The Los Angeles Rams currently have the youngest head coach in the NFL, and the team's cheer squad will also leave a historic mark at this year's Super Bowl.
On Feb. 3, Quinton Peron and Napolean Jinnies will make their debuts as the first male cheerleaders ever to perform at the big game. The duo joined at the start of the 2018 season, becoming the league's first male cheerleaders ever.
Cheerleading has been a part of the NFL since 1954, when the then- Baltimore Colts became the first team to add a cheer squad, according to NFL.com. Today, 26 of the 32 NFL teams have official cheerleaders, with Peron and Jinnies being the first men to ever try out for a team.
The two California dancers knew each other from college, but told Fast Company in October that they had no idea they were both trying out to be cheerleaders for the Rams. During auditions last year, Peron says he walked up to Jinnies and told him, "Hey, no matter what happens, we're doing this for us and for the boys."
"From the beginning, we were like, 'We're going to do this together,'" he added.
Keely Fimbres, a former Rams cheerleader who is now cheerleading director for the team, said she was impressed with the guys' tryout performances and told the team owner, Stan Kroenke, that she was thinking about adding them to the team.
"I said, 'We have two gentlemen auditioning for us, and they're doing very well. How do you feel about that?'" she said. In response, she says Kroenke told her that he fully supported the guys if they earned a spot on the roster.
Peron and Jinnies told Fast Company that since they joined the squad, they have received a lot of support from the organization as a whole. Rams' punter Johnny Hekker said "it's great that we have male cheerleaders on the team" and emphasized that it "reflects the Rams' values and appreciation for diversity and inclusion."
The news of male additions to the Rams' cheer squad last March encouraged New Orleans Saints' cheerleader Jesse Hernandez to try out last April. Hernandez says his mom sent him a link about Peron and Jinnies and told him it was his "time to shine," according to CNN.
In a recent interview with Good Morning America, the duo also said they have had several men reach out to them with interest in trying out not just for an NFL cheer team, but also for local high school teams. "It's exciting to see this change a little bit," said Peron.
"We're extremely excited to see what's going to happen next year," said Jinnies.
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