Baltimore Ravens cheerleader Courtney Lenz won’t be cheering her team on at the Super Bowl. The 23-year-old claims she was benched from the big game over her weight.
“They said that I had quote, unquote a ‘rough’ year,” Courtney told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson on Wednesday. “I’d been benched earlier in the season for a little bit of a weight gain. We do get weighed every week during the season, and you can’t fluctuate at all. They don’t allow fluctuation. I gained, I think it was 1.8 pounds. I had been consistent and they let me cheer [previously] and then I gained 1.8 or 1.6 pounds and they said because I had gained weight and they wanted me to be consistent or they wanted me to lose, they benched me for a game and because it was a disciplinary action, that was the reason.”
Courtney, a five-year veteran, says she’s now retiring from the organization.
Of the 60 women on the team, 32 were chosen to attend the Super Bowl and Courtney is the senior-most member of the 28 women left behind.
She said she was last reprimanded for her weight once, in October, and again, in November.
“Do you mind me asking how much you weigh?” Shaun asked.
“During the season, I was 124. That was consistently, they wanted me to get back down to 121, 120, which is what I was at when I was 18, 19, when I started on the team,” she said.
Asked what the scale said when she had her most recent weigh in, Courtney said it was a tiny bit higher.
“When I got benched, I think I was 125.4 or 125.6, somewhere around there, but because I had gained and I hadn’t been consistent and I hadn’t lost, they had to bench me,” she said. “I mean that’s like, I shouldn’t have even eaten lunch that day.”
Outraged friends and fans started an online petition in support of the cheerleader.
The Ravens organization, however, is defending itself.
“As set by the NFL, we are permitted to bring 32 cheerleaders to the Super Bowl. Our selection process was based upon three criteria: seniority, performance ability and personal conduct throughout the season. As much as we would like to take the whole team, we are unable to do so, due to parameters set by the NFL,” team spokeswoman Heather Harness told ABCNews.com.
“I guess the bottom line is, are you not going to the Super Bowl because your coaches think you’re too fat?” Shaun asked.
“They didn’t specifically say that, but when it comes down to it, that was the only disciplinary action I had during the year,” she said. “I got benched because of my weight, and they said that was the reason. Anybody that had disciplinary action taken during the season was automatically disqualified. However, there are some girls on the team that were also benched for their weight, and are going. So they just aren’t consistent, it isn’t fair. That’s why I brought this to the attention of the fans because what they’re doing is not right.”