“People want to burn their jerseys and don’t want to support the [Baltimore] Ravens anymore,” one commenter said after the Ravens chose not to invite 23-year-old Courtney Lenz to the Super Bowl.
While not everyone is quite as passionate, thousands of people have signed a petition requesting the Ravens revise their roster and bring the five-year cheerleading veteran to the biggest game of the year, claiming she was unfairly punished for a 2-pound weight gain and announcing her plans to retire after the end of the season.
The petition reads:
Courtney announced she was retiring during the last home game at the end of the season which didn’t go well with the director. She was told she didn’t put in as many appearance hours this season as she did the past 4 yrs while in college. This season she earned her B.S. degree and got a full time job… Bad call. They also stated she struggled with weight on occasion & she had been benched for 2 lb weight gain during a game earlier in the fall, which is a absurd, unhealthy and a complete inaccurate measurement of a woman’s “appearance” and size!
Courtney is beautiful & this organization that is supposedly out there to promote self esteem and healthy body image to millions of young girls and women nationwide has done a big injustice to Courtney & we are outraged! She deserves to be out on the field with her teammates, her family. [Emphasis added]
Lenz admits she found it difficult to juggle her recently-acquired marketing job and her cheerleading duties, putting in fewer hours this year than in the past.
However, she also thinks her seniority and past accomplishments– including an award for doing the most charity events in one season and ranking 57th among the hottest 100 cheerleaders– should counterbalance that.
“I wouldn’t even have reached out and let fans know if I didn’t think it was clearly wrong,” Lenz told ABCNews. “I’m just devastated by the whole situation. …They’ve been really hard on me this year since I told them I was leaving,”
But ABC News also got a statement from the NFL and, unfortunately, you’re simply not “entitled” to go to the Super Bowl:
The Ravens say they had to choose a select number of the 60-member squad to cheer at the Super Bowl, and Lenz did not make the cut.
“As set by the NFL, we are permitted to bring 32 cheerleaders to the Super Bowl. Our selection process was based upon three criteria: seniority, performance ability and personal conduct throughout the season. As much as we would like to take the whole team, we are unable to do so, due to parameters set by the NFL,” spokeswoman Heather Harness, said in a statement to ABCNews.com. [Emphasis added]
And even Courtney seems to have accepted the reality of the situation.
“Originally I would have loved to go to the Super Bowl, but at this point it looks like it’s not going to happen,” she concluded. “I received an email on Sunday saying I need to turn in my uniform. I can’t say I didn’t expect it…”