Detroit Lions games will look a bit different this fall. For the first time in the modern era, their sideline will feature cheerleaders.
The team announced its decision to add cheerleaders for the upcoming season on Monday and hired Rebecca Girard-Smoker as the director and coach. Girard-Smoker has more than 25 years of experience in casting and talent development in the several sports leagues, per the Lions' website.
"The Ford Family is unwavering in their commitment to improving the Detroit Lions fan experience on and off the field," said Detroit Lions Team President Rod Wood in a statement. "After thorough consideration and receiving input from our fans through season ticket member surveys and focus groups, we believe that this is an opportunity to elevate our game day entertainment."
So, that whittles the list of NFL teams without cheerleaders down to six teams: the Bills, Bears, Browns, Packers, Giants and Steelers, according to ESPN. The Lions had previously been "comfortable" as a member of that group, as previous team president Tom Lewand said in 2014.
The Bills, on the other hand, featured cheerleaders until a 2014 lawsuit, which alleged the Buffalo Jills were being exploited. Cheerleading lawsuits have frequently emerged in the NFL, as cheerleaders for teams like the Raiders and Bengals have also filed lawsuits alleging unfair employment practices.
"We have maintained all along that if we added cheerleaders it would be done the right way and hiring Rebecca is a great first step," Wood said. "Her experience locally and nationally will ensure that Detroit Lions cheerleaders will be great representatives of our team as well as ambassadors to the community."
Tryouts will commence on June 25 at Ford Field and will extend through the weekend. The process will conclude with a five-day training camp in July. By Week 1, the team expects the cheerleading team to be "fully integrated into the game experience."