when they cheered in "Big D" for the Dallas Texans.
Go cowgirls—the real cowgirls.
The Cowboys' dancers may be the best thing happening on the field in Dallas—and at the Pro Bowl.
Bonnie-Jill Laflin, a former Cowboys cheerleader, is one of the NBA's first female scouts—the first for the L.A. Lakers. She is also an assistant general manager for the L.A. D-Fenders—the Lakers D-League team.
You go cowgirl!
Like Cowgirls, these ladies can help ride the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl.
I don't have to defend the fact that year after year the Colts are an NFL team with a corps of gorgeous cheerleaders.
They'll be on display once again before a live national audience this weekend; the Colts play the New York Jets on NBC Saturday night.
Prime time should be fun with these ladies cheering. Lights, camera and action.
The lights and cameras have been rolling on the Oakland sidelines since 1961.
That's when the Raiderettes came on the scene and brought a measure of beauty to Raider nation.
Always elegant and classy, these women personify beauty and brains. Their routines are also action packed, much like the No. 9 ranked squad on this list.
Beauty and brains have been required to make this squad since the 1960's—not to mention great gams.
With the Chiefs back on top of the AFC West, these gams will be on display before America this weekend.
The ladies can handle the attention, I'm sure.
I'm sure there are better-looking, more sophisticated women who make up the No. 8 squad on this list.
I just don't know where to find them, where they're listed or where they're hiding.
These California girls deserve to be No. 7 on this list.
Here's a name for you: designer Angela King-Titero.
She is known for being a San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush coach and creator behind the costumes for a few other NFL cheerleading teams.
A former Gold Rush cheerleader—Teri Hatcher—is now reportedly being paid more than $285,000 per episode for her role on "Desperate Housewives."
These ladies aren't desperate, though, and many are wives.
Black and gold goes well with NFL cheerleaders' boots.
I'm not sure what bridges the Pittsburgh Steelers organization are burning, but they don't have cheerleaders—and their uniforms are black and gold. A travesty of the highest order.
The No. 6 squad on this list has been around since 1977 and may be headed back to the Super Bowl this year.
Even during the "Aints" years, I highly doubt anyone wore a paper bag over their head when these ladies performed.
The letter "B" stands for "Buckettes in Booties" among Bay-area bums. I didn't say which bums or which Bay area.
At No. 5, the beautiful babes of Tampa Bay aren't pressed for curves to accentuate their heels.
Speaking of good press, they are all over the community when it comes to public relations and organization appearances. They have one of the loveliest group of ladies in the NFL, and their routines are second to none.
Someone has to be ranked No. 5 though, and you are it ladies—sorry.
In NFL dance team circles, a good pair of boots sets off a woman's curves, and the Bucs get it. No need to apologize for that.
In fact, thanks for sharing it.
It's hard to disagree with the allure of NFL cheerleaders on the sidelines.
Ranked No. 4 on my list—can you believe it?—the San Diego Superchargers are fortunate enough to dance in some of the best weather in the NFL.
The team's costumes often reflect this luxury.
Dancers in pink outfits seem to put some observers in a trance. If dancers are wearing red, then the crowd gets more excited—in theory.
I'm colorblind so who cares about the color of the costume? These ladies in red, white and black are a caring outfit.
They participate in community service projects and correspond with fans on a regular basis. At No. 3 on my list, the ATL shouldn't be concerned about the ladies there. They have more than enough juice to get it poppin'.
Known as the Jacksonville ROAR, these babes have the luxury of weather. Whether or not they're wearing anklets or thigh-highs, they could be No. 1 on my list.
Whoever thought skinny jeans could be a uniform, they thought right.
This is the type of innovation that keeps NFL cheerleading squads a very popular, and almost indispensable, acquisition.
The No. 1 NFL boot squad honeys for 2011 are—drum roll please—the ladies of Houston.
The franchise was born in 2002, and so was this group of ladies from the great state of Texas.
There is no predicting what color scheme or costume combination the Texans' ladies will sport next. Their kicks are always fly, and their shakers always crisp.
With beautifully-choreographed routines, perfect synchronizations and powerful expressions, they are No. 1 for a reason.
The Texans' salute to breast cancer awareness was a magnificent display of athleticism and aggressiveness in choreography—part of the reason they're No. 1 on my list.
While they probably don't make much waving pom-poms, cheerleading entertainers always have something to fall back on—big guns.
Thanks for joining me, your friendly neighborhood gunner. I hope you were entertained.
Anyone not entertained?
Quick—a show of hands.