- - Thursday, May 3, 2018

If you are a Redskins fan and have read the New York Times story about how some of the team’s cheerleaders claim they were pressured into serving as escorts for clients and felt uncomfortable during topless photo shoots on a trip to Costa Rica, you’re probably angry.

The question is, angry at who? Angry with the team for appearing to condone such behavior?

Angry with the reporter and the New York Times for writing and publishing such a story?

Angry with the cheerleaders, who, speaking anonymously, said they felt the team was “pimping” them out with the alleged escort demands?

I suspect if we were taking names, the short list here would be those angry with the team. The list of those fans angry with the reporter and the Times? Probably much longer.

If you are on that list, you are likely wondering what these women expected. After all, they put themselves on display on Sundays for thousands to see at FedEx Field in scantily-clad uniforms.

SEE ALSO: Redskins president Bruce Allen says Cheerleaders ‘directly contradict’ New York Times reporting

And you also may say no one put a gun to their heads. They could have simply refused.

But, as men, it’s tough to truly grasp the vulnerability a woman feels in such a circumstance — the fear, the confusion. To better understand how a young woman, on a trip away from home with her passport confiscated by her employer, might feel, it’s helpful sometimes to imagine a more personal connection.

What if it was your daughter? What if it was your sister?

How would you feel then?

What if it was someone close to you who was put in the situation that one cheerleader anonymously described in the story: “It’s just not right to send cheerleaders out with strange men when some of the girls clearly don’t want to go. But unfortunately, I feel like it won’t change until something terrible happens, like a girl is assaulted in some way, or raped. I think teams will start paying attention to this only when it’s too late.”

Note the plural “teams.” I suspect the Redskins are not the only NFL franchise with stories like these, or worse. Let’s face it, they recruited college basketball players at Louisville with hookers. Too few people in the business of sports ask that question about their sister or daughter or someone close to them.

There may be another group of angry fans — those angry with the team they have pledged their fandom to for consistently embarrassing them, with one misstep after another. Or, as I called it, “the aura of self destruction.”

We are not that far removed from the Scot McCloughan firing fiasco, and still await the results and details of his appeal hearing to get the money the Redskins refused to pay their former general manager, arguing they had cause to fire him.

If you are uncomfortable with anonymous quotes from cheerleaders, let me remind you about this one attributed to an “official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because was not authorized to comment on personnel matters” published in the Washington Post when McCloughan was fired: “He’s had multiple relapses due to alcohol. He showed up in the locker room drunk on multiple occasions. … This has been a disaster for 18 months.”

Team president Bruce Allen, who was recently named in a USA Today poll as the NFL executive sports agents trust the least, issued this statement late Thursday afternoon: “The Redskins organization is very concerned by the allegations involving our cheerleaders in the recent New York Times article. We are immediately looking into this situation and want to express how serious we take these allegations. Based on the dialogue we’ve had with a number of current and former cheerleaders over the past 48 hours, we’ve heard very different first-hand accounts that directly contradict many of the details of the May 2 article. I can promise that once we have completed looking into this matter, if it is revealed that any of our employees acted inappropriately, those employees will face significant repercussions.”

So one final question to ask yourself reviewing the New York Times story as well as the team’s response — what do you think the Washington Redskins are capable of?

Thom Loverro’s “Cigars & Curveballs” podcast is available Wednesdays on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.

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