By BILLY JOE JESSUP
My late-night reading on Sunday included a New York Times story about a fired New Orleans Saints cheerleader fighting her former team.
The headline: How an Instagram Post Led to an N.F.L. Cheerleader’s Discrimination Case.
And the lede: “Bailey Davis was a New Orleans Saints cheerleader until she posted a picture of herself in a skimpy outfit. She and her lawyers say the firing violated employment laws.”
Davis, a Saintsation from 2015 to 2017, has filed a gender discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The story caught my attention because I’m a Saints fan who lives in South Mississippi and Davis, 22, is from Hattiesburg, about 60 miles up the road from my hometown of Gulfport.
What also caught my attention is that my local newspaper picked up the Times story and ran it on its website and Facebook page, though the words above its Facebook post are erroneous: “A photo to Facebook landed this Saintsation in hot water.”
I don’t think Davis’ photo wasn’t posted to Facebook.
There’s more. The local paper’s headline is misleading: Mississippi cheerleader is fighting back after Saints fire her over nudity rule.
People who have yet to read the story might assume Davis posted a photo in which she was nude.
The second and third grafs of the Times story clear things up.
Like a lot of people in their 20s, Bailey Davis has an Instagram account. And as a cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints, Davis said she followed team rules and made the page private so only people she approved could see what she posted.
But when she posted a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit in January, Saints officials accused her, despite her protests, of breaking rules that prohibit cheerleaders from appearing nude, seminude or in lingerie. For this indiscretion, and amid an inquiry about her attending a party with Saints players – another regulation that she denies violating – Davis was fired after what she said were three largely trouble-free seasons.
The key words I take from those grafs: Instagram, private, one-piece outfit.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote its own story citing the Times. The Picayune, unlike the Times, reported that Davis “posted a photo of herself in a one-piece bathing suit.”
If so, a reader came up with a perfect comment at nola.com, the newspaper’s website:
Sooo she got fired for a PERSONAL picture of her in a bathing suit. But the Saints put up a calendar of the Saintsations in a swimsuit every year. Got it.
The New Orleans cheerleaders, known as the Saintsations since 1987, have a number of rules to follow, such as the one banning nudity, seminudity and lingerie.
The Saints players must follow their own rules but they are different, which makes me wonder:
Are there swimsuit photos of Zach Strief, the newly retired Saints offensive tackle?
If so, please keep them to yourself.
And if you want to see photos of Davis, you can go to her public Instagram or find other stories.
This leads to other questions: Did Davis go public with her private Instagram after she was fired? Does she have private and public accounts? Does the public account have the photo that led to her firing? If so, does she really believe what she wore in the photo is not a firing offense?
I’m too old for all this. I’m 66. I’m a husband. I’m a father. I’m a grandfather. Maybe Ian Rappaport, Adam Schefter or Peter King can answer my questions, even the one about Zach Strief.
I have a sportswriter friend who got into trouble with a Saintsation, not Davis, after he published a blog post that featured some of her tweeted vacation photos.
She considered it an invasion. She said she told “the NFL,” so he took down the post.
I learned a lesson from him: No cheerleader drama for me.