NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell unveiled the league’s new conduct policy today, perhaps giving new teeth to efforts to make professional football just slightly less anti-female. Of course, there’s other forms of institutionalized discrimination less egregious than say, a player’s spouse being knocked unconscious. Dubbed “3rd party vendors” by the Buffalo Bills and fracking tycoon owners Terry and Kim Pegula (above), the team’s since disbanded cheerleading squad, the Jills, include at least one former member who tells the New York Times’ Brendan Bannon, “I ended up feeling like a piece of meat.” Even worse, an unpaid piece of meat.
Supervisors ordered the cheerleaders, known as the Buffalo Jills, to warm up in a frigid, grubby stadium storeroom that smelled of gasoline. They demanded that cheerleaders pay $650 for uniforms. They told the cheerleaders to do jumping jacks to see if flesh jiggled.
The Jills were required to attend a golf tournament for sponsors. The high rollers paid cash — “Flips for Tips” — to watch bikini-clad cheerleaders do back flips. Afterward, the men placed bids on which women would ride around in their golf carts.
A not-incidental detail: The carts had no extra seats. Women clung to the back or, much more to the point, were invited to sit in the men’s laps.
For these and more humiliations, and for hundreds of hours of work and practices, Alyssa and her fellow cheerleaders on the Buffalo Jills received not a penny of wages, not from the subcontractor and certainly not from the Buffalo Bills, a team that each year makes revenue in excess of $200 million.
The team’s contractor handed the women a contract and a personnel code, and told them to sign on the spot. The team dictated everything from the color of their hair to how they handled their menstrual cycle.
The contractor required they visit a sponsor who was a plastic surgeon. He offered a small discount if they opted for breast augmentation and other services. Larger breasts, however, were not a condition of nonpaid employment.