Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced his retirement at the end of this NFL season, and now he gets to go to the Super Bowl. Ravens cheerleader Courtney Lenz also announced her retirement. But as for the Super Bowl … the team says fat chance.
Lenz, 23, is a five-year veteran of the cheerleading squad, having cheered and made appearances for the team throughout her college career. Now that she’s finished with school, she got a full-time job and won’t be returning for a sixth season. Courtney claims because of this decision, she was banned from performing at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
Enraged Baltimore fans have launched an online petition and a Facebook page, hoping to convince the team to change their mind. “I wouldn’t even have reached out and let fans know if I didn’t think it was clearly wrong,” Lenz tells ABC News. “I didn’t even think there would be a chance of me not going with being a five-year veteran.”
A spokesman for the squad explains their decision — but, not really — in a statement. “Our selection process was based upon three criteria: seniority, performance ability and personal conduct throughout the season,” says Heather Harness. “As much as we would like to take the whole team, we are unable to do so, due to parameters set by the NFL.”
Debbie Kammerer, the fan who started the petition, says she doesn’t even want to go to the big game now. “She was 57th among the hottest NFL cheerleaders this season,” says Kammerer. “People want to burn their jerseys and don’t want to support the Ravens anymore.”
The petition itself gives a little history into the dispute between Courtney and the team, alleging Lenz was recently benched from the squad for gaining 2 lbs. Though the petition has gained nearly 12,000 signatures at the time of this posting, it looks like this may be a case of too little, too late.
“I received an email on Sunday saying I need to turn in my uniform,” Courtney says. “I can’t say I didn’t expect it, but at the same time, they owe that to me.”