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Tuesday, June 18, 2019
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2 out guys are Patriots’ 1st male cheerleaders in decades

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Steven Sonntag (left) and Driss Dallahi joined the Patriots on March 30

Steven Sonntag and Driss Dallahi are among 14 rookies chosen to cheer for the New England Patriots

Two gay men made the cut and have joined the New England Patriots cheerleading squad, the team announced. Steven Sonntag and Driss Dallahi, the first men on the previously all-female squad in decades, are among 14 rookies selected to pump-up the Gillette Stadium crowd this fall.

Technically speaking, the Patriots have had men on the sidelines before, to motivate fans. But they were dancers and it was the late 1970s.

By the 1980s, “The men’s role transitioned to more stunting/tumbling/cheerleading” by women, said Patriots cheerleader director Tracy Sormanti, in a statement announcing Sonntag and Dallahi. “They were not selected because they were the first men to try out,” she added. “They were selected because they actually had the talent.”

Dallahi and Sonntag told WBTS-TV seeing Los Angeles Rams cheerleaders Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron perform at the Super Bowl inspired them to audition.

“At least in my lifetime,” Dallahi said, “it was the first time I had seen two men do something like that.” Jinnies and Peron are also gay.

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-Opening Night Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Quinton Peron (left) and Napolean Jinnies were the first male cheerleaders to dance at a Super Bowl.

Both Dallahi and Sonntag reached out to Jinnies and Peron via social media, WBTS reported, to ask for advice. The Rams cheerleaders warned them they might hear negative comments from fans in the stands or read them online.

Speaking of which, one fan wrote on the Patriots’ site, “Some traditions are better left alone imho.” Another added this comment to the Patriots Nation Instagram post: “We need receivers and this is what we fucking get.”

”If there are people that aren’t 100 percent on board today,” said Dallahi, “then maybe somewhere down the line, they are, once we actually get out there.”

In addition to the Rams, the New Orleans Saints also have male cheerleaders, and the Baltimore Ravens have had men perform on the sidelines but more as stuntmen than as part of a cheer squad.

Sonntag, 22, said he and Dallahi met at a cheerleading boot camp in March, as the only men to audition.

View this post on Instagram

Boot Camp Day 2 with @bmaxstrong

A post shared by Patriots Cheerleaders (@patriotscheerleaders) on Mar 23, 2019 at 9:40am PDT

“I attended that workshop and walked in and heard there was another boy, and so I was immediately looking around trying to find him,” said Sontag. “We didn’t really know the criteria for male cheerleaders auditioning for the New England Patriots, so we kind of created that together in texting back and forth.” They even went so far as to coordinate what they wore, to complement each other.

Both men made it the final round of try-outs on March 17 at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, and were selected along with 12 women rookies and 20 veteran cheerleaders. They will represent the Patriots as ambassadors to the New England community, as well as cheer on the sidelines beginning in the preseason.

 New England Patriots
The 2019 Patriots Cheerleaders

Dallahi posted a video of his stellar practice routine to social media before the February preliminaries, which he captioned, “Summoning the spirit of Beyoncé in my time of need.”

Dallahi, 23, describes himself on Instagram as a prancer and aerialist and his posts showcase the amazing abilities that won over those who selected the Londonderry, N.H. resident as a cheerleader.

 @driss.dallahi/Instagram
Driss Dallahi posted this selfie on Instagram for National Boyfriend Day, Oct. 3, 2018

“Walking [into tryouts] I knew people were going to look at me,” Dallahi said. “One, because I am over 6 feet tall, and two, because I am a male.” Here’s video of his audition.

Sonntag studied dance at Dean College, where he created the school’s cheer team, and is a member of the Class of 2019. Of this milestone, the Colchester, Vt. native told WBTS: “Two genders on the squad is a big step for any team in the NFL, because that’s not what people are used to seeing sidelines, so I encourage it to progress even more across the NFL board.”

Sonntag proudly posted a selfie to Instagram on his first day of work.

View this post on Instagram

First day vibes

A post shared by Steven Sonntag (@stevennsonntag) on Apr 9, 2019 at 6:18pm PDT

Check out Sonntag’s moves in this video he shared from September 2018.

View this post on Instagram

Final year

A post shared by Steven Sonntag (@stevennsonntag) on Sep 10, 2018 at 6:02pm PDT

Watch how WBTS-TV reported their big achievement below or by clicking here.

https://www.outsports.com/2019/4/14/18309711/patriots-nfl-male-men-cheerleaders-sonntag-dallahi

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