Football wouldn’t be complete if it weren’t for the cheerleaders rooting their respective teams on throughout the game, but NFL cheerleaders are the best of the best. They bring joy to the game, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t competitive. In fact, they’re just as competitive as the players!
The idea of cheering for an American football team originated in the 1880s at Princeton University. Just a decade prior to that, the first intercollegiate football game took place. From there, cheerleading became a common practice for high schools, colleges, and pro teams.
The first NFL cheerleaders were formed in 1954 when the Baltimore Colts decided to create the first ever NFL cheerleading squad – though they were a part of the team’s marching band at the time. Over the past 70 years, cheerleading has grown in popularity and is a big part of the game.
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Which Teams Have the Most Popular NFL Cheerleaders?
Let’s be honest, football wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for NFL cheerleaders – not just on the field, but off the field. NFL cheerleaders do much more than just root for their team on gameday. In fact, they have a ton of media responsibilities and are always giving back to the community.
The most popular NFL cheerleaders become local celebrities and usually go on to have successful careers in life after cheerleading. It takes a lot of dedication, commitment, passion, talent, and skill to be an NFL cheerleader and that’s why teams are so selective with their talent.
With that said, not every team has a cheerleading squad. In the NFL today, 24 of the 32 teams have a cheerleading squad and while the other seven might’ve had one in the past, they have since been disbanded. Let’s go ahead and rank the 24 teams that have NFL cheerleaders!
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
Known as the Jacksonville ROAR – and previously, Roar of the Jaguars – the Jaguars’ cheerleading squad currently consists of 32 NFL cheerleaders. The squad was originally formed in 1995, the same year the Jaguars joined the NFL. The squad produces a yearly swimsuit calendar and performs at all home games in TIAA Bank Field.
23. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions’ Cheerleaders are a group of 30 female cheerleaders that represent the Detroit Lions. The squad was originally formed in 1963, but disbanded in 1974. In 2016, the organization decided to add an official cheerleading squad for the first time in 42 years. The current captains are Holly, Alexandria, Brittany, and Jenna.
22. Cincinnati Bengals
Known as the Cincinnati Ben-Gals, the Bengals’ cheerleading squad currently consists of 30 female cheerleaders. The squad was established in 1968 when the Bengals were part of the American Football League. They also have a Junior Ben-Gals squad consisting of cheerleaders 5-18 years old.
21. Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens’ Cheerleaders are one of the largest cheerleading squads in the NFL. It currently consists of 33 female cheerleaders and 19 male stunt performers. The squad is directed by former Olympic cheerleader Tina Galdieri. The team also has a promotional squad called the Baltimore Ravens’ Playmakers.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Cheerleaders are a group of 27 coed cheerleaders – the squad currently consists of 22 females and five males. They made their debut in 1978 during the team’s inaugural season in the NFL. The squad was formerly known as the SquashBucklers, but that name hasn’t been used since 1999.
19. Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams’ Cheerleaders are a group of 32 coed cheerleaders – the team currently consists of 28 females and 4 males. As of 2020, there were nine rookie cheerleaders added to the squad. They were established in 1974 and were originally known as the Embraceable Ewes, but that name was last used in 1994.
18. Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings’ Cheerleaders are a group of 25 female cheerleaders that represent the Vikings’ organization. The squad also hosts a Junior Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders team with different age groups. The original squad was formed in 1984 after decades of allowing local high schools to perform at all home games.
17. San Francisco 49ers
Known as the Gold Rush, the San Francisco 49ers’ cheerleading squad runs 32 deep – all of them females. Previously known as The Niner Nuggets, the 49ers’ cheerleading squad dates back over 40 years and used to be revered as the only singing cheerleading squad. While that’s no longer true, they’re still very popular among cheerleaders today.
16. Seattle Seahawks
Known as the Seahawks Dancers, the Seattle Seahawks’ cheerleading squad currently consists of 25 coed cheerleaders and dancers – five males and 20 females. They used to be known as the Sea Gals and were originally established in 1976, but they were rebranded in 2019 to fall in line with the evolution of the sport.
15. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals’ Cheerleaders are a group of 27 female cheerleaders that represent the Arizona Cardinals’ organization. Up until 1990, the cheerleading squad was owned and operated by an outside company. They were formerly known as the Phoenix Cardinals Cheerleaders, but changed the name when the team changed theirs to Arizona Cardinals.
14. Carolina Panthers
Known as the TopCats, the Carolina Panthers’ cheerleading squad currently consists of 30 NFL cheerleaders – three of which are male and 27 of which are female. In 2021, the squad welcomed the first three male members to ever join the TopCats – Melvin Sutton, Chris Crawford and Tre’ Booker.
13. New Orleans Saints
Known as the Saints Cheer Krewe, the New Orleans Saints’ cheerleading squad consists of 47 cheerleaders – 11 of which are male and 36 of which are female. They’re one of the largest cheerleading squads in the NFL. Prior to 2021, the squad was known as the Saintsations. Despite being a popular name, the team changed it ahead of the 2021 season.
12. Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans’ Cheerleaders are a group of 28 coed cheerleaders – the squad currently consists of nine male cheerleaders and 19 female cheerleaders. They were originally established in 1975 and were known as the Derrick Dolls, but changed their name when the team relocated to Tennessee.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Cheerleaders are a group of 34 coed cheerleaders – the squad currently consists of 33 females and one male. The squad was one of the first to utilize male cheerleaders, has a 25-member Chiefs Rumble squad that acts as a drumline, and has five flag runners.
10. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons’ Cheerleaders are one of the larger cheerleading squads in the NFL with 42 current members – three of which are male and 39 of which are female. The 2021-22 captains are Priscilla W., Shanise L., Krista R., Brianna B., and Jenna M.. They made their debut in 1969 and were called ‘The Falconettes’ at the time.
9. New York Jets
Known as the Jets’ Flight Crew, the New York Jets’ cheerleading squad currently consists of 24 female cheerleaders. They were originally known as the Jets Flag Crew when they were formed in 2006, but were quickly rebranded to the Flight Crew in 2007. They have 11 rookie cheerleaders during the 2021-22 season.
8. Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos’ Cheerleaders are a group of 26 female cheerleaders that represent the Denver Broncos’ organization. Up until 1985, the group was known by several names – including the Bronkettes, Bronco Belles, and Pony Express. After a seven-year hiatus, the team brought the squad back in 1993 as the Denver Broncos’ Cheerleaders.
7. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins’ Cheerleaders are a group of 24 female cheerleaders that represent the Miami Dolphins’ organization. Between 1978 and 1983, the squad was known as the Dolphins Starbrites and Dolphins Dolls. They’ve had a number of notable cheerleaders wear the teal and orange through the years.
6. Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiderettes are a group of 30 female cheerleaders that represent the Las Vegas Raiders’ organization. They’ve held the ‘Raiderettes’ name since 1961 when the team was located in Oakland – and even when they relocated to Los Angeles. The current coach is Mandy Voecks and they’ve had numerous notable cheerleaders through the years.
5. New England Patriots
The New England Patriots’ Cheerleaders are a group of 33 coed cheerleaders that represent the New England Patriots’ organization. The squad consists of 30 female cheerleaders and three male cheerleaders. They were originally established in 1971 and once traveled to China to help train dancers for the upcoming Olympics.
4. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans’ Cheerleaders are a group of 30 female cheerleaders that represent the Houston Texans’ organization. They were originally formed in 2002 during the team’s inaugural season in the NFL. Lauri Flynn, wife of Matt Schaub, is a former Texans’ cheerleader. Schaub was the team’s quarterback between 2007 and 2013.
3. Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts’ Cheerleaders are a group of 26 female cheerleaders that represent the Indianapolis Colts’ organization. The team was originally established in 1954 and was the first NFL cheerleading squad ever. The squad’s annual Audition Showcase takes place at Decatur Central High School.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles’ Cheerleaders are a group of 31 coed cheerleaders that represent the Philadelphia Eagles’ organization. They debuted in 1948 as the Eaglettes, but weren’t an official cheerleading squad at the time. They were also known as the Liberty Belles in the 1970s before settling on their current generic name.
1. Dallas Cowboys
When you think of NFL cheerleaders, the Dallas Cowboys are the first team to come to mind. They revolutionized how NFL cheerleaders looked, acted, and presented themselves. Currently, the Dallas Cowboys’ Cheerleaders consist of 36 female cheerleaders. They’re the most popular due to their reality show, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.
Which Teams Don’t Have NFL Cheerleaders?
When you flip on an NFL game, the chances of seeing NFL cheerleaders on the screen within the next five minutes is highly likely. The cameras cut to them just about every commercial break and even in-between plays. If you like football, then you have to like cheerleaders.
With that said, there are currently seven NFL teams that don’t have a cheerleading squad in 2022. Those seven teams are the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, and Los Angeles Chargers.
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That’s not to say those teams won’t welcome a cheerleading squad at some point in the future. In fact, they each had a squad at one point, but was disbanded for a variety of different reasons. With the way NFL cheerleaders are evolving in their community, expect to see more in the near future.
Seattle Kraken Introduce First Ever Team Mascot; Here Are 20 of the Best Mascots in Professional Sports History
On October 1st, the Seattle Kraken introduced their first ever team mascot, named ‘Buoy,’ to a roaring home crowd – but is he one of the best mascots in sports? It’s too early to give him that title and he’ll have to prove himself over the course of the season, but he certainly is a riot!
Buoy, pronounced ‘boo-ee,’ is a six-foot tall sea troll that sports a ‘hockey-fashion flow-style’ haircut. Those that are fond of the Seattle area will see the resemblance between Buoy and the Fremont Troll – a famous landmark sculpture under the George Washington Memorial Bridge.
“We are proud to introduce Buoy and mark another milestone moment for the Kraken,” said the team’s marketing officer, Katie Townsend. “We are rooted in the local community and everything we do is inspired by the wonderful place we live. Buoy is a big fan of the Seattle music scene.”
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Who Are the Best Mascots in Professional Sports History?
To some people, mascots are nothing more than a human wearing a gigantic costume at a sport’s game. To others, mascots are the heartbeat of any franchise and act as the liaison – the conduit – between the team and its fans. They’re not only at home games, but also events.
Players, coaches, front office members – all these people come and go. What makes a mascot so special is that they’re in it for the long haul – with a few exceptions, of course. They’re shared by generations of die-hard fans, putting smiles on everyone’s faces – even in the face of defeat.
While a strong majority of teams across the MLB, NHL, NFL, and NBA have a mascot, there are a few that don’t. In fact, there are 14 teams total without one – five in the NFL, four in the NBA, four in the MLB, and one in the NHL. Still, that leaves us with nearly 120 teams with mascots.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the 20 most popular in the NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLB today!
20. Hugo the Hornet – Charlotte Hornets
Hugo the Hornet is the official mascot of the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA. He made his debut with the team in 1988 and stayed the team’s mascot when the franchise moved to New Orleans. When New Orleans became the Pelicans, Hugo the Hornet was replaced by Pierre the Pelican.
Hugo eventually made his return during the 2014-15 season when the Charlotte Bobcats changed their name back to the Charlotte Hornets. He was originally designed by Cheryl Henson and, coincidentally, wasn’t named after Hurricane Hugo – which made landfall in 1989.
19. ThunderBug – Tampa Bay Lightning
ThunderBug is the official mascot of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL. He enjoys launching shirts into the stands and wears No. 00 on his jersey. There isn’t a whole lot of information on his beginning and how he came about, but fans seem to love him and that’s all that matters.
In 2012, there was an incident where ThunderBug sprayed a bunch of silly string on a fan of the opposing team. The fan didn’t enjoy it and pushed ThunderBug – ultimately leading to the performer being fired. Nonetheless, they were replaced and ThunderBug has changed his ways.
18. Dinger – Colorado Rockies
Dinger is the official mascot of the Colorado Rockies in the MLB. For a baseball team, I’d say Dinger is the perfect name for a mascot – after all, that’s what you want your team to do is hit dingers! He’s described as an ‘anthropomorphic purple triceratops’ that wears a No. 00 jersey.
The history behind Dinger is actually pretty cool. During the construction of Coors Field – where the Rockies play – several dinosaur fossils were found, including a seven-foot skull of a triceratops. Dinger made his debut with the team in 1995, once the stadium officially opened.
17. Iceburgh – Pittsburgh Penguins
Iceburgh is the official mascot of the PIttsburgh Penguins in the NHL. He’s a fun-loving penguin that debuted with the team during the 1991-92 season – he wears a No. 00 jersey and loves to spend time with his favorite people, the fans. His name is a play on ‘Pittsburgh’ and ‘iceberg.’
Iceburgh is nearly identical to the mascot for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their mascot is named Tux and the only difference is the color of their gloves and necks – Iceburgh wears black gloves and has an orange neck.
16. Blue – Indianapolis Colts
Blue is the official mascot of the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL. He made his debut with the team in their 2006 home opener against the Houston Texans – yes, the Colts won that game, 43-24. In fact, the Colts went on to win the Super Bowl that year – making Blue a good luck charm.
The anthropomorphic blue horse is a beloved part of the Colts’ culture. He won Mascot of the Year in 2016, the inaugural year of the award. He won it again in 2019 and even won Skit of the Year three times in a row between 2017 and 2019. He’s a member of the Mascot Hall of Fame.
15. Blooper – Atlanta Braves
Blooper is the official mascot of the Atlanta Braves in the MLB. He made his debut with the team at the Braves’ fan fest on January 27, 2018 – ‘Homer the Brave’ was the mascot before Blooper, but Homer retired. It took Blooper a few years to win over the fans, but he eventually did so.
The Braves winning the 2021 World Series went a long way in gaining the fan’s trust – who now view him as a lucky charm. He’s always dressing up as famous characters, such as Bob Ross and Guy Fieri, and always pulls funny skits – including pretending to steal a player’s contract.
14. Stuff the Magic Dragon – Orlando Magic
Stuff the Magic Dragon is the official mascot of the Orlando Magic in the NBA. The green and pink dragon was introduced to fans in 1989 on Church Street. According to the team, he spends most of his day in the Dragon’s Lair in Amway Center and likes to play in Stuff’s Magic Castle.
His name is inspired by the ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’ song by Peter, Paul and Mary. They gave the name a basketball feel to it by changing ‘Puff’ to ‘Stuff’ – a stuff is a slang term in basketball, meaning a block. He enjoys tossing shirts into the crowd and interacting with all the fans.
13. K.C. Wolf – Kansas City Chiefs
K.C. Wolf is the official mascot of the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. He debuted with the team in 1989 after they retired their former mascot – who was dressed in a full Indian chief headdress. The team named him K.C. Wolf after their ‘Wolfpack’ fan section at home games.
Believe it or not, K.C. Wolf was the first NFL mascot to be inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame. He’s portrayed by Dan Meers – who has tackled a fan who ran out on the field on two separate occasions. He first did it during the 2001 Pro Bowl and again in the 2007 regular season.
12. Wildwing – Anaheim Ducks
Wildwing is the official mascot of the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL. He’s a duck with a hockey mask on, which fits the team’s image perfectly. Many people might recognize him from the animated series called Mighty Ducks – where he had a younger brother named NoseDive.
In spectacular fashion, Wildwing became the first ever mascot in the NHL to drop down onto the ice from the rafters – safely, of course. He’s known to push the boundaries and is always looking for new ways to stun the crowd – after all, isn’t that what pro mascots are expected to do?
11. Wally the Green Monster – Boston Red Sox
Wally the Green Monster is the official mascot of the Boston Red Sox in the MLB – you might recognize the name because it was inspired by the Green Monster, the 37-foot wall in left field at Fenway Park. He was introduced to the fans in 1997 and has been with the team ever since.
Wally is involved in one of the biggest mascot rivalries in baseball with the Tampa Bay Rays’ mascot, Raymond. They’re constantly pulling pranks on each other, which makes home games fun for both teams. Jerry Remy, the Red Sox broadcaster, has a good relationship with Wally.
10. Racing Sausages – Milwaukee Brewers
Alright, the Racing Sausages aren’t the official mascot(s) of the Milwaukee Brewers – that title belongs to Bernie Brewer, who is pretty sweet in his own right. Still, the Racing Sausages are one of the best things about Brewers’ home games and are one of the biggest attractions.
In the middle of the sixth inning, five mascots in sausage costumes – a hot dog, chorizo, bratwurst, kielbasa, and Italian sausage – race down the warning track and run towards the finish line, which is located around first base. The race originally began in the 1990s.
9. Sabretooth – Buffalo Sabres
Sabretooth is the official mascot of the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL. He’s a seven-foot tall, 242-pound sabretooth tiger, so you better hope you’re on his good side. In fact, he’s one of the most fierce-looking and physically-imposing mascots in the NHL, but he sure loves his fans.
With that said, the entire NHL seems to agree that he’s one of the best in the league. In an NHL-wide poll last year, he ranked second in voting among all other mascots. He’s quick to chat with fans at home games, makes a LOT of public appearances, and loves to take selfies!
8. Go The Gorilla – Phoenix Suns
Go The Gorilla is the official mascot of the Phoenix Suns in the NBA. His journey to the team is a bit unconventional, but that’s why we love him. In 1980, a fan sent a singing telegram to the arena in a gorilla costume. Fans took a liking to him and he started coming to more games.
The Suns eventually invited him to be the team’s official mascot and he has stuck with them ever since. He’s known for his explosive dunks before the fourth quarter and knows how to make the arena laugh with his jokes, pranks, and humor. He definitely puts on a good show.
7. The Raptor – Toronto Raptors
The Raptor is the official mascot of the Toronto Raptors in the NBA. He’s the second dinosaur featured on this list – Dinger being the other. The only difference is The Raptor is a red velociraptor. He wears No. 95, which is indicative of the franchise’s inaugural year in 1995.
His introduction to the fanbase was electric. At the start of the team’s first ever home game in 1995, there was a giant egg laying on the court. Moments later, it hatched and The Raptor appeared in front of the crowd for the first time. He’s known as one of the best in the NBA.
6. Jaxson De Ville – Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaxson De Ville is the official mascot of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL – one of the league’s newest franchises. The anthropomorphic jaguar is yellow with teal patches and wears a Jaguars’ jersey with the No. 00 on the back. His name celebrates his home city, Jacksonville.
Sometimes shortened to Jax, he’s known for his electric and creative entrances into the stadium – including ziplines, bunjees, and more. He loves to drive around the stadium in a golf cart or motorized scooter. In the late-1990s, he got into some trouble for being a bit too wild at games.
5. Mr. Met – New York Mets
Mr. Met is the official mascot of the New York Mets in the MLB. He’s one of the oldest mascots on this list, first debuting with the team in 1964 – though he originally appeared as a cartoon in the team’s program the year prior to his real-life arrival. He receives a lot of media attention.
Mr. Met has a human body, but a large baseball for a head. Some historians believe he was the first ever real-life mascot in the major leagues. You might recognize him from his several ESPN commercial appearances. Known as one of the best, he was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame.
4. Burnie – Miami Heat
Burnie is the official mascot of the Miami Heat in the NBA. He’s an anthropomorphic ball of flame – similar to the team’s logo of a flaming basketball going through a hoop. He has a green basketball for a nose and has an orange, flamed head of hair. He wears the No. 0 jersey.
Burnie has been involved in multiple lawsuits through the years – including one where he dragged a fan from her seat to the court and started dancing with her. She wasn’t down for the fun and ended up receiving $50,000 in damages. Don’t worry, he has settled down ever since.
3. Benny the Bull – Chicago Bulls
Benny the Bull is one of the most popular mascots in the realm of sports and certainly the most coveted mascot in the entire NBA. He’s the official mascot of the Chicago Bulls and is a red anthropomorphic bull with orange hair and a black unibrow. He debuted with the team in 1969.
No one pumps up a crowd like Benny the Bull. His dancing is elite, his charisma is spectacular, and his energy is unlike any other mascot in sports. He will blow you away with his stunts, showing no fear in any situation he’s put in. That’s what you get from the NBA’s first ever mascot.
2. Phillie Phanatic – Philadelphia Phillies
Phillie Phanatic is the official mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies in the MLB. Perhaps no mascot is more recognizable and beloved than Phillie – debuting with the team in 1978 and sticking with the fanbase ever since. Where most mascots wear a number on their back, Phillie wears a star.
The mascot is described as a green anthropomorphic flightless bird. He’s furry, he’s got a big, cuddly tummy, and he’s one of the friendliest giants you’ll ever meet – so long as you root for the Phillies. He loves riding around on his ATV and is always quick to taunt the opposing team.
1. Gritty – Philadelphia Flyers
Gritty – no, not the dance move – is the official mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL. He’s one of the newest mascots in the NHL, first being introduced to the fanbase on September 24, 2018. Before his arrival, the Flyers were one of two NHL teams without a team mascot.
No one really knows what he is, but he’s basically a big, furry, orange creature with giant googly eyes. He stands seven feet tall and has a similar appearance as Phillie Phanatic – other than the color difference. He has already captured the world by storm and receives a lot of attention.
Who Are the Best Mascots in College Sports?
In the sports world today, it’s almost wrong to own a team without a mascot – even the 14 NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB teams that don’t have a mascot, should have one. With that said, it’s not just a thing in professional sports – in fact, mascots are even more popular in college sports.
Some of the best mascots in college include Sparty (Michigan State), Brutus Buckeye (Ohio State), The Oregon Duck (Oregon), Leprechaun (Notre Dame), UGA (Georgia) Bucky Badger (Wisconsin), Butler Blue (Butler), Mountaineer (West Virginia), and Raider Red (Texas Tech).
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No matter what school or team you’re talking about, the mascot is supposed to represent the city, the fanbase, and everything it stands for. The best mascots in sports history are the ones that give the fans something to cheer for and smile about, even when your team is losing.
- 1 Seattle Kraken Introduce First Ever Team Mascot; Here Are 20 of the Best Mascots in Professional Sports History
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