The subject came up this week during locker room interviews in Pittsburgh. While discussing his concerns about playing in Washington, he said:
"I'm not a big fan of playing there because it is loud, they're really good at home and they try to make their cheerleaders stretch in our tunnel before we come out of the locker room. That's just not good".
When asked if the Redskins Cheerleaders (Redskinettes, AKA "First Ladies of Football") can be a distraction to players.
"It can be, let's be truthful. I've heard a rumor that they're not allowed to do it anymore." "Big" Ben said.
It's not just the Redskins' cheerleaders though, other players around the NFL agree it's a problem from other teams too.
Indianapolis Colts' corner-back Marlin Jackson had this to say last year:
"We played down in Tennessee, and it was like something from a movie, you come into the locker room and they're lined up stretching. I was like, 'What's going on here?' It's like something from 'The Longest Yard.' They're in here stretching. We're trying to get warmed up. I think that's a good rule to have."
Michael Strahan, retired New York Giants' sack-master also agreed that it's a problem:
"The cheerleaders are a huge, huge distraction," he writes. "They aren't there just to distract the fans, they're used as a weapon against us, too. We stare at cheerleaders sometimes. It's against the rules for a cheerleader to date a player, but it happens all the time."
And Strahan added this:
"I'll tell you the best girls in the league, by far, are not the famous Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders or the famed Raiderettes. It's not even close, folks. The Washington Redskins get the prize in my book. Every single one of those girls is stunning."
Former NFL GM Charley Casserly reported last year that no longer will [the cheerleaders] be allowed to warm up in front of the visiting team locker room or do their stretching in front of the visiting team locker room and they can't go in the tunnel!
A memo from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was circulated to all teams last season. The story didn't get a lot of attention at the time. But I did find this report from AOL's FanHouse:
Four NFL players said several teams "coincidentally" call on cheerleaders to "warm up" outside the visitors’ locker room. Given the size of NFL stadiums and the fact that most have multiple locker rooms and entrances to the field, the teams that employ this tactic are obviously trying to distract the opposing team minutes before kickoff. But one league official called it the "Redskins’ rule."
Another league official pointed out that the Washington Redskins’ cheerleaders have been a running joke at league meetings for years. In fact, one of them insisted that the cheerleaders are sometimes covered up less than they are on the field.
"It’s absolutely blatant," one of the officials said. "They are strategically placed there (near the locker room) for 'stretching' as the players are entering and exiting the field."
If these suggestions are true, this is not exactly the sort of behavior one would expect from a group dubbed the "First Ladies of Football."
The Redskins, however, insisted that they were not the impetus for the cheerleader ban and the league confirmed their position.
"No one from the league has ever, ever notified us about a concern about this," Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said. "We got the memo at the same time as everyone else."
I did find an interesting post involving ex-Giants backup quarterback Jesse Palmer as well. The folks over at With Leather re-printed an anecdote from an article Palmer had written last year. I can't verify the article exists as the link they provide only brings up an error. But according to With Leather, Palmer wrote this about the Giants' Week 16 game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2005:
In that game we started several drives inside our own 20-yard line, with each drive following a TV timeout. With my back to the end zone in the huddle, I became frustrated because I couldn't make eye contact with any of my 10 teammates as I was trying to call our plays; they were all staring right at the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders who were performing in the end zone.
I remember our offensive linemen shaking their heads in utter amazement, but the classic line came from our tight end, Visanthe Shiancoe, who interrupted me in the middle of a play call and said, "Jesse you really need to turn around and see this…"
Yeah man, forget the damn play call, check out these girls! Oooyyy Veyyy.
Vikings fans, it's good to know your "star" tight end is as focused as he should be isn't it?!
Personally, I never knew! All I have ever wanted to do was watch the football game and the cheerleaders have never distracted me from my goal. How could any player, earning an awful lot of money to "play a game" become distracted by dancing, scantily clad, gorgeous girls? Go figure.
I mean, if it's really this easy, then I say: GO GET 'EM GIRLS!
And by the way, I agree with Strahan, the Redskins' cheerleaders are by far the HOTTEST CHEERLEADERS IN THE NFL.