13 surprising rules NFL cheerleaders must follow

• NFL cheerleaders must follow strict rules to keep their jobs, according to a report from The New York Times.

• Some teams require cheerleaders to maintain a strict body weight, cover up tattoos and body piercings, and forego wearing sweatpants in public.

• One New Orleans Saints cheerleader was even sacked over an Instagram post, The New York Times reported, prompting a discrimination case.



NFL cheerleaders must adhere to a number of intense rules if they want to keep their jobs, according to a recent report from The New York Times.

These directives don't just pertain to cheerleaders' workplace conduct, either. The mandates dictate how cheerleaders can behave when they're off the clock, too.

Specific guidelines vary from team to team, but it's not the first time the treatment of NFL cheerleaders has been the subject of a controversy.

Some cheerleaders reportedly earned less than $1,000 a year in 2016, according to USA Today, and Time reports multiple lawsuits have been filed that allege that teams paid below the minimum wage. And now some are arguing are that the rules are sexist and that the NFL cheerleaders in general are exploited. A former New Orleans Saints cheerleader, who was fired after she posted a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit on Instagram, has even filed a discrimination case against the team, The New York Times reported.

Here's a look at some of the rules many NFL cheerleaders must abide by:

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Strict rules NFL cheerleaders must follow
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Strict rules NFL cheerleaders must follow

The New York Times reported that some NFL cheerleaders must buy their own uniforms. Others, like the cheerleaders for the Seattle Sea Hawks, are given uniforms but must pay for any maintenance or mending.

 Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Source: The New York TimesCBS

Carolina Panthers cheerleaders must show up for work five hours before kickoff.

(Photo by Michael Berg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Source: The New York Times

Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders reportedly must be "within three pounds of their 'ideal weight'" in recent years, according to The Times.

 (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Source: The New York TimesDeadspin

Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders also must go through regular weigh-ins. A former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader told Deadspin that "failure to comply with body weight and/or appearance guidelines could result in suspension from the team or game day suspensions."

REUTERS/Larry Downing 

Source: The New York TimesDeadspin

Carolina Panthers cheerleaders can't take water breaks unless the team is on offense, The Times reports.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Source: The New York Times

Carolina Panthers cheerleaders also can't change into their street clothes until they leave the stadium, The Times reports.

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Source: The New York Times

Oakland Raiders cheerleaders are slapped with fines if they show up with the wrong pompoms, fail to polish their boots, or forget part of their uniform on game day, according to The Times.

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Source: The New York Times

According to The Times, cheerleaders for the Baltimore Ravens can't pose nude or semi-nude, work as exotic dancers, or be in any "tasteless films, photos, or bikini/swimwear contest." 

(Ulysses Munoz/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)

Source: The New York Times

Carolina Panthers cheerleaders must cover up visible tattoos or body piercings, The Times reports.

(Photo by Jim Dedmon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Source: The New York Times

San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders reportedly cannot tell people that they are affiliated with the team.

(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Source: The New York Times

The Times reports that, according to several NFL cheerleader handbooks, "wearing sweatpants in public is forbidden" on some teams.

 (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Source: The New York Times

Cheerleaders are also banned from posting "pictures of themselves in uniform," The Times reports.

 (Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

Source: The New York Times

NFL cheerleaders are barred from associating with the football players themselves — that means no autographs or social media follows, according to The Times.

 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Source: The New York Times

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