The Instagram Photo That Got NFL Cheerleader Bailey Davis Fired (And 4 Absurd Rules Cheerleaders Have To Follow That Players Don't)

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Who Is Bailey Davis? The Instagram Photo That Got The Saints Cheerleader Fired And 4 Strange Rules For NFL Cheerleaders
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The rules are super victim-blamey.

In January 2018, NFL cheerleader Bailey Davis posted a photo to Instagram as most people in 2018 are wont to do. Soon after, the New Orleans Saints fired her.

According to the New York Times, the Saints accused Davis of breaking a long-standing rule that cheerleaders cannot pose in lingerie, as well as for allegedly partying with Saints football players (which Davis denies doing). In response, Davis filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the Saints of having double standards for its female (cheerleaders) and male (football players) employees.

Davis told Cosmopolitan that the photo in question was taken for her portfolio. “It was a full-body shot because I wanted to show off my physique, my athleticism. I liked that you could see a little bit of bicep,” she said. “As far as baring skin, it wasn’t any different from our Saintsation uniforms.”

Davis’ termination has cast a light onto the rigid rules for NFL cheerleaders, specifically how they “reflect outdated views of women” as Davis asserts in her complaint. She told Cosmo that the NFL told her the rules are in place to “protect” the cheerleaders from “predators.” As Sara Blackwell, Davis’s lawyer, told the NYT, “The antiquated stereotype of women needing to hide for their own protection is not permitted in America and certainly not in the workplace.”


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Not only do NFL cheerleaders have to follow guidelines for things like beauty and fitness routines, but they’re also subject to multiple other rules that players are free from. While rules for NFL cheerleaders vary from team to team, here are a few that really stand out.

1. They can’t interact with the players

Davis told Cosmo that the first reason she was called in to see human resources was because someone had seen a “blonde girl from Mississippi” at a party with Saints players. Despite having little to no evidence that this blonde girl was actually Davis, she received a warning.

According to the NYT, “Cheerleaders are told not to dine in the same restaurant as players, or speak to them in any detail. If a Saints cheerleader enters a restaurant and a player is already there, she must leave.” Davis also added that if she was already eating at a restaurant and a player entered after her, she would have to be the one to leave.

Furthermore, “If a player spoke to me in person, I could only use two phrases: ‘hello’ or ‘good game,’ Davis revealed to Cosmo. However, it seems there are no rules prohibiting the players from doing the like. “If the cheerleaders can’t contact the players, then the players shouldn’t be able to contact the cheerleaders,” Blackwell told the NYT.


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2. They have to make their Instagram private

According to Davis, the Saints required their cheerleaders to make their Instagram pages private after learning that players would occasionally message them. According to the NYT, cheerleaders are expected to block NFL players — even though “players have no limits on who can follow them.”

“We couldn’t follow them on Instagram, or like their pictures,” Davis told Cosmo. “If an official photo from the Saints account was a photo of a player alone, we couldn’t ‘like’ the photo. If they tried to follow me on Instagram or liked my photos, I was to block them and report it to HR.”

3. They have to buy calendars and sell them to fans to make their money back

Davis explained to the NYT that before home games, cheerleaders were given 20 calendars that they had to sell to fans in the stadium parking lot. If they couldn’t sell all 20, they’d have to go into the stands to try to get rid of whatever amount they had left. “You walk by a guy and you’re afraid you’re going to get touched,” Davis said. “Who would throw professional cheerleaders, walking around with cash, out with drunk fans?”

The Saints weren’t the only team with this bizarre rule. According to the NYT, the Buffalo Bills used to force cheerleaders to sell 50 calendars a season, which they would buy in advance for $10 a piece and sell for $15, keeping the profit (if any).

4. They can’t post photos of themselves in uniform

The NYT reports that Oakland Raiders cheerleaders can’t post photos of themselves in uniform. Likewise, the San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders’ 2016 rulebook prohibits them from disclosing their affiliation with the team. Yet a quick look at football players’ Instagram pages will show that photos of them in uniform are a regular occurrence.

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Micki Spollen is a YourTango editor, writer, and traveler. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her travels on her website.

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