@drissj.dallahih/Instagram @stevevsonntag/Instagram

The New England Patriots just hired two male cheerleaders to join their squad.

This follows the LA Rams historic decision of hiring male cheerleaders Quinton Peron and Napolean Jinnies in 2018.


Driss Dallahi, 23, and Steven Sonntag, 22, were inspired to audition for the Patriots after seeing Peron and Jinnies perform at the 2019 Superbowl.

The two signed on March 29 ahead of the 2019 NFL season.

It took a leap of faith, but for Sonntag, being an NFL cheerleader became a reality.



Dallahi proves you can never say never.

Dallahi's sense of self-awareness was heightened as he entered into the audition space.

He told NBC Boston:

"Walking (into tryouts), I knew people were going to look at me — one, because I am over 6 feet tall, and two, because I am a male."



Dallahi and Sonntag, both of whom are gay, met each other at the audition.

"I attended that workshop and walked in and heard there was another boy, and so I was immediately looking around trying to find him," said Sonntag.

He didn't know what to expect going in as a male cheerleader since it is a relatively new development in the NFL but he had a conversation about the audition process with Dallahi.

Sonntag continued:

"We didn't really know the criteria for male cheerleaders auditioning for the New England Patriots, so we kind of created that together in texting back and forth.… Two genders on the squad is a big step for any team in the NFL, because that's not what people are used to seeing sidelines, so I encourage it to progress even more across the NFL board."



Dallahi and Sonntag join the growing ranks of trailblazing cheerleaders, including 25-year-old Jesse Hernandez, who also became the first male cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints last year.

The NFL's evolving criteria became a subject of controversy with these professional athletes constantly facing harassment and bullying.

Tracey Hernandez, Jesse's mother, had this to say about people taking issue over her son joining the squad as a male cheerleader.

"Those people just need to get over it. We're in 2018. Things shouldn't be just for men or just for women. If you have the ability to do it, you should be able to do it."




Rams' cheerleading director Keely Fimbres told CNBC about discussing the prospect of hiring Peron and Jinnies with team owner Stan Kroenke.

"I said, 'We have two gentlemen auditioning for us, and they're doing very well. How do you feel about that?'" asked Fimbres.

Kroenke gave his full support in her decision as long as they were qualified, and both hopefuls went on to make NFL history.


Patriots cheerleading director Tracy Sormanti is excited for change but assured Dallahi and Sonntag were not hired just because they were male performers.

She told Pink News:

"They were not selected because they were the first men to try out. They were selected because they actually had the talent."

You can watch Dallahi's dance reel in the YouTube clip, below.


Driss Dallahi - Dance www.youtube.com


Jinnies spoke to Refinery 29 about how he and Peron inspired others to pursue their dreams.

"We have gotten messages from young boys who are telling me that they're going to go for their dance team auditions and be cheerleaders now."
"I have older men who are saying that they were cheerleaders and that they're excited to be living through us."

He continued:

"There are men now going for cheerleading positions on other NFL teams across the country. It's more than just me and Quinton, and we know that."
"Gender should never be the issue: If you have the skill, the nerve, and the drive to do it, you should be allowed to."

Now that is something to really cheer about.

engin akyurt on Unsplash

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