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Raiderettes date to team’s second season in 1961

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series acquainting fans with the Raiders’ illustrious 60-year history as the team moves to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.

While the Raiders are responsible for many pro football firsts, they were not first to field a cheerleading squad.

The Baltimore Colts, who had cheerleaders in 1954, are widely credited with that distinction. The Raideretttes — aka “Football’s Fabulous Females” — didn’t make their debut until 1961 during the Raiders’ second American Football League season.

The uniforms looked a lot different than they do today.

When the Raiderettes first urged defensive tackles Harry Jagielski and Volney Peters to hold that line, only the Bills, Packers, Chargers, Vikings, Eagles and Steelers had cheerleaders. Now all but six NFL teams (Bills, Bears, Browns, Packers, Giants and Steelers) do.

Five things worth knowing about the Raiderettes:

1. Shortly before his death, Al Davis told a reporter that the official Raiderettes did not make the trip to Las Vegas for a 1964 preseason game against the Houston Oilers at old Cashman Field and were replaced by showgirls who wore sweaters. Local historian Michael Green said the cheerleaders were from the Desert Inn and Stardust.

2. Most Raiderettes only cheer for a season or two before moving on to other things. Emily Compagno is part-time host of Fox TV’s “The Five”; Anjelah Johnson is a stand-up comedian and former MADtv cast member Jane Lubeck modeled without her pom-poms for Playboy.

3. In 2014, two Raiderettes sued the club for wage theft and other unfair practices. They settled out of court for $1.25 million in back pay. As part of the agreement, the cheerleaders’ salary was bumped to $9 per hour.

4. NFL cheerleaders generally are not supposed to fraternize with the players, but that didn’t prevent two Raiderettes from marrying them — although only one was a Raider. Karen Baughman wed former Raiders All-Pro tackle Bob Golic; Paige Green became the second wife of Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway of the Denver Broncos after they met at a celebrity golf tournament hosted by Raiders Hall of Famer Marcus Allen.

5. And then there’s this, from Steve Hartman and Matt “Money” Smith, authors of “The Great Book of Los Angeles Sports Lists,” about former Raiders All-Pro defensive back Lester Hayes, who marched to the tune of his own drum: “Off the field, Hayes had a girlfriend that was a former Raiderette. The only problem was his wife at the time. She, too, was a former Raiderette.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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