On Thursday, the San Francisco 49ers played against the Oakland Raiders, and a Twitter user named @GatorLenny posted a photo of one of the 49ers cheerleaders kneeling. In fact, multiple people caught a picture, which have now been widely shared on social media and embedded in news articles across the web by reporters who diligently slid into these Twitter users’ mentions and asked for their permission to use the photos. (I did, too; we will update this post if we hear back. Until then, you can click on any of the links above to see a picture of the kneeling cheerleader)
As far as I can tell, none of the news outlets who have reported on the existence of GatorLenny’s photo has been able to identify the cheerleader, which strikes me as odd. I’m not a sports journalist (although I have tried) but surely someone somewhere—maybe someone who covers the NFL or the 49ers— must know at least some of these cheerleaders’ names? Or how to send a press email? (We reached out to the 49ers’ media contacts and will update this post if I hear back.)
There is of course a chance that reporters have already done this and the 49ers or the NFL have chosen not to reveal the cheerleader’s name so far because it would be alienating to the right-wing 49ers fans who hate PC-culture and political demonstrations? I don’t know. In September, it was reported that there likely wouldn’t be a new national anthem policy for the 2018 season, following drawn-out conversations between the NFL and the NFL Players Association about whether players could protest the anthem that ultimately led nowhere. As it stands, NFL players can do whatever they want during the national anthem. Cheerleaders aren’t NFL employees, so it’s impossible to know how exactly that applies to them without knowledge of their contracts.
I asked my colleague Barry Petchesky what he makes of the fact that absolutely frickin’ no one has been able to identify the cheerleader and he said, “Someone somewhere knows, and they’re probably related to that cheerleader.” I guess that would be true. I’m disappointed, frankly. I hope someone cracks this case, and cracks it soon.