The allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behavior surrounding WFT’s cheerleader photos have prompted the NFL to launch an investigation. The results of that investigation led to a $10 million fine for the team. Earlier this summer, the NFL reopened its investigation to examine part of the 650,000 emails it received. The findings are still not public, but the images that were used in the photoshoot were cited as evidence against the team and its head coach, Jon Gruden.
The NFL’s investigation uncovered a video involving the topless pictures of former Washington Football Team cheerleaders sent to Gruden by a team member who had an affair with the owner of the organization. The video was released to the public for the first time in 2020 and is said to show Washington Football Team staffers being instructed to shoot only the “good bits” of a swimsuit photoshoot. The photos showed bare nipples and the pubic area. The Washington Post reported the story in 2020 and contacted WFT team owner Daniel Snyder. He denied the allegations.
In response to the allegations, former WFT cheerleader Melanie Coburn and other former WFT staff members are calling for the NFL to release the full findings of its investigation into workplace culture. The leaked emails included racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments. The allegations led to the resignation of Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. The cheerleaders’ allegations were further exacerbated by the revelation that a coach at WFT had encouraged coaches to send inappropriate photos to squad members through emails.
As the scandal has spread, cheerleaders are feeling betrayed. One former cheerleader, Heather Tran, demanded that the 2008 calendar photo shoot be done in a closed space to protect her privacy. She felt betrayed because her private areas were being shown even when she was covered up by body paint. She was paid $1,000 a year and felt violated. Nevertheless, the cheerleaders are still being paid for their efforts, but her dignity and privacy have been violated.
Another scandal was when the Washington Redskins’ cheerleading squad was forced to take a photoshoot in Costa Rica. The cheerleaders had to give up their passports upon arrival at the resort. In order to prevent them from using the documents to travel, officials at the resort were denying them official identification. While there, the cheerleaders had to pose in revealing outfits and body paint. Some of the cheerleaders also had to go topless for the photoshoot.
The scandal was uncovered in a video posted by NBC News. The cheerleader’s exposed nipples were filmed during the NBC News’ video. The video’s NBC News reporter even questioned whether the cheerleader was wearing a bikini bottom. In fact, this cheerleader sparked a furious debate, which was resolved by the WFT’s president. While some cheerleaders may have been embarrassment over their nipples, the NBC News video was hilarious.
Scourby recalled the incident on condition of anonymity. She told a friend about it a few days later. She did not know if Roberts was aware of the remark but continued her work as a cheerleader. She was captain in 2008 and maintains a connection with the team as a sideline assistant and volunteer coach. After Fight Night, Scourby said, “I feel so relieved and happy that I was able to continue my cheerleading career.”