People.com Entertainment Sports Washington Football Team Replaces Cheerleaders with Co-Ed Dance Team The Washington Football Team, which went through a rebrand last year, is making a major change to its cheerleading squad after hiring a new senior advisor By Jason Duaine Hahn Jason Duaine Hahn Website Jason Hahn is a Human Interest and Sports Reporter for PEOPLE. He's worked at PEOPLE's Los Angeles Bureau as a writer and reporter since 2017 and has interviewed the likes of Kobe Bryant, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Brady. He has a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University. He previously worked for Complex Magazine in New York City. People Editorial Guidelines Published on March 4, 2021 04:32 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty The Washington Football Team isn't done making changes after their rebrand last year. On Wednesday, the franchise announced it would be doing away with a traditional cheerleading team and will instead have a coed dance group. The news comes after the franchise hired Petra Pope — an entertainment veteran who's worked with cheerleading teams in the NBA — as a senior advisor. "This is a dream opportunity," Pope said in a press release. "Washington is one of the most historic franchises in the most popular league in the country. We have a chance to fundamentally transform what fans expect from the NFL experience." The football team — which dropped its original name in 2020 after criticism for using a term that is considered a racial slur toward Native Americans — said the new coed group will focus on athleticism, dance and entertainment, and Pope will evaluate everything from clothing to choreography. Washington Football Team Hires the NFL's First Black Team President, Jason Wright Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty "The NBA has long embraced innovative dance and halftime shows, but most NFL teams have remained more oriented towards traditional cheerleading programs," Pope said in the statement. "Fans can expect an experience like none other — a gender-neutral and diverse squad of athletes and dancers whose choreography, costumes, props, tricks and stunts will rival the best entertainment across genres and really inspire and 'wow' our fans," she continued. Washington Football Team Reveals New Helmets Without Former Logo Former NFL player Jason Wright, who became the first Black team president in NFL history when he joined the franchise in August, said Washington is looking to "modernize" as it moves forward with its rebranding efforts. "As we set out to modernize the Washington Football gameday, it's important that we develop a top-notch entertainment program that keeps our fanbase excited and connected to the game and the team," he said. "We believe Petra is the ideal person to lead this charge and bring her extraordinary background to the gridiron." RELATED VIDEO: NFL Star Alex Smith's Leg Brace Transformed into a Lombardi-Style 'Trophy of Triumph' This will be the first time in half-a-century the franchise will not have a cheerleading team. According to ESPN, the contracts of the team's former cheerleaders expire at the end of March, and they are welcome to try-out for the coed dance group, which may consist of 36 members. But some of them posted criticism of the handling of the situation on Twitter, where they claimed they only found out about the change to the team on social media. "It's beyond disrespectful & honestly this all has been a nightmare because of how this was all handled," a member tweeted. The team has been embroiled in controversy in recent years concerning its cheerleading team. Most recently, in August 2020, the Washington Post reported that Washington Football Team's former senior vice president and lead broadcaster Larry Michael allegedly compiled lewd outtakes from cheerleader photoshoots unbeknownst to the cheerleaders themselves. Team owner Dan Snyder said he was unaware of the allegations until the report. (Michael, who is no longer employed by the team, denied the allegations).