Ex-Washington Football Team cheerleader amid NFL scandals: 'We feel invisible'
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A former Washington Football Team employee said that the team's cheerleaders feel "invisible" after the scandal involving former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s emails has once again brought focus back on a scandal involving a former general manager and topless cheerleaders.

Melanie Coburn, a former cheerleader and the squad's marketing director from 2001-2011, wrote an op-ed for USA Today that the lack of a public report on the investigation into the Washington Football Team after accusations of sexual misconduct has made her and others feel "deflated" and "marginalized." She also mentioned that the league previously published a public report following a controversy stemming from equipment manipulation.

"We feel invisible. Deflated. Marginalized. Diminished. I gave 14 years of my life to the WFT, and I couldn’t even get a written report. Did you know the Wells Report was 243 pages? Two hundred and forty-three pages for deflated balls, but we have sexual harassment, assault, abuse over decades, and no written report? We've asked the NFL to meet and discuss the findings of the investigation and they have not agreed," Coburn wrote.


The investigation into the Washington Football Team has been brought back to the public eye following the leak of emails uncovered in the probe from then-ESPN commentator Jon Gruden to then-Washington Football Team General Manager Bruce Allen. Some of these emails reportedly included topless photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington cheerleaders, according a New York Times report released on Monday.

It was widely reported that former team executive Dennis Greene resigned in 2018 after selling access to a topless Washington Football Team cheerleader photoshoot as part of a suite package. 

The Washington Post also reported on another incident involving a swimsuit photoshoot that included nudity and vulgar edits in 2020. 

Coburn also spoke about the nondisclosure agreements many of the women who sued over the video signed with the team.

"I have been very vocal since the second Washington Post exposé in August 2020. Although I get anxious about public speaking, I chose to put myself out there to be the voice of the women I love, admire and once managed at the WFT. Since these videos came to light, over 40 alumni came together to fight back (some of whom mediated a settlement, which they deserve to have). However, the money came with more of [owner Dan] Snyder’s favorite things – nondisclosure agreements. They were silenced. I could not remain silent anymore and chose to speak out on their behalf," she wrote on Thursday.

The NFL fined the Washington Football Team $10 million earlier this year after an independent investigation found the organization’s workplace “highly unprofessional," particularly for women.

Many advocates, however, have said that penalty is not enough, The Associated Press reported in July.

“It’s despicable, really, to see that there is more evidence of exploitation and violation of these cheerleaders who I worked very closely with,” Coburn told The Daily Beast.