As most who pay any attention to pro cheerleading are well aware, the Jets Fight Crew won their lawsuit against the New York Jets this past week. In all, there were 5 cheerleading squads across the NFL dealing with lawsuits over the past two years. The Raiderettes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders, the Ben-Gals, and now the Flight Crew can now finally move past it all and move forward with the assurances that their members can no longer be deprived of fair compensation.
What does this all mean for the Buffalo Jills, whose lawsuit is still outstanding? It could mean a lot. There are currently 25 teams in the NFL without official cheerleading squads, with unofficial squads working to fill the void with the NY Giants, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, and the Buffalo Bills over the past few years. To anyone who understands the true purpose of pro cheerleaders, public relations, especially with children and the military, not having a squad is embarrassing and detrimental to the NFL's goal of the growth of the game. We also have to take into account what people want and when a film crew was in Buffalo working on a documentary about NFL Cheerleading, most of the response was in favor of bringing back the Jills.
On the other hand, it could mean very little. Unlike the Jills, each of those other squads has been run directly by the organization that runs the NFL team. The Jills were one of a few squads contracted out to outside organizations to run. After the lawsuits became such big news around the league, the San Francisco 49ers did away with that arrangement so as to ensure no outside company could abuse the Gold Rush Cheerleaders in their name like Stejon Productions has been accused of doing with the Jills. There are also a pair of other noteworthy differences between the Jills case and the cases of the other squads. For one, those other lawsuits were primarily about the lack of monetary compensation while the original 5 ladies in the Jills' lawsuit had the primary complaint of abusive treatment in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The biggest difference, however, lies in the defendants of the lawsuits. The other squads sued the teams that ran them and that was it. The Jills lawsuit names 4 separate defendants:The Buffalo Bills; the NFL itself because of Roger Goodell's signature on the contracts that the Jills signed; Citadel Communications, which ran the Jills through the 2011 season (Citadel merged with Cumulus Media in September of 2011): and Stejon Productions, which ran the squad during the 2012 and 2013 seasons and made the unilateral decision to shut down the squad, the only squad shut down during the rash of lawsuits. With 4 defendants, it's not as simple a case as the others.
It's hard to say exactly what the other lawsuits being settled means for the Jills so they only thing we can do is to remain ever-vigilant in the cause to return them to the sidelines and have faith in former Houghton College cheerleader Kim Pegula to do the right thing as owner of the Buffalo Bills and reinstate the Jills as soon as possible after the legal issues involved in the lawsuit and whatever contractual rights Stejon Productions has are resolved.