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2 Rams Cheerleaders Will Be The 1st Men In NFL History To Perform At The Super Bowl

Feb 3, 2019
Originally published on February 3, 2019 2:09 pm

On game day the Los Angeles Rams cheerleaders line up on the field holding a power stance — feet firmly planted wide apart and arms jutting straight at their sides, ready to shake their pom poms to cheer and dance for their football team.

But two of the Rams cheerleaders at Sunday's Super Bowl won't be holding any pom-poms, they're men.

Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron are making history tonight as the first male cheerleaders in the history of the National Football League (NFL) to perform at the big game.

In the past, men performing with the cheerleaders at the Super Bowl have been stuntmen, but Jinnies and Peron are the first to dance alongside women and official be a part of the cheer squad.

Male cheerleaders are not new to the sport. At the college and high school level, the sport has long been co-ed. But, this season was the first time that the NFL had male cheerleaders with Peron, Jinnies, and Jesse Hernandez of the New Orleans Saints' cheerleading squad.

Jinnies and Peron are both classically trained dancers who made the squad in March 2018, but both told NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro on Weekend Edition that they found their way to the auditions at the last minute.

Los Angeles Rams Cheerleader Quinton Peron performs during halftime on Sept. 23, 2018.
Harry How / Getty Images

Peron was at a Lakers game on the Wednesday before the auditions, and found himself watching the Lakers cheerleaders.

"I recognized a few of them on the court and I just asked myself why can't I do that?" he asked.

He had already danced with some of the cheerleaders on the court. In fact, he had taught a few of them how to dance. So, Peron decided to call a friend who had been on the Rams cheer squad last year to ask about auditions. He found out they were that upcoming Sunday, so he decided to just show up.

Inside Edition / YouTube

Jinnies path to becoming a cheerleader was also impulsive. He had been working at a dance show at a theme park, and on his lunch break, he ran into some Rams cheerleaders talking about the upcoming audition. They encouraged him to try out, so he did.

"I think it means that anyone can achieve their dreams and make it to a huge stage," he said of his experience.

Both boys were a little nervous with pre-game jitters as they talked with Garcia-Navarro. They were on the bus with the rest of the cheer squad on the way to a fan rally in Atlanta.

"I'm so excited. I just feel like when we run on that field as a team for the first time in that big stadium it's going to be the best feeling ever," Jinnies said.

As male dancers, Peron thinks that the pair brings something unique to the Rams cheerleading squad.

"I think we bring a different energy," he said. "I don't know, it's a dynamic energy and a strength that we all kind of vibe off."

In a show of the squad's camaraderie, Peron turned to his teammates and quickly barked, "Whose house?"

A chorus of cheerleaders responded, "Rams House!"

"Whose house?" Peron roared a second time.

"Rams House!" the chorus got louder.

"Aye!" Peron ended the cheer on a whimsical note.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

History will be made during today's Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the LA Rams. Rams cheerleaders Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies will be the first men in the history of the NFL to perform at the big game. Male cheerleaders aren't new to the sport. But this season was historic for the NFL cheer squads with men dancing alongside women for the first time. We reached out to Quinton and Napoleon on their way to a fan rally in Atlanta. Quinton, hello.

QUINTON PERON: Hey, hey. How's it going?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Really good - and Napoleon, hello.

NAPOLEON JINNIES: Hello.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I got to start with you, Quinton - any pregame jitters?

PERON: Always - I think just as a dancer, any time before you perform, you get those nervous jitters.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. And Napoleon, what about you? How are you feeling?

PERON: We're in the same boat. I'm so excited. I just feel like, when we run onto that field as a team for the first time in that big stadium, it's going to be the best feeling ever.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What does this moment mean for you, Napoleon?

JINNIES: So many things - I think it means that anyone can achieve their dreams and make it to a huge stage. Or even if you don't want to dance, you know, you can still achieve any goals that you put your mind to. So it's a huge thing for all of us.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And Quinton, what about you?

PERON: My message is just to dream your dream and live your truth because you only have one life to live. So if you can - just make sure you live your life for you because nobody else can live it for you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're both classically trained dancers, so I want to know how you got to this dream.

PERON: (Laughter) We actually have two completely different stories - well, kind of.

JINNIES: (Laughter).

PERON: I was actually at a Laker game the Wednesday prior to auditions. And I was watching the Laker Girls. And I recognized a few of them on the court. And I just asked myself, why can't I do that? I've taught a couple of those girls. I've danced with some of them in just the industry, whether that's high school dance teams or college dance teams or commercials and things like that. So I just called my friend Raquel who was on the Rams team last year and asked her when auditions were. And she told me they were this upcoming Sunday, so I showed up.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you?

JINNIES: So I was at lunch break at work. I danced at a show at a theme park. And there was current Rams cheerleaders talking about the upcoming audition very casually. And they told me I should go. And I submitted my email. And I went.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And there you go. What do you think men bring to the sport?

JINNIES: I think we bring a different energy. But it's so funny because a lot of our teammates we've danced with before - I mean, I'm dancing with five girls from high school and people I've known in college and already worked with. So I don't know. It's a dynamic energy and a strength that we all kind of vibe off of.

PERON: That camaraderie almost.

JINNIES: Absolutely.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I got to ask you, since I've got you here, if you can give me a little bit of a preview with a cheer. And I think the whole bus is there, so everyone can join in.

PERON: Oh, yes. You guys, can we do a whose house?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yeah.

PERON: All right. Whose house?

LA RAMS CHEERLEADERS: Rams' house.

PERON: Whose house?

LA RAMS CHEERLEADERS: Rams' house.

PERON: Hey.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) That was awesome. Listen. To you both, I wish you all the best. Congratulations. That was Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies, cheerleaders of the Los Angeles Rams. Enjoy the Super Bowl.

PERON: Thank you. Thank you.

JINNIES: Thank you for having us.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEYONCE'S "RING THE ALARM") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.