‘The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem’ and the Buffalo Jills: What Happened?

June 12, 2019

The Jills perform at a game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in September 2012. (Mark Mulville/News file photo)
The Jills perform at a game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in September 2012.

Maria Pinzone stepped onto a red carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival and posed for a smattering of photographers. Frame it a certain way and this seems glamorous, which can also be said of her former job: NFL cheerleader.

Pinzone was a Buffalo Jill for one year. She spent the 2012 Buffalo Bills season dancing on the sidelines just yards away from muscled, multimillion-dollar, head-smashing football players. Much like a paparazzi-lined red carpet, that can seem glamorous, too.

Pinzone didn’t see it that way. She saw intense work, strong expectations and stringent guidelines, but little pay to compensate for it. She began to question the fairness of holding cheerleaders to the requirements of a job, but not paying them like employees.

Pinzone, with a handful of other former Jills cheerleaders, took her concerns to a lawyer. “Change needed to happen,” Pinzone, 33, told The Buffalo News, “and if I didn’t do it, then who was going to?”
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