A former Miami Dolphins cheerleader wants a hearing with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after she says she was discriminated against because of her Christianity and virginity. Kristan Ware was a cheerleader with the Dolphins organization for three seasons between 2014 and 2016. The New York Times reports that Ware left the Dolphins in the Spring of 2017.
The Times report says that Ware has filed her complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations on the basis that her work environment was “hostile.” Ware is contesting that her faith was held to a different standards to those of the Dolphins’ players. The former cheerleader argues that players are lauded for their displays of faith on the field, in the locker room and on social media.
The NFL has not yet commented on Ware’s complaint. The Times goes on to report that Ware came in for especially harsh treatment from cheerleading director Dorie Grogan. In one instance, Ware says during a fashion show, where she was modeling in a bikini, Ware was forced to wear angel wings. She took that as a jab against her virginity and Christianity. Ware also says she was mocked after posting photos on social media of her baptism in 2016. Ware’s attorney said that although she is requesting financial damages, she is not “focusing” on it.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ware Says She First Discussed Her Virginity During ‘Girl Talk’ on a Trip to London
In an interview with the Washington Post, Ware explained how the organization found out about her virginity. On a trip to London to play the New York Jets, Ware said that the cheerleaders were having “girl talk” among themselves. They were discussing what songs they like to listen to during sex which is when Ware came forward with her virginity. Ware said that she believed in waiting until marriage, basing her idea on her faith. Ware says that from there, she was subjected to unfair treatment from cheerleading director, Dorie Grogan. Ware said Grogan told her, “As far as we are concerned, you have taken something that was once upon a time pure and beautiful and you’ve made it dirty.”
Ware told the Post, “After being exposed, and having my virginity [cast] in a negative way, I felt so vulnerable. It kind of crushed my spirit to change into a bikini after that comment was made. It took a piece of me.” During a photo shoot, Ware said she felt she was being mocked when Grogan told her to play with some fruit “like they were balls.”
2. Prior to Becoming a Cheerleader, Ware Thought of a Career in the Military
In an interview with the Item, Ware said that after she graduated from the Thomas Sumter Academy in Sumter, South Carolina, she thought about having a career in the Navy or Coast Guard. In part because she grew up in a military family. Though Ware told the website about her career with the Dolphins saying, “I love spreading joy and wanted to get out there in the world and make a difference. It just so happened to be as an NFL cheerleader.” Ware went on, “Growing up in a military home, I’ve seen the sacrifices that service men and women make. I can never find the right words to say to thank them for their service.” Ware also said that she had been able to travel to 30 countries with the Dolphins and has done five military tours.
According to her LinkedIn page, Ware is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where she graduated with a degree in marine science. During her time at USC, Ware went to South Africa to study oceanic life, including sharks and whales. Also during this time, Ware was a beauty queen.
3. Ware Says on Her Website that She Is a ‘Cheerleader for Jesus Christ’
On her official website, where Ware often publishes poetry about her life, Ware writes that she is a “cheerleader for Jesus Chris.” In her bio section, Ware says, “Some may know me as the NFL cheerleader, but I prefer being known as a cheerleader for Jesus Christ. Writing to heal to encourage, to spread God’s love and simply because I talk a lot. I’m no expert, I just want to make a difference. I pray and hope you feel empowered to be you and stay true.” In February 2018, Ware published a poem in support of the MeToo movement.
4. Dorie Grogan Is Listed as ‘Senior Director Entertainment & Brand Impact’ on the Dolphins’ Wesbite
Dorie Grogan is listed as the “Senior Director Entertainment and Brand Impact” on the Dolphins’ cheerleaders website. Prior to joining the Dolphins, Grogan was a cheerleader with the Dallas Cowboys for five seasons. Among her highlights with the Dolphins, Grogan says, “Touring to the Middle East to visit the troops during Thanksgiving of 2001, hosting the Dolphins Game vs. New York Giants trip to London in 2007, coordinating the NFL Owner’s Party and Super Bowl Party in 2010, planning the Veteran’s Day Game each year.”
According to her Facebook page, Grogan is a graduate of the University of North Texas.
5. Ware Is the Second NFL Cheerleader to File a Complaint Recently
Ware is not the first NFL cheerleader to file a complaint on basis of her treatment on the job. In March 2018, Bailey Davis, 22, a former cheerleader with the New Orleans Saints said she was fired after posting a photo of herself wearing lingerie to her personal, private, Instagram page. In an interview with the New York Times, Davis says that she was accused of breaking social media rules that are unique to cheerleaders within the Saints organization. Davis also said that the Saints were looking into allegations that she was at a party with team players. She denies that allegation. Ware told the Washington Post, “If it wasn’t for Bailey speaking out, I would have never been able to find Sara [the lawyer representing Ware]. If it wasn’t for God healing me and using my pain for his purpose, I would have never been courageous enough to tell my story. Right now is the perfect time to tell my story.”
In a separate interview with the Today show, Davis said, “It’s not fair that we’ve worked our whole lives to do this professional job, as well as the players have, and we’re stifled by these rules.” Davis’ story led to another New York Times feature on the sexual harassment that cheerleaders are regularly subjected to at work.